Carnival cruise troubles: Sen. issues new call for cruise regulations
(CBS News) In the wake of recent emergencies aboard cruise ships, there's a new call to protect passengers when things go wrong at sea.
New York State Sen. Chuck Schumer slammed the cruise industry on Sunday, saying, "Cruise ships, in large part, operating outside the bounds of U.S. enforcement have become the wild west of the traveling industry."
Schumer called the current regulations "toothless" and demanded new rules. He said, "The bill of rights, based on what we have done with the airline industry, will ensure that passengers are not forced to live in Third World conditions or put their lives at risk when they go on vacation."
Schumer's comments came as Carnival Corporation -- the world's largest cruise line -- flew thousands of passengers home from a stranded ship, The Dream, in St. Maarten. That happened as the Carnival Legend limped back to port in Tampa with engine trouble. Earlier this month, the ship Elation experienced steering problems. It all comes on the heels of February's nightmare cruise on the Triumph, which left more than 4,000 people stranded in deplorable conditions.
Schumer's plan would guarantee that passengers get real time updates when a problem occurs, that every ship would be equipped with a back-up generator and that full refunds would be issued should any technical emergencies occur.
Schumer said, "If we can't get them to do it voluntarily, we'll figure out a way by law to do it."
But Jane Wooldridge, cruise writer at Travel + Leisure magazine, defended the cruise industry. "If all of your systems fail, as they did in the Triumph situation," she said, "there's really not a realistic way to address that."
And Wooldridge argues that cruise lines are already doing much of what's in the proposed bill of rights. Wooldridge said, "Historically, the cruise industry has been very fair in terms of their remuneration. They do what you can do in these situations."
Carnival Corporation lowered its earnings forecast on Friday after the latest round of problems to hit its fleet.
For Chip Reid's full "CBS This Morning" report, watch the video in the player above.
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