File photo: The retired auxiliary nurse from Herne Bay, Kent, went on an eight-day cruise to Norway with her lorry driver husband Dennis, 69, in 2012, to see whether they would enjoy a longer excursion to the Caribbean.

Miami - A maze of maritime regulations and fragmented oversight of the cruise industry make it tough for consumers to assess the health and safety record of ships they're about to board for a vacation.

No one entity or country oversees or regulates the industry. There's no central database for passengers seeking ship information.

The US Coast Guard and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer some ship safety and health information online.

In the case of the Carnival Triumph ship that spent days disabled at sea after an engine fire, vacationers could have gone to those agencies' websites before boarding, but they would have found mostly clean marks and few red flags.

And when something goes wrong, as it did on Triumph, there are limits to how much the Coast Guard can investigate. - Sapa-AP