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Security

Changes likely as US Coast Guard mulls new regulations for cruise ships

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By William Lusk

Director of Operations, Homeland Security Outlook

  

The US Coast Guard has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010 as it takes a fresh look at new regulations for onboard deck rail height, hailing devices, crime scene preservation training and other items to promote safety and security on cruise ships.

Cruising is a convenient, fun and cost-effective method for vacationers worldwide to explore new and exciting destinations. It is no secret that the Caribbean is the cruising capital of the world, with more ships and passengers sampling its tropical beaches and flavor than any other region. It is estimated by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) that, as of September 2014, the Caribbean has an incredible 35.5 per cent of scheduled bed-days of cruise ships worldwide – an impressive capacity when you consider that the next highest capacity market, the Mediterranean, is at only 19.5 per cent.

The outlook is bright for the cruise industry, especially in 2015. CLIA projects an estimated 23 million passengers on large oceangoing cruise ships this year, coupled with more than $4 billion in additional investment in 22 new ships totaling approximately 22,000 beds. Cruise lines and their ships seem to be accelerating in growth and potential. By some estimates, the annual economic value of the cruise industry in the US exceeds $20 billion.

With so many vessels (over 420 CLIA-affiliated ships alone) and so many passengers (over 482,000 beds) on the high seas, just as with airliners or land vacations, incidents will occur that will affect the security and safety of passengers onboard. Unfortunately for this industry, there has been a series of recent high-profile accidents involving fires, sinkings and man-overboard situations leading to a constant bombardment of the industry by the media.

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