Senator Jay Rockefeller D-W.Va introduced a bill last year aiming to improve the protection of passengers on cruise ships. This Wednesday there was a second hearing to gather information and raise awareness of the problems.
Philip Gerson, a Miami-based civil trial lawyer specializing in cruise liner cases, said significant improvements in passenger safety are needed and highlighted the case of one of his clients, a 15 year old girl with Asperger syndrome who was raped during a cruise.
In addition, Laurie Dishman, from Sacremento California, described how she was choked and raped on a Royal Caribbean cruise to Mexico by an employee.
The case of George Smith IV, from Greenwich, CT., who vanished from his honeymoon cruise in the Aegean Sea in July 2005, was also discussed.
Senator Rockefeller said that the horror stories which they were hearing about showed that there was a lack of concern for passenger safety in the cruise industry and despite evidence they continued to fail to address the problem.
Last August, following pressure from Congress and the victims, major cruise liners began voluntarily posting crime data online, but the committee members said it was not sufficient.