A year ago, following the Costa Concordia disaster, Senator Rockefeller convened a Senate hearing of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to inquire into the safety and security of cruise ship passengers and environmental practices of the cruise ship industry.
I attended the hearing where Senator Rockefeller asked appropriately tough questions to the CEO of the cruise industry's trade organization, Christine Duffy. You can read about the hearing in my article Senator Rockefeller Blasts Cruise Industry: You Are A World Unto Yourselves.
You can watch a video of the hearing here.
The cruise industry promised that it was taking steps to protect the cruising public, but a series of highly publicized fires aboard Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise ships caught the Senator's attention. The most notorious event was the "poop cruise" after an engine room fire aboard the Carnival Triumph which disabled the ship. The Triumph had to be towed to Mobile Alabama from the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. 4 days of coverage on CNN exposed a side of cruising which embarassed the cruise industry.
Senator Rockefeller wrote a letter to Carnival's CEO, in which Senator Rockefeller asked questions about Carnival's safety record and its non-payment of taxes. Senator Rockefeller characterized Carnival's response as "shameful."
Senator Rockefeller was later interviewed on NBC about the cruise industry's record of cruise ship accidents.
Senator Rockefeller has now scheduled another hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for July 24, 2013. The hearing is titled “Cruise Industry Oversight: Recent Incidents Show Need for Stronger Focus on Consumer Protection.” Senator stated:
“I’ve been told time and again that cruise lines will change, that things will get better for passengers. But according to our investigation, it doesn’t seem like things have changed. I’m coming to this hearing with an open mind, but so far the cruise lines haven’t been willing to make enough changes that matter on their own. I expect straightforward answers from our witnesses, not more empty promises about how things will get better after the next safety review.”
The hearing will start at 2:30 P.M. on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at the 253 Russell Senate Office Building in Washington DC.
We will be attending the hearing and will report here on what happens.