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Old July 23rd, 2013, 05:51 PM
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Default Rockefeller hearing on Cruising?

This partially came from the weekly cruise newsletter called "Cruise Week" - its a copy a of a letter written by anti-cruise industry senator Jay Rockefeller in response to a letter written to him by a travel agent...

Rockefeller: "Thank you for contacting me about the Committee on
Commerce, Science and Transportation's investigation into cruise lines. It is
always good to hear from concerned citizens, and I thank you for being in touch.

"The cruise ship industry is large, successful, and vastly profitable. The
industry's revenues top $25 billion a year. A unique and complex set of
international rules governs the operations of the ship and the safety of
passengers. I believe that these rules work to protect the companies rather than
their passengers.

"The rarity of major cruise ship accidents suggests that the industry has an
excellent safety record. However, in just the past five years, I am aware of 90
serious events that have occurred on Carnival Corporation ships. The horrible
situation involving the Carnival Triumph is just the latest example in a long string
of serious and troubling incidents. When accidents do occur and lives are
tragically altered, passengers have little recourse against the cruise ship
operators.

"….In May 2013, I sent letters to the three largest cruise line companies
requesting information about their passenger safety, security, and health
practices.

"The responses from the cruise line companies will help Congress make sure
the rules governing the cruise industry provide passengers with the safe and
comfortable traveling experiences they expect and deserve, instead of giving the
companies a free pass at taxpayer expense.

"I will keep your thoughts and concerns in mind as we work to find an
appropriate response to questions about the safety of the cruise line industry."

The hearing will stream live on the Senate Commerce Committee website:
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation at 2:30 pm EST on the 24th (Wednesday)
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 06:07 PM
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Great timing by the release of the CDC report on the recent failure of the Silversea Cruises' ship Silver Shadow too. Just in time for Rockefeller to use it as ammunition.

The CDC report is troubling though, with their documenting the crew deliberately engaged in an attempt to hide known violations, stashing the evidence in crew quarters, etc.
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 06:09 PM
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Add to the the Carnival Splendor report - that's not going to help any either. I don't think I am giving away anything that isn't already known if I mention it has been largely attributed to user error.

But as I said before - better user error than equipment failure - users can more easily be replaced. But it also implies it never should have happened.
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 06:35 PM
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Rockefeller clearly has it in for Carnival, and I have no doubt it is fueled by the animosity between Micky Arison and the esteemed senator (and trust fund beneficiary).
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Old July 24th, 2013, 10:35 AM
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Orignally Rockefeller's stance was that the cruise lines were evil because they were not paying their fair share of taxes.

But then too many people started asking how much Rockefeller was paying in taxes. Those questions were a bit too close to home for Mr R.

He decided that playing the safety card was far safer for him.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 11:28 AM
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Well...

He has drafted a bill - ironically o the same day that Matsui introduced her own bill in the house.

Here is a link to Rockefeller's Bill:

http://www.commerce.senate.gov/publi...4-1fac4b7ae039
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Old July 24th, 2013, 01:20 PM
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Adam Goldstein (CEO of Royal Caribbean) and Kevin Sheehan (CEO of NCL) will be there to testify.

Very interesting timing that Micky A would retire as Carnival Corp. CEO just before this hearing, since much of Rocky's ire was directed specifically to Micky. With the other two biggest cruise CEOs attending, it would look bad for Micky not to attend.

Now - you may ask why the new CEO is not attending - let's just say he has a plausible excuse - by being somewhat new to the job, he can say he doesn't feel completely confident going on the record in a public hearing.

No one was subpoenaed by the way - its just a bunch of Good Ol' Boys getting together to discuss some concerns of the West Virginia senator and his huge cruise-vacation dedicated constituency.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 01:28 PM
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So, according to the Bill, the Dept of Transportation has to set up an office, phone number, website, and email to receive complaints about anything a passenger wants to complain about. And just who is going to pay for all this? Isn't that why we have a Consumer Protection Agency under the Federal Trade Commission? Why do we need another office for this? Just more bureaucracy and more cost when all they have to do is modify what's already in place.

Plus, this is no where near the big problem they claim it is!

They really need to concentrate on solving the major problems we're facing and stop trying to find problems where they really don't exist!

Gotta love politicians! Anything to get in front of a camera!

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Old July 24th, 2013, 02:24 PM
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see Gerry Cahill is now on the "witness" list - so I guess Carnival Cruise Line will be represented, also.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 02:26 PM
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Pete, I see you did your homework.

Yes, the new website is supposed to list all reported "alleged" crimes and incidents. That is a judicial nightmare, and if it holds up it just goes to show that people don't care about their privacy any more.
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Old July 24th, 2013, 02:32 PM
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Here is the latest press release on the new bill... (from Rockefeller...)

Rockefeller's Cruise Bill Puts Consumer Awareness and Protection at the Forefront

Democratic Press Office - (202) 224-8374Jul 23 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV today introduced a bill that would close gaps in cruise industry consumer awareness and crime reporting. Serious incidents continue to occur on cruise ships, yet the industry has not prioritized consumer awareness, safety, and security. Rockefeller’s bill would provide the nearly 21 million Americans who plan to take a cruise this year with critical information about the limited scope of their current consumer protections and would take steps to improve accountability in the industry.

“This bill is the only way we’re going to make consumer awareness and protection a priority, since the cruise industry seems to refuse to take action on its own,” said Rockefeller. “During our hearing sixteen months ago, after a number of high-profile incidents, the industry promised to make real changes, but I had my doubts. Once the TV cameras turned off, and the more our inquiries uncovered, it became clear that nothing was going to change without Congressional action.”

A copy of Rockefeller’s legislation, which is cosponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), is here. Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) also plans to introduce similar cruise consumer protection legislation today in the House.

“When Americans board cruise ships headed for international waters, they need to know where their rights begin and end,” Blumenthal said. “This bill will make sure consumers are given clear notice of the risks associated with cruise ship travel before they buy a ticket; and if their rights are violated, this bill will help ensure that they have a place to seek recourse.”

Rockefeller will hold a hearing this Wednesday, July 24, at 2:30 p.m. titled, “Cruise Industry Oversight: Recent Incidents Show Need for Stronger Focus on Consumer Protection”, where he will focus on challenges the cruise industry continues to face, including a lack of consumer protections, the need for accurate crime reporting, and safety issues that continue to plague the industry. While cruise lines sell the idea of a cruise as a “dream vacation,” some passengers have faced serious issues, including fires, being stranded at sea and crime. At the same time, cruise companies continue to impose significant limits by requiring passengers to waive their legal rights when buying their ticket, which further restricts passengers’ abilities to hold cruise lines accountable when things go wrong.

The introduction of Rockefeller’s legislation and the cruise industry oversight hearing this week build on his ongoing work to bring more accountability to the cruise industry through rigorous oversight, and to create a more informed passenger. In March 2012, after a series of alarming safety incidents on cruise ships including the Costa Concordia grounding in Italy that killed 32 people, Rockefeller held a hearing on whether the cruise industry was doing enough to protect passengers. During the hearing, the cruise industry’s trade association representative told Rockefeller that upcoming industry safety reviews would adequately protect passengers.

In the sixteen months since the hearing, several serious incidents have occurred on cruise ships that raise questions about the industry’s safety practices. One of the most notable was the Carnival Triumph fire in February 2013, which left passengers stranded at sea for days without power, plumbing and adequate food. After this incident, Rockefeller wrote Admiral Papp, Commandant of the Coast Guard, and Micky Arison, Chairman of the Board and then-CEO of Carnival, to express his serious concerns surrounding recent cruise ship incidents. Rather than take these legitimate oversight questions seriously, Carnival’s response played down concerns about recent incidents and ignored questions about whether Carnival intended to reimburse the Coast Guard and Navy for its cost of responding to several incidents – an issue the company later reconsidered when it chose to reimburse federal taxpayers.

Upon receipt of Carnival’s insufficient response, Rockefeller broadened his oversight efforts of the cruise industry. On May 7, 2013, the Chairman sent letters to Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, which represent 78 percent of the global cruise industry, to determine whether their procedures on passenger safety and security were enough to protect consumers. Rockefeller followed up on his oversight work by introducing legislation that would compel the cruise industry to implement strong consumer protections.

The Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2013 would:

Give consumers a clear upfront summary of the restrictive terms and conditions in cruise contracts. The Secretary of Transportation would develop standards for the cruise lines to provide prospective passengers with a short summary of the key terms in the contract. Consumers would be able to read a plain language summary of the key rights and limitations that passengers have during their cruise so they are fully aware of what rights they have, and don’t have, before they book their tickets.

Give the federal government more authority to protect cruise ship passengers. The Department of Transportation would be the lead federal agency for cruise ship consumer protection, similar to the role it has in aviation consumer protection. Passengers would also have additional protections in the event of a problem by giving the Department the authority to investigate consumer complaints.
Help passengers who encounter problems on cruise ships. Create a toll-free hotline for consumer complaints. An Advisory Committee for Passenger Vessel Consumer Protection would be created to make recommendations to improve existing consumer protection programs and services.

Make all crimes alleged on cruise ships publicly available information. The FBI currently only reports crimes that are no longer under investigation. This causes the number of alleged crimes to be severely underreported and does not give potential passengers accurate information about the safety of cruises. Cruise lines would also be required to place video cameras in public areas and would set requirements for cruise lines to keep the video footage.

Help passengers who have been a victim of a crime on the cruise ship, since they have limited access to law enforcement. The Department of Transportation would establish a victim advocate who can provide assistance to victims on board a cruise ship, make sure the victim is aware of his or her rights in international waters, and get access to appropriate law enforcement officers.
###
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Old July 24th, 2013, 06:37 PM
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Default Did anybody watch -?

It seemed to me old J.R. finally figured out no one cares about this topic.

Even Ross Klein brought up the fact that the cruise lines are not responsible for medical "malpractice" aboard their ships (because they are not hospitals) and all JR could say was "um, thanks, I'll take a moment to think the information over..."

In other words, he was saying "Hay, I thought you were on my side, buddy."

The whole time the coast guard, the senator from Alaska, the former heard of the NTSB and the Sen. from Florida were all very pro-cruise industry, so Ross Klein was the only "anti-cruise" witness, and he was far more placid that normal. It was a bad day for Rocky, I thought.

But at the end, everyone who had thought his focus had slipped from taxes to safety got a shock. he closed the hearing by saying "I've just introduced legislation to change the tax status of cruise lines."

But he is also retiring next year, so.....

Adam Goldstein was so spot-on - Gerry Cahill was his usual, honest self. I thought Kevin Sheehan was scheduled to be there but it was Cahill & not Sheehan.

ALL very interesting....
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Old July 24th, 2013, 11:42 PM
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The French said it best.
"Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose."

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Rockefeller and his family have avoided paying their fair share of taxes for many decades.
Now they have decided to go after someone else who is doing the same thing - but legally- just like them.
Rockefeller and his family have circumvented US Labor Laws, Environmental Laws, and US Tax Laws, for decades. Now he is going after these "foreigners" who dare to do the same thing.
Is dodging the law only legal for wealthy Americans?
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