Cruise ship disappearances happen more often than anyone can imagine and much more often than are reported. Between the over-serving of alcohol, assault incidents on the high seas and various other accidents that can take place onboard cruise ships, statistics show that over 30 passengers have mysteriously disappeared from vessels in the past four years alone and federal authorities are finally starting to get the message that something must be done to improve the safety of all whom are onboard cruise ships.
Attention was recently given to the subject of cruise disappearances after the remains of a woman who had vanished from a vessel several years ago were uncovered.
Police suspect the bones of a deceased victim that were recently found on Merry Island in Canada were those of Merrian Carver. Age 40 at the time of her disappearance, Carver vanished from the Celebrity Cruise ship Mercury while it was on an Alaska itinerary in August 2004.
Police have already contacted the alleged victim’s father, Kendall Carver, in Phoenix, Arizona hoping that DNA tests will be able to give them answers as to whether in fact those are the remains of Merrian Carver and what could have possibly happened to her.
Merrian, the mother of one child, left on the cruise ship without notifying any of her family members. The second day of the itinerary, the cabin attendant noticed that no one had used the bed, and reported the matter to her boss, who promised to look into the incident, but told the attendant to “just forget it, and do your job.”
Doing as she was told, the attendant continued to do her job, placing the customary chocolates on the pillow of the untouched bed night after night. However, Merrian was never seen again.
After the vessel docked in Vancouver, Merrian’s possessions were packed away and no one even notified the police or her family that she was missing. It wasn’t until Merrian’s father reported her missing that police learned of her cruise ship disappearance.
To this day, Kendall Carver has spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to investigate what happened to his daughter on the ship. He has even gotten the U.S. Congress to investigate the cruise industry after his daughter disappeared without a trace.
Carver, appalled by the delay in reporting the disappearance of his daughter, had this to say:
“It took the cruise ship company three days to conclude that Merrian had been on the cruise. By then 26 days had passed since her disappearance. They confirmed that she hadn’t slept in her cabin after the first night, but hinted that this was not unusual. She could have spent the night in another cabin and gone ashore in Vancouver without having to document it, they said.”
The cruise company claimed that films from the surveillance cameras were erased after 12 days, which was a flat out lie – the videos were erased after 30 days. Unfortunately, before that was known, the videos were deleted and it was too late to review them.
Merrian’s case is a prime example of the disturbing reality surrounding cruise ship vacations: there is no police onboard and it is highly unlikely that a disappearance case will be resolved quickly.
Our attorneys here at Lipcon have represented the loved ones of many cruise passengers that have gone missing over the years and unfortunately, we can attest to the fact that cruise operators don’t act as quickly as they should after a passenger is reported missing. Since many of these types of disappearances involve passengers going overboard, vessel operators must act fast once the news of the missing person is reported and must return to the area where the victim was last seen. If this does not happen, or if for some reason the cruise line is found partially responsible for the incident, the victim’s loved ones may be entitled to file a lawsuit and claim compensation for their pain and suffering at the hands of a negligent cruise company.
Knowing this already after experiencing first-hand the disappearance of his own daughter, Kendall Carver formed the group International Cruise Victims, together with others who have lost loved ones on the high seas.
Between 2003 and 2006, 24 cruise passengers disappeared – and this doesn’t even include suicides and accidents caused by intoxication. Since then, ten more passengers and two crew members have been reported missing. This has led the U.S. Congress to investigate cruise ship security and find out if the industry is in fact guilty of suppressing or under-reporting disappearances.
“A cruise ship is a small town,” explained Congressman Christopher Shays. “Traveling on a cruise can be the way to commit the perfect crime.”
The loved ones of missing cruise passengers and crewmembers often do not obtain the answers they deserve from the Cruise Line absent hiring an experienced cruise accident lawyer. However, those that usually do at least get answers to their questions and some form of justice for the matter usually in the form of monetary compensation for the life lost. If someone you love went missing on the high seas, contact our cruise accident lawyers today. Our attorneys have represented hundreds of victims since 1971 and will gladly discuss your options with you.
We also have released a free app for Smartphones titled “Cruise Ship Lawyer,” which allows victims of any form of accident onboard to document the incident as soon as it happens and contact us for assistance. The app is available to download right now for both iPhone and Android users and having it might help you or a loved one on your next cruise.
Merrian Carver – internationalcruisevictims.org
Carver family – bizjournals.com
Kendall Carver – usatoday.com