When most people think of going on a luxury cruise, they have visions of starry nights on the deck, sipping a delicious cocktail, and listening to the waves as the vessel slices through them.
The thought of having an accident or being the victim of a crime is most likely not a part of any discussion.
But the truth is accidents and crimes do occur on luxury liners all over the world. In the event of such an occurrence, the question will ultimately arise: whose laws are applicable in this situation?
Until now, the standard has held that the nation of the ships’ registration will determine appropriate remedy and law.
However, in countries that border international waters, a boundary is recognized by the maritime community to extend outward into the body of water, usually a twelve mile “international boundary”.
A ship within this boundary may find itself subject to the laws of the “host” country. In order to clarify some of this confusion over jurisdiction, the United States Congress enacted the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act (CVSSA) in 2010.
This act seeks to provide safety and security requirements for vessels that carry 250 passengers or more, and that embark and disembark its’ passengers within the United States of America.
The Act provides for medical and security personnel aboard to be trained to respond to criminal and medical emergencies, and to contact U.S. authorities regardless of where the situation occurred.
It also mandates that the vessel is to install and monitor security cameras where appropriate, and to save the tapes as back-up evidence if required.
Every passenger aboard is also provided with a personal security “guide”, and will have a stateroom with a peephole that allows for identification of visitors before entry into ones’ cabin.
Other guidelines cover medical training and staff interaction with passengers.