A few months ago I wrote a long, serious article about violent crime on cruise ships and how the cruise companies themselves allegedly cover up the crimes. Then the bloody Guardian ran something similar, so I threw it in the trash. Anyway, a massive cruise ship crashed the other day—you probably saw the pictures—so it seems like a smart time to revist an article about the dangers of cruising.
In 2004, when the crew of the Mercury Royal Caribbean cruise liner noticed that 40-year-old mother Merriam Carver was missing from the ship, no one called the police. No announcement was made, no investigation was ordered and Merriam’s family were not notified. Instead, stewards continued to replace the uneaten chocolates on Merriam’s pillow for the rest of the journey.
Eventually, one employee noted her disappearance, but was told by his superiors to “just do your job, and forget it”. Despite protocol, Merriam’s belongings were gathered up from her room and given to charity when the boat docked. The company made a report to the FBI stating that nothing of note had occurred during the voyage. According to Merriam’s father, Kendal Carver, internal documents show that their officials were coordinating a cover up of the disappearance. There was a conspiracy.
“We asked if there was CCTV,” remembers Kendal, “and they told us it was too late, it had already been erased. I don’t know what happened to my daughter, but for someone to disappear off a cruise ship and them to say, ‘Oh, there’s no video,’ something is not right. You know they’re hiding it.” Three years later, it was admitted that this had been a lie. There had been CCTV records, and they had been reviewed by the ship’s personnel.
Carver, a former CEO, spent thousands investigating his daughter’s disappearance, but has never found any satisfactory answers. On the course of this journey, he has become the President of the International Cruise Victims Association, in which capacity he has dedicated himself to helping other victims solve cruise line mysteries. It’s a full-time job. Last year was a busy one, with over 20 crew members and guests going overboard or disappearing on cruise ships.