Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on cruise ship companies to adopt a "bill of rights" for their passengers.
He wants the industry to give customers a guarantee of standards, including cleanliness, backup power and adequate medical staff.
His proposed guarantees are modeled after the "bill of rights" for the airline industry, and are in response to recent problems on several cruise ships.
One incident on a cruise ship that got a lot of attention was the Carnival Triumph. An engine room fire last month left the ship drifting in the Gulf of Mexico for days, with thousands of passengers and crew members aboard.
"The bill of rights, based on work we've 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 said.
Among Schumer's requested guarantees is the right to a full refund if a trip is abruptly canceled due to mechanical problems.
The senator wants cruise lines based in the U.S. to adopt the standards voluntarily.
He is asking the State Department to work with other countries if Americans are passengers on their ships.