Coronavirus on the high seas: Why the U.S. can't touch cruise lines

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The nightmare of coronavirus outbreaks on cruise ships has revealed an industry that's skirted oversight for years and used powerful allies in Washington to keep the government out of its business.

In 2013, an engine fire aboard the "Carnival Triumph" left 4,000 people adrift with no running water or power and scarce food. Just a year later, Royal Caribbean International earned the dubious distinction of breaking the record for the largest amount of people sick from a norovirus infestation — nearly 700 people. The press wrote stories, policymakers gnashed their teeth — and nothing changed because the U.S. government is largely powerless to intervene.

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