Among the hundreds of awards that were given out on Australia Day, one name stood out to those in the cruise industry: Mark Brimble.

Since the 2002 death of his ex wife Dianne aboard P&O Cruises Pacific Sky, Mr Brimble has campaigned for increased safety standards in the cruise industry. This week he was officially recognised with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) “For service to the community through the promotion of safety for cruise line passengers”.

Dianne Brimble’s death sent shockwaves through the cruise industry. Ms Brimble, a mother of three, died of a drug overdose on the first night of a 10-night cruise after being given the drug Fantasy (or GHB) by men she met onboard.

Three men, Mark Wilhelm, Leo Silvestri and Ryan Kuchel, were charged with drug offences relating to the incident. Manslaughter charges were laid against Wilhelm, but ultimately dropped in 2010.

The case brought into focus the ‘party hard’ culture of cruising that seemed to exist on many lines, particularly P&O. Cruise holidays were seen by many as an opportunity to drink to excess with little consequence. Liquor laws that applied on land were left behind as the ship pulled away from the dock.

Fast forward to today and cruises are positioned as the ideal family holiday. A safe, fun, relaxed environment for people of all ages to enjoy themselves. And it’s largely because of Ms Brimble’s death.

Carnival Australia told Cruise Passenger: “The inquest into the tragic death of Ms Dianne Brimble was a catalyst for changes that have taken place across the Australian cruise industry.

“The changes developed significant momentum that has seen big improvement in the cruise product and the introduction of more cruise brands and more ships offering cruise holiday options for every demographic group. While the surge in cruising has been built on an improved product and a wider demographic, the lessons learned from the Dianne Brimble tragedy are never forgotten.”

The transformation was across the board including strict RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) policies, use of comprehensive coverage of CCTV technology, a zero tolerance of excessive behaviour that can affect the enjoyment of other passengers and the development of protocols with the Australian Federal Police, state police forces and South Pacific heads of police for the proper investigation of alleged crimes at sea.

The transformation has made cruising one of the safest holiday choices. The community has supported this direction and the industry’s remarkable growth is testament to its success.

Carnival Australia has congratulated Mark Brimble on his Australia Day honour for his contribution to cruise passenger safety. Carnival said “Mr Brimble’s advocacy and the industry leadership of Ann Sherry as head of Carnival Australia resulted in the complete transformation of the cruise industry in Australia.”