July 15, 2009

Cruise lines drop opposition to new laws

The U.S. cruise line industry has changed course and is backing legislation for new passenger safety measures in a victory for an Arizona man, observers say.

Kendall Carver of Phoenix led a lobbying campaign aimed at forcing cruise ships that dock at U.S. ports to upgrade their safety standards after his daughter vanished during a 2004 Alaskan cruise, but the industry had always opposed the measures, The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday.

For the first time this week, congressional lobbyists for the multibillion-dollar cruise line industry have signaled support new federal safety regulations on passenger ships, signaling clear sailing for their passage into law, the newspaper said.

This really is a historic event. "¦ The tide has turned, said Carver, 72, a retired insurance executive. Finally, we're going to see some accountability. We're a little group. We haven't spent $1,000 this year, and we are up against a group that spent $6 million a year (on lobbying).

The Republic said his daughter, Merrian Carver, 40, boarded a Celebrity Cruise ship for an Alaskan adventure and vanished two days into the voyage in a suspected fall overboard. Cruise officials reportedly admitted they didn't report Carver's disappearance for five weeks.