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Cruise lines agree to report more crimes

Is a cruise vacation safe? This is a [% 1304441 | | topic %] I’ve addressed in the past, and which cruise lines, the government, and the traveling public continue to debate. On the one hand, cruise lines say their ships have lower instances of crime than you’d find on land. On the other hand, victims of onboard crimes report the cruise lines did not help prevent the crimes or take appropriate action after the incidents.

As reported by Travel Weekly (registration required) and other U.S. newspapers, a House subcommittee met this week with representatives from the FBI, Coast Guard, and several cruise lines, as well as victims of cruise-ship crimes, to discuss the hot topic of criminal activity at sea. On Monday, the cruise lines agreed to call the FBI and Coast Guard whenever a major crime occurs onboard, such as “homicides, suspicious deaths, missing U.S. passengers, kidnappings, assaults involving serious bodily injury, sexual assaults, and thefts involving $10,000 or more.”

Representatives of the International Cruise Victims Association believe the agreement is not enough and will continue to push for actual legislation. Part of the problem is the issue of jurisdiction—is it appropriate for the FBI and U.S. Coast Guard to investigate a crime on an internationally flagged ship in foreign waters?

If you’re not sure how to react to this testimony, I’d say that you shouldn’t let a few horror stories prevent you from taking a vacation at sea. But you should remember that a cruise ship is a public place filled with strangers, not a safe haven, and act accordingly while onboard. If you become a victim of an onboard crime, don’t automatically expect the cruise line to take charge of the situation. Press for your rights, and contact the authorities yourself, if necessary.

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