Mr Kendall Carver is the founder and chairman of International Cruise Victims (ICV), an organization established in 2006 that addresses the issue of crimes and disappearances at sea. His own daughter Merrian disappeared from a cruise ship under bizarre circumstances in 2004.
He has testified before House and Senate Committees five times, giving testimony on injustices suffered by people at the hands of cruise line corporations. He also consults on the issue around the world.
In 2017 Mr Carver received the Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award. The award is given to people whose work has led to major changes in public policy, and improvements in practices that serve victims of crime.
Below is my interview with Mr. Carver.
1) What is the “International Cruise Victims” organization? What does it do?
ICV was formed on January 1, 2018 by four families who had lost family members on Cruise Ships. The organization was formed to give victim and their families a united voice. The group offers support to new victims of crimes on cruise ships plus work towards passing legislation to give victims rights on cruise ships and improve safety of cruise ships.
2) Your involvement with this issue began with your own daughter going missing. Can you tell us the full story of how your daughter disappeared?
I could probably write a book to cover the full story of her going missing. The following link is a detailed summary from our web page:
3) I hope you don’t get offended by my asking, but was she suicidal? How likely do you think it is that she jumped off the ship?
After three years, the cruise line admitted there was a video which they review and kept for several months. They had indicated when we first contacted them three weeks after she went missing, that there was no video. If they had a video, why did they indicate that there was no video which only after three years they admitted there was a video. If there was a video of Merrian going overboard, that would have been the end of the story.
In fact, they had lied to us. Crew members later contacted us to say that some crew members were involved in her disappearance. In fact, we will never know what happened.
4) What happened next, after your daughter had gone missing? Who did you contact? What did they do to help you?
We first contacted the cruise ship then turned the investigation over to private detectives and two law firms. Our only initial goal was to speak to the steward who had taken care of her room. It took four months, court action in two states at a cost of $75,000 to finally get a deposition from the steward. He then indicated that he had advised his superior two days into the trip that her room was not being used. He was advised to forget it and just do his job. At the end of the trip, he was advised to put her items in the room in a bag and give them to his boss. The cruise line them disposed of her belongings, and told no one.
(Merrian and Kendall Carver)
5) There was a massive problem with getting CCTV security camera footage in the investigation. Can you tell us more about this?
Frankly, it was a cover-up. When we asked for it, they actually had the video and then lied to us that is was erased. It took three years for them to admit that they actually had it. See the Exhibit 2 on the link below in the answer 6.
6) You have mentioned many times that you believe there was a cover-up following your daughter’s disappearance. What do you think the cruise line were covering up?
In the book “Devil in the Deep Blue Seas” that came out in 2005, it was indicated that cover up was the standard procedure. Those pages are shown in my congressional testimony to the Senate under Exhibit 2.
7) What is your own belief/theory as to what happened to your daughter?
While I will never know for sure, the reports from the cruise members that one of them was involved in her disappearance is probably the conclusion I would come to. This was also confirmed by two separate psychics from different parts of the country.
8) Your daughter’s case is eerily similar to the disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley, a young lady who went missing from a cruise in 1998. What do you think about the Bradley disappearance? Have you been in contact/shared experiences with the Bradley family?
The Bradley family and I have been in contact since the beginning of ICV. Their daughter disappeared with no answers and our daughter disappeared with no answers. This is the 20-year anniversary of losing their daughter, and Amy Bradley’s case is receiving much press, as per the following link.
9) A popular weekend pastime in my country (Finland) is taking a cruise from Helsinki or Turku to Stockholm (Sweden) or Tallinn (Estonia). We have several cases of people going missing from cruises, and these cases are usually quickly written off as “spontaneous drunken suicides”. While this is probably true in many cases, I’ve always felt like this “one-size-fits-all”-explanation doesn’t apply in all cases. (After all, people drinking in bars and pubs aren’t constantly jumping from rooftops or shooting themselves.) Have you come across this same mentality in the U.S.?
In the legislation that ICV passed in 2010, it was required that ships improve the video detections and add MOB systems. The cruise lines have failed to add these systems and the following just came out which should force the cruise lines to add these systems. With them, you could start of answer your question.
10) When one investigates these disappearances, sooner or later one comes across the issues of human trafficking and kidnappings. Have you looked into the world of human trafficking? What do you think about a potential connection between that ugly trade and disappearances?
We know the that crew members are involved in many of these disappearances, and clearly these crew members could be involved in human trafficking crimes. As an example, they have been found to be moving drugs on these ships, and we have to assume they might be involved in other crimes as well.
11) In trying to get cruise lines to be more open and cooperative in disappearance cases, you’re fighting a battle against huge, rich corporations. How do you wage this battle?
Just as the voice of the students in Florida has been very effective, the voice of victims that are organized with a cause, such as ICV, have been able to make a difference. A passionate victim is a very effective voice for change.
12) How can people going on cruises increase their safety?
First of all, Senate hearings have determined that 1/3 of all sexual crimes aboard American cruise ships are committed on minors. You can’t assume your children are safe when on a cruise. People need to stay together with friends, and realize that there are no police on cruise ships, where unlimited drunken crimes will occur.
13) In case something bad DOES happen, how can families increase their chances of getting answers?
Legislation, like what was passed to give victims’ rights on cruise ships in the United States, needs to be passed in all countries. There is little chance of getting answers from the countries where ships are flagged.
14) I say this only half-jokingly: do you think everyone going on a cruise should leave behind a signed letter saying “I am not suicidal, and do not plan on killing myself on this trip” to ensure their potential disappearance is investigated properly?
I have to say that regardless of what you leave behind, you can’t assume that crimes will be investigated by the country where the ship is flagged.
15) How have you coped with the sorrow of losing a daughter under such sad circumstances? Does the heart ever heal, or does the pain just subside enough to let you get on with your life?
Really, the hurt never heals. I have moved forward with passion against the industry that allows various crimes to occur knowing that little action will be taken.
16) What’s in your future? What are your plans?
Clearly, I will not live forever so my goal is to build an organization that carries on. We are so fortunate to have so many members playing a significant role in ICV every day and am sure this will happen as long as victims and their families continue to come to ICV.
17) If people reading this want to help you and your organization somehow, how can they do it?
Membership is free and people can join to support ICV both in our mission and with donations. They can join at the following link:
Since we are an all-volunteer group, donations can also be make at: