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Cruise CEO's grilled on Capitol Hill

Cruise ship
Posted at 8:52 AM, Jul 25, 2013
and last updated 2014-07-17 12:37:55-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) -- The world's largest cruise lines are defending themselves after a series of incidents on board ships.

Carnival and Royal Caribbean's CEO's were grilled during a senate hearing Wednesday.

"I have been assured repeatedly by the industry that things will get better," said Senator Jay Rockefeller. "Take a look at the past 16 months and tell me if this is what you think better looks like."

Memories of February's Carnival Triumph cruise - when thousands of passengers were stranded for five days in the steamy Gulf of Mexico, on a ship lacking power and adequate toilets - lingered at the hearing.

 

"We really seriously put out guests in an uncomfortable position. And that bothers us a great deal," said Gerald Cahill, President of Carnival Cruise Lines.

The cruise industry says its new passenger bill of rights addresses the problem. But, critics disagree.

"A deeper look indicates the Passenger Bill of Rights is filled with empty promises," said Ross Klein of CruiseJunkie.com

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Into these troubled water comes a reporter alleging that serious crime on cruise ships is under-reported.

The report says cruise ships have reported 959 serious crimes to the FBI. But, only 31 are posted on the Coast Guard's public web site. That's because the database discloses only crimes no longer under investigation by the FBI.

"Consumers have no way to find out what their real risks are before they take a cruise," said Senator Jay Rockefeller.