Fairplay reports today that Michael Crye, a lawyer and long time lobbyist for the cruise industry, will soon be leaving the cruise industry’s trade organization, the Cruise Lines International Association (“CLIA”). Fairplay does not mention where Mr. Crye is going.

Mr. Crye used to be the president of the old International Council of Cruise Lines (“ICCL”) in the early to mid 2000’s. ICCL was the cruise industry trade association before the lobbying duties shifted to CLIA.

Michael Crye - CLIA Mr. Crye’s background was with the U.S. Coast Guard for 25 years, from the early 1970’s to the mid 1990’s. He parlayed his Coast Guard experience into a career as a Washington DC lobbyist for the cruise lines.

Mr. Crye was the face of the cruise industry when our U.S. Congress began to focus on cruise ships disappearances and sexual assaults around 2005.

He appeared before a series of Congressional sub-committees which were investigating incidents of passengers going overboard on the high seas following the high profile disappearance case of George Smith during his honeymoon cruise in July 2005.

Mr. Crye was not a particularly warm and fuzzy fellow.  Some thought he was symbolic of the cruise industry’s arrogance and indifference to families who lost loved ones on cruises.

I will never forget his performances at the Congressional hearings after women testified about being raped on cruises or when cruise honeymooner George Smith vanished on the high seas under disturbing circumstances.  When the cruise industry faced embarrassment over Royal Caribbean’s mis-handling of Mr. Smith’s disappearance, Mr. Crye told an AP reporter ” it’s difficult if someone chooses to do harm to themselves . . . ”

One of the best know photos of Mr. Crye was taken at the Congressional hearing in December 2005, as he sat in front of George Smith’s mother Maureen, and his widow, Jennifer Hagel.

One of the amusing things I liked to to watch following Congressional cruise hearings was what I called the “Crye exit.” Mr. Crye, the lawyer, would sit behind the CLIA president (Terry Dale or Christine Duffy) while they testified.  At the end of the hearing, Mr. Crye would quickly escort the CLIA president up to Michael Crye - CLIAshake hands with the Congressmen and Congresswomen.  After exchanging pleasantries, he and the cruise line witness would make a beeline for the rear exit of the hearing room.  Mr. Crye would quickly take the CLIA president down a hallway, out a rear door, and into an elevator.

This way the CLIA witness could avoid interacting with the cruise victims’ family members and answering the press’ questions.

In addition to safety issues, Mr. Crye was a leading spokesperson on behalf of the cruise lines on regulatory issues, such as trying to avoid waste-water restrictions and air emission controls on cruise ships.

Mr. Crye’s last public appearance on television was in a documentary earlier this year entitled “Ships of Shame.”  Mr. Crye appears around the 5:23 mark.  He makes an extremely nervous defense of the cruise industry’s safety record.

You can watch the video here.


Photo credit:  Top – Kevin Wolf / AP