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Cruise Line Executives Attend Hearing To Address Safety Concerns

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - The presidents of two Miami-based cruise ships lines, following two recent high-profile fires, stood before senators Wednesday at a hearing to defend the industry.

President of Carnival Cruise Lines Gerald Cahill, after an engine room fire in February left the Triumph adrift and disrupted basic services, like toilets, attended the hearing according to CBS4's News partner The Miami Herald.

"We really seriously put our guests in an uncomfortable position and that bothers us a great deal," Cahill said during the hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation the paper reported.

The Carnival Triumph had been floating aimlessly about 150 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula after a fire erupted in the aft engine room early morning on February 10th. The fire knocked out the ship's propulsion system. No one was injured and the fire was extinguished but the disabled ship had to be towed by tug boats to Mobile, Alabama.

Cahill said the company is working to install new sprinkler systems and also add more generators.

Adam Goldstein, president of Royal Caribbean International, also testified before the Senate committee after an incident in May involving a fire onboard.

Goldstein explained, as reported by the Herald, that the effected passengers were compensated, under a passenger bill of rights the cruise ship industry adopted in the past year. The bill of rights, among other things, promises refunds for trips canceled due to mechanical issues.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, the committee's chairman, concerned about passenger safety introduced a bill called the Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2013. In order to protect passengers, the bill, the paper reported, would set up a hotline for passenger complaints about the cruises. Also, the bill would require that crimes that occur on the ship would be more thoroughly reported.

Goldstein, who believes the cruise ships are safer than some of the destinations, replied that Royal Caribbean, along with two other cruise lines, voluntarily agreed to expand crime reporting.

Rockefeller, however, questioned whether the voluntary agreement and safety reviews is merely a "cynical effort to counter bad publicity," as reported by the Herald.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)


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