Kevin McGrath Went on a Cruise and Never Came Home : True Crime Diva

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Kevin McGrath, 26, was a divorced father of two and a six-year Army veteran who resided in Port Lucie, Florida.

Over the recent Labor Day weekend, Kevin and about 40 family members and friends boarded Carnival Cruise Line’s ship Carnival Conquest for a three-day cruise to the Bahamas to celebrate his father, Sean McGrath’s 60th birthday. Kevin was nowhere in sight when the ship docked at Port of Miami (PortMiami) upon its return on September 4, Labor Day.

Cell phone footage last shows Kevin dancing to live music on the night of Sunday, September 3. Sean last spoke with his son in Kevin’s room at 10 p.m. and told Kevin to meet the family downstairs for breakfast at 7:30 a.m.

Kevin never showed. Sean asked Kevin’s twin, Andre, where Kevin was because Andre and Kevin shared a room. Andre said Kevin never returned to their cabin. He last saw his twin at 2 a.m. local time Monday morning, and Andre thought he heard Kevin later leave the room between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.

That makes sense because Kevin planned to eat breakfast with the family at 7:30 a.m. He might have left before 7 to do something before eating.

Someone used Kevin’s Sail and Sign card at 3:30 a.m. to enter the room, presumably Kevin. Passengers aboard a cruise ship are given cards, similar to credit cards, used as room keys and to purchase items onboard and online, according to TheStreet.com. Passengers also use them to prove their identity.

Search for Kevin

Kevin’s family notified cruise personnel, and a search for Kevin ensued. However, they found no trace of the young father. It is assumed he went overboard. Yet, the ship’s closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras never captured Kevin going into the sea. Furthermore, Andre and Kevin’s cabin is an interior room. Interior rooms are budget-friendly and do not have balconies or windows.

Carnival staff searched for Kevin and alerted the Miami-Dade police. The U.S. Coast Guard searched over 3,300 square miles for three days for Kevin and found nothing.

According to MiamiDade.gov, PortMiami is the “world’s leading cruise port and the largest container port in the State of Florida” and “welcomed 4,022,544 cruise vacationers in 2022.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection disclosed to Carnival that Kevin’s Sail and Sign card was not detected during the debarkation process at PortMiami. Customs and port authorities must clear the ship before passengers can disembark, and travelers must show their cards to prove their identity. 

Kevin’s disappearance during disembarkation ultimately fueled the overboard theory because there was no other way off the ship. It’s a plausible theory, especially if he drank alcohol Sunday night, September 3. 

Alcohol is a common factor in overboard incidents, Klein told The Times, especially when cruise ships peddle week-long drink packages that can incite passengers to over-imbibe. Klein estimated that alcohol is present in at least 11 percent of falls from cruise ships. A spokesperson for Carnival told Insider at the time that the “only way” to go overboard is to “purposefully climb up and over the safety barriers.”

Erin Snodgrass, Business Insider

MOB System Not Working or None at All?

Most cruise ships have man overboard (MOB) systems to alert staff if someone goes overboard. Carnival Conquest staff told the McGrath family the ship’s alert system was not working and did not detect anyone going overboard. Additionally, Miami-Dade police told the public the same thing. 

James Walker of Cruise Law News writes, “Despite the fact that the U.S. Congress in 2010 passed the Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act which requires cruise ships to install automatic man overboard systems, there are no cruise ships operated by Carnival Cruise Lines or owned by Carnival Corporation which have such life-saving MOB systems. Current auto MOB technology utilizes motion detection systems to detect when someone goes over the rails of a ship and then, using infrared and radar systems, tracks the person in the water even at nighttime.”

Why would Carnival or the police tell the family and public that the system wasn’t working when Carnival did not have any installed in the first place?  Why hasn’t the cruise line installed an MOB system?

Walker also posted this about Carnival’s CCTV on X, formerly Twitter, on September 5:

You Might Be Interested In:

“Carnival’s old-school surveillance CCTV cameras don’t cover all areas where a #cruise guest can go over the rails & into the water.”

Why hasn’t Carnival upgraded its cameras?

Interestingly, Carnival never posted on their Facebook page about Kevin’s disappearance. 

Kevin McGrath: collage of Carnival Facebook posts after his disappearance not discussing Kevin

Passenger Criticizes Carnival

Recently, TikTok content creator Jenn Lyles uploaded a video criticizing Carnival. Jenn was on the Conquest when Kevin vanished. She claims the ship never alerted passengers about Kevin’s disappearance. Instead, it sent out a SURVEY asking about her cruise experience. She later learned of Kevin while watching the news. Carnival never alerted passengers of his disappearance while onboard.

Jenn: “I was on the Carnival Cruise with the guy who went missing,” she said in the 59-second video. “To be clear, I don’t know him. His name is Kevin McGrath. I’ve never met him, but I was on a cruise ship, and it’s weird that no one has been alerted. I got an email this morning from Carnival, a survey [like] tell us how your cruise was. How about an email that says, ‘Hey, there’s a guy missing. Did you see him?’”

Jenn also states that her friends have posted Kevin’s missing flyers on Carnival’s social media pages, but they were taken down.

Here’s Jenn’s video.

@jenn_lyles What are we doing to find this man?! HELP!!!! #kevinmcgarth #missingperson #miamiPD #carnivalcruise ♬ original sound – Jenn Lyles

Still No Answers

What really happened to Kevin McGrath? By all accounts, Kevin loved his children and was in good spirits on the cruise ship. He had no reason to take his own life.

“(His disappearance is) so random, out of nowhere,” Danielle McGrath, Kevin McGrath’s sister, told USA TODAY. “Everyone has different relationships with the person but me, how I know my brother, how I last spoke to him, his energy, his spirit. This is definitely not like him.”

Questions remain:

  • If Kevin went overboard, why didn’t any CCTV cameras capture it?
  • Why didn’t staff alert passengers of Kevin’s disappearance so that they might provide helpful information? Someone might have seen him.
  • Where is the CCTV footage of Kevin on the ship? What about Kevin walking the ship’s decks or entering and leaving his cabin?  

Online sleuths on Facebook pointed to Andre’s possible involvement in Kevin’s disappearance. Suspicion of family members is almost a given, unfortunately. The accusations against the McGraths caused Kevin’s sister to reply.

Kevin McGrath: screenshot of sister Danielle McGrath's Facebook post in group

Additional Sources

Adams, Abigail. “Search Suspended for Man Who Disappeared from Cruise Ship While Celebrating Dad’s 60th Birthday.” People Magazine. September 8, 2023. https://people.com/search-suspended-man-disappeared-from-cruise-ship-celebrating-dads-birthday-7967235

Greenlee Will and Melissa E. Holsman. “Father of Port St. Lucie man missing from cruise ship: ‘We basically just want some answers.’” TC Palm. September 14, 2023. https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/st-lucie-county/2023/09/14/kevin-mcgraths-family-hopes-for-information-about-missing-son/70826583007/

Silvestre, Irish Mae. “Woman blasts Carnival Cruise for sending out survey amid search for missing man.” September 18, 2023. https://dailyhive.com/canada/carnival-cruise-missing-passenger-survey

Wong, Kathleen. “‘I’m sick to my stomach’: Coast Guard stops search for PSL cruise passenger who vanished.” September 8, 2023. https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/st-lucie-county/2023/09/14/kevin-mcgraths-family-hopes-for-information-about-missing-son/70826583007/



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