Protect Cruise Passengers
A parliamentary committee says that both the government and cruise operators need to do more to protect cruise passengers
More needed to protect cruise passengers
As more Australians take holiday cruises both the government and cruise operators need to do more to protect passengers, a parliamentary committee says.
In a report tabled in parliament on Monday, the standing committee on social policy and legal affairs said the industry was growing with 700,000 Australians taking a cruise last year, a fivefold increase in a decade.
The committee said most passengers would expect the cruising environment to reflect Australian social and legal standards, as cruise operators run Australian companies and sail from Australian ports.
But when it comes to crimes committed at sea and regulation of cruise liners, complex questions of jurisdiction underlie almost every aspect of the cruising industry, it said.
Many cruise liners sail under flags of convenience from nations such as Bermuda, Panama, Malta and the Bahamas.
Because of the complexity of the international law, the committee sought its own legal advice which made clear the significant limits on Australia’s ability to legislate for the cruising industry.
The problems were highlighted by the case of Dianne Brimble who died of a drug overdose aboard a P&O cruise liner in September 2002. There were many questions raised about the ship’s party culture, preservation of the crime scene, the investigation process and the support to Mrs Brimble’s family.
The committee said the government should consider how it might better protect people on cruises.
It must do more to ensure passengers understand that cruising is international travel and they should exercise the same precautions they would take on any international journey.
It should press the International Maritime Organisation for more measures to improve passenger safety including real time monitoring of closed circuit TV, installation of man-overboard alarms and a code for responsible service of alcohol.
The government should also conduct a comprehensive review of cruise operator liability for tickets purchased in Australia.