When Cruise Vacations End Tragically, Who's to Blame?

Carver said he hired a private detective and spent tens of thousands of dollars researching his daughter's last known activities before he sued Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

In a statement, Royal Caribbean noted that an FBI investigation had concluded that there was no evidence of foul play regarding Merrian Carver's disappearance.

"During that same time, we learned from her father that Ms. Carver had emotional problems and had attempted suicide before, which she appears to have done on our ship," the statement read.

The cruise company ended up settling with Carver out of court for an undisclosed amount.

"Do I know what happened to Merrian?" he said. "God only knows."

Bald said the Carver incident spurred Royal Caribbean to make procedural changes, including requiring all passengers to swipe ship-issued identification cards not only when they get on the ship but when they get off.

That might have helped in the Carver case, because authorities don't know if she went overboard or if she left the ship on her own at a port of call.

"We learn from every incident," he said.

Still, Bald said, "we made mistakes in this and there's no denying it."

First, he said, there was a mix-up in communication about the surveillance tapes from Merrian Carver's cruise. Ken Carver was erroneously told the tapes had been thrown out just weeks after the cruise ended, which they hadn't.

The tapes, analog at the time, did not show any images of Merrian Carver at all, Bald said, but the tapes were put back on a shelf and eventually lost when they should have been saved.

The supervisor who'd apparently failed to report the cabin attendant's report of Carver's disappearance was terminated, Bald said.

Since Merrian Carver's disappearance, Ken Carver has been a vocal advocate for legislation on cruise industry reform.

Bills have been introduced in the United States in the last couple of years aimed at the cruise industry, including joint House and Senate bills that called for more uniform crime reporting and improved response.

So far, none of the bills have been passed.

'The Perfect Crime'

Former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican who was unseated in November's election, made cruise industry reform a personal project after following the case of George Smith, a Greenwich newlywed, who went overboard on a Royal Caribbean ship during his honeymoon in 2005.

Smith's case received national attention and prompted a congressional hearing and backlash against Royal Caribbean, which was accused at the time of taking a blase approach to the incident.

Shays told ABCNews.com that a cruise ship is "the place to commit the perfect crime."

"You don't need a major weapon, and your evidence disappears," he said. "They say they're a miniature city, but they don't have anyone on board who is capable of investigating a crime."

Shays described the cruise industry as "powerful" and said it has so far succeeded in blocking any attempt at reform.

But Bald scoffed at the notion that his cruise line, at least, doesn't do enough when crimes occur onboard.

"My answer to them is name one we haven't reported," he said. "And nobody can name a single one."

Most cruise lines, Bald said, signed a voluntary international agreement in 1999 that requires that all crimes to be reported to the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction, depending on where the ship is at the time.

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