The issue of the safety of cruise passengers in Mexico is again in the news with the armed robbery of twenty-two cruise passengers in Mexico on Thursday.
The passengers had sailed to Mexico on the Carnival Splendor and were on an excursion near Puerto Vallarta which was advertised and sponsored by the cruise line.
A Mexican newspaper reports that masked men robbed the passengers at gunpoint when they were returning to the cruise ship in a bus after touring "El Nogalito," a natural park. The gunmen took off with the passengers billfolds, watches, cameras, cellphones and jewelry. The newspaper reports that the local authorities initially tried to downplay the incident.
The Puerto Vallarta Robbery is Just Latest Crime Targeting Cruise Passengers
Cruise lines and the local tourism boards usually respond to these type of crimes against tourists by claiming that they are rare.
In the video below (KCAL-9 / CBS Los Angeles) you can hear travel expert Peter Greenberg, say (excitedly) that armed robbery of cruise tourists in buses is "highly unusual" and an "aberration," while mentioning that he has plans to vacation in Mexico next week.
But the truth is that crimes like this are not rare at all. U.S. passengers disembarking into Mexico and the Caribbean Islands are increasingly being targeted by criminals in groups. We hear of virtually no crimes against passengers disembarking in Canada, Alaska or European itineraries. But Mexico and the Caribbean ports of call, plagued by poverty and drugs, are a different story. The banditos go after the money and jewelry and cruise tourists have both. Why target a single tourist when you can rob cruise passengers in bulk in buses in remote areas?
Cruisers are sitting ducks. Consider that over 100 cruise passengers have been robbed at gunpoint or murdered just in Mexico or the Caribbean islands in the last couple of years:
Is the cruise industry providing adequate warnings to families of the dangers ashore in the ports chosen by the cruise lines? It seems to me that unsuspecting cruise guests are being disembarked into increasingly dangerous ports of call in Mexico and the Caribbean.
Expect a lively debate where Mexican officials will understate the problem and the cruise industry defenders will chant "crime occurs everywhere." But it's only in Mexico and the Caribbean ports where cruise passengers are robbed at gunpoint, literally by the busload.