In a previous article "Congress Passes Cruise Crime Bill," I thanked the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization for their efforts in enacting the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009. I also thanked Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) for her leadership in enacting this ground breaking bill. Congresswoman Matsui has been working on this legislation for the past three years after her constituent (and our friend and client) Laurie Dishman was sexually assaulted on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in February 2006.
I failed to mention the family whose efforts initiated the legislation, George III and Maureen Smith and their daughter Bree Smith of Greenwich Connecticut. After George IV disappeared from Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas in July 2005, the Smiths contacted their Congressman, Chris Shays (R-CT), who convened a series of hearings in December 2005 and March 2006. He also attended a cruise safety hearing in March 2007 convened by Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD).
The Smith family brought a great amount of much needed publicity to the issue of passenger "disappearances" and the shoddy manner in which cruise lines respond to such tragedies.
Congressman Shays introduced legislation in 2006 which, although not passed by Congress, laid the groundwork for the introduction of the current cruise safety bill. (Congressman Shays recently lost re-election and the new Congressman from the Smith’s district is Congressman Jim Himes). Congressman Shays is shown in the photo debating cruise safety issues with Anita Dunham-Potter.
Two newspapers in Connecticut have reported on the new cruise law. Joan Lownds of the Greenwich Post wrote an article entitled "Cruise Safety Bill is Passed by U.S. House Today." Ms. Lownds reports that the Smith family formed the International Cruise Victims (ICV) with Ken Carver whose daughter disappeared from a cruise ship operated by Celebrity Cruises, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean. The ICV has lobbied for improved safety and transparency regulations on cruise ships.
The article quotes the Smith family: “Hopefully with the passage of the Cruise Safety Bill, the voices of the victimized and missing from cruise ships, as well as their families, will no longer be ignored and silenced."
Also reporting from Connecticut is the Connecticut Post. In an article entitled "Greenwich Victim’s Family Heartened by Legislation’s Progress," the Smith family is quoted:
"If one family can be spared the torment that our family has experienced in our battle for answers and justice for George as a result of the passage of the cruise security and safety legislation, then our efforts have not been in vain."
Here is a video of an interview in 2006 by CBS’s Hannah Storm of the Smith family discussing their feelings following the loss of George Smith IV:
Photo Credits: CBS / The Early Show