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Cruise Industry Under Fire As Lawmakers Debate Stronger Regulations

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Grandeur Of The Seas, Royal Caribbean, Cruise Ship fire
Ileto Christie 370x278 (2) Christie Ileto
Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The American cruise industry is under fire now. Victims of cruise ship nightmares headed to Capitol Hill to push for stronger passenger protections.

Christie Ileto explains Baltimore’s busy cruise port has seen its share of problems.

Four thousand, two hundred passengers were stranded with overflowing toilets following an engine fire on the Carnival Triumph, while passengers loaded onto lifeboats after flames ignited on the Baltimore-based Grandeur of the Seas and on the same ship this April, almost 100 passengers were sickened with norovirus-like symptoms.

“A lot of people were getting sick. I didn’t eat for three days,” said Laurie Dishman.

Horror stories at sea are coming to Capitol Hill Wednesday as a Senate panel considers requirements to make cruise line contracts clearer; crime statistics on board to be posted online and a complaint hotline for passengers.

“Certainly, if those resources are available,” Christopher Roberson said. “If I need to make a phone call about a complaint.”

Roberson has been on a handful of cruises and says he often wonders if…

“That could have been me,” he said.

At the Port of Baltimore, thousands of passengers board cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival all the time. The industry generates about $90 million a year to the state.

Earlier this year, the NTSB held hearings on cruise ship safety while the Coast Guard began unannounced inspections of ships.

The Cruise Line International Association says the hearing distorts travel at sea but for passengers, new guidelines mean assurance horror stories won’t keep happening.

“[It means] I have that guarantee in place as a safeguard, a reassurance,” Roberson said.

The cruise industry says it has a 90% satisfaction rate, with the majority of customers coming back.

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