WASHINGTON, July 26 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has put cruise lines "on notice" they must do a better job of reporting criminal incidents that occur on cruise ships.
Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, called for stricter reporting guidelines after the committee released a report that only 31 alleged crimes had been publicly disclosed on a Coast Guard website since 2011, NBC News reported Thursday.
Cruise lines have reported 959 incidents to the FBI during that same period, the Senate report said.
Executives of Carnival Corp., Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises told the committee during a hearing Wednesday they would report all alleged crimes that occur on their vessels.
In a prepared statement, Rockefeller expressed skepticism about the cruise lines' pledge.
"I have been assured repeatedly by the industry that things will get better," he said. "Take a look at the events over the past 16 months and tell me if this is what you think better looks like. Cruise lines are on notice that the safety and protection of passengers is now their number one priority, whether they like it or not."
The cruise lines voluntarily agreed to post reports of alleged crimes reported as far back as 2010 on their website by Aug. 1 regardless of whether an investigation is open or closed.
A statement on Carnival's website says the possibility of a criminal incident aboard their ships is "remote." Of the 4 million passengers the cruise line expects to carry in 2013, the website says, "the number of alleged incidents is a small fraction of those carried."