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S. 965 (115th): Cruise Passenger Protection Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Apr 27, 2017.

Cruise Passenger Protection Act

This bill directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to determine whether any of the enumerated rights in the international cruise line passenger bill of rights (adopted by the members of the Cruise Lines International Association) is enforceable under federal law.

The bill shall apply to passenger vessels that: (1) carry at least 250 passengers, (2) have sleeping facilities for each passenger, (3) are on a voyage that embarks or disembarks passengers in the United States, (4) are not engaged in coastwise trade, and (5) are not federal- or state-owned.

The bill revises passenger vessel security and safety requirements concerning: (1) log book entries and reporting of deaths, missing individuals, thefts, and other crimes; and (2) placement, access to records, and notice of video surveillance equipment to monitor crime.

The DOT, in coordination with the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating, the Department of Justice, and heads of other relevant federal agencies, shall study the feasibility of having an individual on board each passenger vessel to provide victim support and related safety and security services.

The Maritime Administration shall certify organizations that offer the curriculum for training and certification of passenger vessel security personnel, crew members, and law enforcement officials on the appropriate methods for prevention, detection, evidence preservation, and reporting of crimes in international waters.

The bill revises vessel design, equipment, construction, and retrofitting requirements.

A peep hole or other means of visual identification shall be in the entry door of a passenger stateroom or crew cabin to provide an unobstructed view of the area outside the stateroom or crew cabin.

Vessel owners shall ensure that a vessel is staffed at all times with appropriate medical staff to treat passengers on board.

The Department of Homeland Security may withhold or revoke the clearance of, and the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating may deny entry into the United States to, any vessel owner that: (1) commits an act or omission for which a penalty is imposed under this Act, or (2) fails to pay the penalty.

The bill makes additional compensation recoverable for nonpecuniary damages (but not punitive damages) for deaths resulting from a passenger cruise ship accident occurring on the high seas beyond 12 nautical miles from the U.S. shore.