A horrific crime occurred in Nassau involving a twenty-four year old Canadian woman cruising to the Bahamas.
"Jane Doe" (whose name is being withheld to protect her confidentiality) cruised aboard Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas from Miami, leaving February 21st. Jane Doe sailed with her father and friends. The cruise ship docked in Nassau on February 23rd.
While ashore the group ended up at Senor Frog's, a popular local bar, early in the evening. Senor Frogs is located at the end of a promenade called the "Woods Rogers Walk," near the Straw Market, close to the wharf where the cruise ships dock.
After leaving the bar to head back to the cruise ship, the young woman was viciously attacked and sustained physical injuries. Looking for help, Jane Doe was then sexually assaulted by a second man (pretending to be a good samaritan) who raped her. She treated in a local hospital in Nassau and then eventually flew home to Canada to recover.
The high crime rate in Nassau is an issue which I have written about frequently on this blog. We have represented and written about many cruise passengers raped or robbed at gun point in Nassau. The Bahamas has the highest incidence of rape in the Caribbean according to a 2007 United Nations report on crime and violence.
Cruise lines are legally obligated to warn passengers of crimes in the ports of call where the cruise ships sail. Unfortunately, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean do not warn of violence against passengers before disembarking them in Nassau, although the U.S. State Department does. A year ago, I was interviewed by Time Magazine in the article "Cruise-Ship Port Call: Gauging Crime in the Bahamas." I also wrote an article warning about violence against women in bars ashore in Nassau. The article is entitled Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe?
In response to the article, we received a letter from Senor Frog's requesting the:
". . . immediate removal of our front entrance picture and name from your website. We feel that your website has a negative impact togards (sic) our facility and our pictures and name has been used causing damage to our name and reputation, regardless of the crime in the bahamas. Senor Frogs Restaurant is a serious stablishment (sic) pro-security we have daily security staff plus the fact that our location is just 1 minute walking distance to a police station our staff always ensure that customers are safe and having a good time we have zero tolerance to crime or disrespectful manners."
Needless to say, we did not retract the reference to Senor Frog's or omit the photo.
We requested a comment from Senor Frog's about this latest incident, and a copy of its response is referenced below.
We also contacted Royal Caribbean for a statement but have received no response.
Below is our article dated March 14, 2010, "Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe?"
The U.S. Department of State has issued a warning of dangers while traveling to the Bahamas, including sexual assaults on cruise ships in the port in Nassau:
"CRIME: The Bahamas has a high crime rate . . . the U.S. Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships. In several incidents the victim had reportedly been drugged."
This type of warning, although certainly warranted, is not what the Bahamas wants to hear. Nassau is a preferred port of call for many cruise ships, which line up like cars in a crowded parking lot.
Today's the headline in the Washington Post's travel section is also not what the Bahamas or the cruise lines which sail there wanted to hear: "Violent Crime Is Up In The Bahamas" Here is a portion of the article:
"Bahamas-bound travelers, beware.
Crime in the popular tourist destination is on the upswing, especially on New Providence Island, where the capital city, Nassau, is located. And we're not talking just petty thefts or purse-snatching, but far more serious violent crime.
This island nation finished 2009 with a record 87 murders -- a statistic tourism officials probably won't be trumpeting in their next "It's Better in the Bahamas" ad . . .
The criminal activity has prompted the operators of the world's largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, to warn its passengers to "be mindful of their personal safety," the Nassau Guardian newspaper reported . . .
Some Bahamians attribute the crime wave to high unemployment (hovering around 15 percent on New Providence Island, according to the Guardian) and the nation's status as a gathering spot for drug traffickers."
We have warned passengers cruising to Nassau about crime for the past 6 months:
The problem with crime in Nassau is real. Many passengers let their guard down and think Nassau is safe for no reason other than the cruise line is sailing there. But we have represented passengers raped in Nassau, passengers raped on cruise ships in the port in Nassau, and multiple passengers robbed in Nassau.
A major problem is when young women go into Nassau and drink at the popular bars near where the cruise ships dock. Many women have been sexually assaulted after leaving the bar even though it is a short distance from the cruise ships. The cruise lines do not provide security at the port nor do they warn about the dangers of date rape drugs and sexual assaults while in Nassau.
The U.S. Department of State warns about young women being sexually assaulted after leaving the cruise ships in Nassau:
"Visitors should exercise caution and good judgment at all times. Engaging in high-risk behavior such as excessive consumption of alcohol can ultimately be dangerous as it greatly increases the vulnerability of an individual to accidents or opportunistic crime. Visitors should not accept rides from strangers or from unlicensed taxi drivers."
March 9, 2011 Update: Senor Frog's in Nassau sent us a statement today - please read: Senor Frog's Comments on Crime Against Cruise Passenger in Nassau.
August 15, 2012 Update: Royal Caribbean Passenger Reports Rape at Senor Frog's in Cozumel.
September 8, 2012 Update: Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals: Cruise Lines Have Duty to Warn of Danger of Crime in Ports of Call - a federal appellate court re-instates a lawsuit against a cruise line for not warning its passengers of danger in St. Thomas. The case involved a 15 year old girl who was celebrating her quinceanera with her parents and brother on a Carnival cruise. A gang-related shoot out ended up with the girl being killed.
Top photo - interior of Senor Frog's looking at cruise ships
Middle photo - Oasis of the Seas - Nassau Bahamas Press
Bottom photo - Senor Frogs Casch52 Flickr photostream