Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act

What is the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act?​

In 2010, a holistic body of legislation was passed to regulate cruise ship safety measures, statistics, and procedure. The Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act, or CVSSA, has been repeatedly amended and modified since its inception, however, and the cruise industry involved in American ports has found many ways to circumnavigate the essential obligations of the act.  The CVSSA, in short, requires the following from cruise ship companies: 
  1. Crime Reporting and Investigation: The CVSSA required cruise lines to report all allegations of certain serious crimes, such as sexual assault, to the FBI. It also mandated that the U.S. Coast Guard be informed of missing U.S. nationals.
  2. Video Surveillance: Cruise ships were required to have video surveillance systems in certain areas to enhance security and provide evidence in case of incidents.
  3. Crime Statistics: The CVSSA mandated that cruise lines make statistics about reported crimes available to the public, providing passengers with more transparency about the safety record of the cruise line.
  4. Safety Measures: The act imposed specific safety measures, such as the installation of peepholes in passenger staterooms, the presence of security latches on cabin doors, and improved access for individuals with disabilities.
  5. Training and Personnel: Cruise ship personnel were required to undergo training on how to respond to and prevent crimes and to assist victims of crimes.
  6. Emergency Response Plans: Cruise lines were required to develop and maintain emergency response plans to address various safety and security incidents.
  7. Civil Penalties: The CVSSA allowed for civil penalties to be imposed on cruise lines that failed to comply with the act’s provisions.
The fundamental concept of the CVSSA is that cruise ship companies, so long as the ships are involved in American Ports, are required to provide the United States government with updates on the level of crime, death, and emergency situations that arise on board ships during their usage around the world. This mandate, however, has not been plainly followed by the cruise industry, and major cruise lines have found ways to avoid providing key points of information through loopholes in order to avoid dealing with the consequences.  

Cruise Industry Deceit

The CVSSA initially required the FBI to report all crime statistics accumulated in a year on board cruise ships to the United States Coast Guard. Eventually, however, the bearer of knowledge had been transferred to the Department of Transportation, who has controversially not released any statistics on cruise safety in over 9 months. One can infer that this massive and unprecedented delay in publication has a lot to do with cruise ship related corruption, lobbying and an industry-wide desire to keep crime information silent.  According to Jim Walker of Cruise Law News, “cruise line lobbyists opposed the reporting of shipboard thefts and were successful in having language inserted in the CVSSA requiring reporting only where the amount of the stolen items exceeded $10,000.” This is a perfect example of the kind of ways cruise lines have avoided accountability for the dangerous environments created on board their ‘water cities’. The most frequent crime on board cruise ships, sexual assaults, are a major reason why the CVSSA was created in the first place. Furthermore, certain cruise ships such as Carnival Cruise Line have higher per capita rape statitics than some U.S States. Even more jarring, a 2013 Senate Committee report publicly declared that “Only a sliver of alleged crimes committed on board cruise ships winds up reported to the public”.  The CVSSA was an important step in the disclosure and public understanding of Cruise Ship dangers and safety. Passengers around the world are entitled to know the safety of the environments they are paying to inhabit when taking a cruise vacation, and the lobbying efforts of the cruise industry has impeded this crucial factor of public safety for their own image and benefit. It is a widely known fact in the industry that the reality of cruise ship crime is underreported, poorly regulated, and something intentionally suppressed by the industry.