U.S. State Department: Crime In Nassau, Bahamas Is Critical

Bad news for our friends in the Bahamas and cruise passengers intending to vacation there. 

The U.S. State Department's 2012 "Crime and Safety Report" has labeled New Providence island's (including Nassau) criminal threat level as "critical" with Grand Bahama's island's (including Freeport) level as "high."

"In previous years, most violent crimes involved mainly Bahamian citizens and occurred in 'over-the-hill' areas, which are not frequented by tourists," the report stated.  "However, in 2011 there were numerous incidents reported that involved tourists or have occurred in areas in tourist locations.

Nassau Bahamas - Cruise Ship - Crime "In late 2011, there have been numerous reports by cruise ship tourists and others regarding incidents of armed robberies of cash and jewelery. These incidents were reported during daylight and nighttime hours. In several cases, the victims were robbed at knife-point, and gold necklaces and jewelery were taken. "Cash for Gold" is a new business in the Bahamas that may have resulted in the increase of these type of crimes."

Criminal threat levels are ranked as low, medium, high or critical. Other countries in the region also categorized as "critical" are: El Salvador, Guyana, and Ecuador.

"The US Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships. In several incidents, the victim had been reportedly drugged."

Unlike the secretive cruise lines, the newspapers in the Bahamas do a very effective job reporting on issues of high crime.   

The Bahamas has the highest incidence of rape in the world according to a 2007 United Nations report on crime and violence.

Our firm has represented five women sexually assaulted on cruise ships in port in Nassau or ashore in the Bahamas. All of the women raped ashore ranged in age from 17 to 23 and were in seemingly safe locations in downtown Nassau near bars or stores within sight of the cruise ships.  

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Comments (19) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Tami - May 21, 2012 2:48 PM

I appreciate what I read on here. some of it is very interesting... however in looking into this, I can not find on the US Dept of State website to confirm what is written? I am hoping that all travelers use som sort of common sense when traveling here and outside of the US.

www.travel.state.gov

Jim Walker - May 21, 2012 4:14 PM
Worried - May 24, 2012 11:10 AM

This is highly concerning. I have a family cruise booked and paid for in July for a week in the Bahamas. The cruise line has yet to post anything regarding this matter on their website or facebook pages. I know as well as anyone that they certainly are not going to let me cancel my cruise, and I am flying family in from out of state to attend this cruise, non refundable tickets. If I call and ask them if they have sent anyone to investigate the safety of the areas they are selling us excursions to, I would be laughed right off the phone. This was supposed to be a relaxing family vacation, but now what? Cancel our excursions and sit on a ship for a week? My kids would climb the walls! Or take the chance that everything will be ok, but spend my time worried that at any minute we could be robbed at gun point or be caught as innocent bystanders in a drug or gang related fued. Oy vey! If I had not have read this article, I would never have known about any crime threat, as the cruise line has made no mention of it at all, conviently for themselves. :( I always perceived the Bahamas as a peaceful tropical paradise, a place where you could go and relax in paradise. I never would not have known about this had it not been for your post. Thank you Mr. Walker !

Schmedlapp - May 25, 2012 5:37 AM

The Bahamas is an overpriced, crime-ridden tourist trap of a country. Jamaica was dropped from many cruise itineraries in the past few years due to the increase in crime there, would not be surprised at all to see the same happen to Nassau and/or Freeport.

Sol Kirschner, South African billionaire, owns the Atlantis Resort & Casino over on Paradise Island, where rooms regularly sell for $300+ a night...while just across the bridge, broken windows, abandoned shops and gang violence is de rigeur. Obviously, Kirschner invests absolutely none of the profits from his resort back into the community. (He provides jobs, sure, but how about improving education and infrastructure?) I think it might be best for travelers to send a message and spend their money elsewhere, of course it would mean things would only get worse for the Bahamian people.

Tandra - May 25, 2012 7:08 AM

This is quite upsetting being a Bahamian. But any country you go to you will have issues of this nature. Here its just more open and honest about it. So I hope this doesnt turn tourists away. What can happen here is a worldwide epidemic! And in many countries it can be worst. All it is is using your common sense when on vacation. Tourist come of those ships looking for extra curricula activities that they know they shouldnt be apart of and when stuff happens they want to report or put bad mouth on the entire country! If you use common sense and do what you came here for you and your families will all be fine! Remember its always better in the Bahamas!

Raj - May 29, 2012 10:01 PM

Just got back from a trip to Nassau, Bahamas. I stayed at the Hilton near the harbor.
The tourist areas near the harbor are ok during the day. You will be ok if you stay in streets filled with tourists. Junkanoo beach has a very friendly coconut vendor and vendors selling rum based drinks.
If you walk 5 minutes in any direction from the harbor, you will end up in an area with no tourists and the streets will be visibly dangerous. On most days all shops close at 5.00 pm and the streets are deserted by 6.30 PM. You should plan to be back in your hotel by this time. The Hilton has a nice pool, private beach and a bar to keep you entertained. On Saturdays, shops are open till 7.00 PM. An hour later the streets turn creepy.
The busiest bar is Senor Frog. It is open till mid night. If you plan to stay late at the bar, walk back with some friends. It is only 25 yards from the cruise and Hilton, the street is well lit and still not safe. There are hustlers waiting to prey on tipsy visitors. They try to offer you help, strike a friendly conversation or give you some beads. Avoid talking to them, taking anything or even shaking hands. Avoid carrying jewelry, limit cash or any valuable documents. If you are at the Hilton carry an ID, room key and a credit card.
I did meet many really nice people in the Bahamas. Sadly there aren't nearly enough of the nice ones.
Paradise island is comparatively safe and Atlantis resort has a few good activities. Most cruise ships know of the problems and as a result try to leave the port by 7.00 PM

Bahamian - July 2, 2012 2:13 PM

Omg y people is be like that were more crime is than America wow it's sad an bahamians is be rude cause y'all rude us to I work in tourism so I no it's not perfect

William Burnett - August 2, 2012 2:09 AM

I just got back from Freeport today,and I thank God that my family and I are safe back in the U.S. I will NEVER visit the Bahamas again, NEVER! We rented a house in Freeport near the beach and on the second night two men tried to break in at 11pm at night.Thank God the neighbor next door heard the living room window being broken and came to our rescue with a shotgun.The two men took off after the neighbor shot up in the air as a warning,but one of the men shot back as they sped away in a car;luckily no one was hit.After the police arrived and a report was made,we packed our bags and left,we rented the place for two weeks,but I didn't even care that the renters only returned half our money back; we're alive! I should have listen to the U.S. warning about how crime is out of control in the Bahamas, never again will we go to that Country,never again!

Jeremy - October 14, 2012 6:22 PM

I just came from there all the locals said there were no guns and we went to cable beach I felt very insecure I will not be back.... Unless I get to carry a firearm. Just saying

Helen - December 6, 2012 12:24 PM

Omg! Bahamas is my favourite countries in the world ... I think that it is safer than any city in the US...the cruise ships leave port at 5-7 pm from every port not just the Bahamas..bahamas are the nicest people u will meet ...they are not arrogant like some other countries...it really is better in the Bahamas!

joe nickerson - December 22, 2012 3:51 AM

at 9am my wife and i got in a cab to go downtown - i told her don't where any jewlery and don't carry a purse. i left my watch off and only had $40 in my pocket and a credit card nothing else. i have a necklace that i've had for 27 years and had bought it in nassau in 1985. i didn't take it off because i didn't think about it and it's only been off my neck 3 or 4 times in 27 years. i was sitting in the back seat of the cab with my wife and this young guy runs up to the cab and starts talking to the driver - the driver didn't understand him but the next thing i know he sticks both of his hands into the back window which is only 1/2 open and grabs my necklace and starts pulling on it. i fought as best i could but had no leverage - after 30 seconds he rips it off and runs away. we filed a police report but i don't think they will find him although they thought they would. may have just been saying it. this happened in the cab at 9 am on saturday morning 1 block from the marina. really pissed me off - if i would have only thought of it i wouldn't have worn it but since i never take it off it slipped my mind. i've been coming to nassau since 1964 and it hasn't gotten worse over the years for sure. we were last here 5 years ago and it wasn't great but now it is even worse.
the guy at the restaurant we ate at said his wife was getting groceries at the plaza next to the marina and was held up at gun point as she was getting in the car.
this is the first time in my life anyone has held me up like that - it wasn't a good experience. even though this marina has 24 hour security i'm reluctant to leave my boat unattended or take my dinghy out to rose island etc. i may just go to atlantis till my daughter leaves because i know it is safe here.
we will anchor out the rest of the time and from past experience we shouldn't have any issues in the out islands or the abacos - far less people and a totally different type of people.
i've never owned a gun in my life but when i get back to marathon i intend on getting a 12 guage and a 45.
really sucks that you can't even ride in a cab without getting assaulted. 9 am on a saturday - wow.

update - police do nothing - incompetent - my fault for wearing the necklace but it slipped my mind - still sucks! locals told me that 5 yrs ago cash for gold shops opened and they take any gold from anyone if they can. one lady told me that her daughter had her neck cut while a necklace was ripped off her.

nassau thank god is not like the rest of the bahamas - 80% of the population lives in nassau. out islands like exumas and abacos are different - i won't ever come back here again unless it is the drop the hook while headed to the exumas or if i need a part. this happened almost a week ago and i'm still pissed!

exitor - January 30, 2013 11:33 AM

Folks seem to be a bit paranoid here. I'm in big cities in the US all the time - just need to be attentive to your surroundings..
I read the same travel warnings about Mexico - never had a problem. Just keep your head out of the ground and be alert..

frank martino - February 8, 2013 4:51 PM

savage and better armed than in the US, Canada and Europe. The law on the other hand is weaker. just read what happened to those poor 6 spaniard girls a few days back in Acapulco. In most of latin america and the caribbean, public transportation is not safe. many times, taxi drivers are the ones that informs the criminals of you. renting a house by the beach, unless you are planning to hire arm guards also...is plain stupidity. Hope I safe at least one of you with this post.

Christian - March 3, 2013 5:15 PM

I just got home from a cruise and one of the stops was Nassua. The locals are friendly and imaginative. I am a single women and ventured to the Straw Market alone. I was propositioned but I have good sense. I would not go somewhere alone with a man I do not know at home and certainly not in a country/area that I am not familiar with. Be safe ladies and gentlemen. Use common sense when you travel and keep your eyes open.

Joe - March 7, 2013 7:43 PM

Just got back from a cruise that stopped in Nassau.. Was only there like 10 hours but I enjoyed it .. It was annoying how aggressive some people were trying to get you to buy something though... Went snorkeling off a catamaran and the guys on the boat were great.

Howard Taylor - May 24, 2013 6:59 PM

DOWNTOWN NASSAU, BAHAMAS IS A DISASTER AREA.
Howard, May, 2013.

Downtown Nassau is quickly becoming a ghetto.
Many young (16-20 year old) Bahamian males are finding that crime pays. - They do not want to work, and they hang around during the day doing nothing. The smell of pot is common.
The attitude of these punks is often very confrontational.

It seems like nearly everyone in Nassau is on the take in some form or another.

Nightly muggings of tourists are a common affair. Do not walk around at night alone, the probability of being accosted is very high.
A crew member from our ship (Liberty Clipper) was shot and killed on May 4, 2013 by four (4) Bahamian males that were trying to mug a woman on a downtown Nassau street.

Nearly all of downtown stores have bars covering doors and windows, and many require a buzzer to open the door.
The Marinas along the Nassau shore are surrounded with high fences topped off with razor wire. Access to the shore and marinas is very restricted.

If you use a credit card for purchases, chances are that huge over-charges await you when returning to the states.
Also look out for illegal "Currency Transfer Charges" of $5 to $15 for nearly every charge card transaction.
Hotels are known to add a day to your bill for “Late Checkout”, knowing that you probably won’t notice or challenge the extra charge.

Cash purchases are recommended to protect your credit card from fraud, however, even here you may receive your change in phony Bahamian currency; - insist on U.S. currency for your change.

During operating hours, most stores employ guards, but after hours, all protection is gone.

Prices for goods and food is generally double that for the same items in the states.
A ½ gallon of Haagen-Dazs ice cream is $16.00

Hookers are everywhere especially in hotels and bars suggesting a massage or body rub for a price.

Customs check-in at the Nassau airport generally requires a 30 to 50 minute standing in-line for processing, then, this long wait is repeated again for immigration and registration.

Police stations abound, but cops are as scarce as hen’s teeth.

Traffic is fierce for the narrow busy streets in Nassau, and the 25 MPH limit is totally ignored. Taxi Drivers are independent, and insist on huge tips. Cost of a taxi from the airport is $35.00 plus tips.

Statistics show that only 9% of unhappy customers will complain, so this letter represents the 91% that are unhappy and will not return, but are not interested in complaining about it.
Tourism is the primary source of income for Nassau; -

If the Ministry of Tourism does not, or can not, get this situation under control and fast, Nassau is going to join the list for the most undesirable places to visit for tourists.

William Gibson - August 12, 2013 10:56 PM

A total waste of time and money, ruddiest people I have ever had the displeasure of meeting. Did not feel safe anywhere we went, Bahamian drunks whistling at my 12 year old daughter and wife everywhere we shopped. In the Bahamian newspapers there were at least 1 or 2 murders a day; my wife refused to stay the whole week. Next time I'll save a little more and return to the Grand Cayman, a place you can drive anywhere and feel safe. The Bahamas is in serious trouble if it depends on tourism. We will never return to the Bahamas, they sell their Country as a Paradise; far from it.

William Gibson - August 12, 2013 11:11 PM

And one more thing, Watch the video "Caribbean Crime Wave" on YouTube.com. before you decide to visit the Bahamas. You will see and hear a Bahamian news reporter and police talk about how The Bahamas has become a high crime Country, and now they live like caged animals because their so afraid. Thank you for your website and time, your doing a great job keeping us safe, Proud to be American!

Cathy Rolle - August 15, 2013 2:54 PM

I am Bahamian living in the U.S. now, and I tell you with all my heart.......You and your family are safer taking a vacation in the South Bronx, NY than in the Bahamas. My Country is no longer safe in any way, the youth rather murder and steal than work. A mentally brought on by the violent rap music they listen to. A Country that sells you a Paradise when is fact it's a War zone. They say " Your Better In The Bahamas"....NOT!, more like, "YOUR DEADER IN THE BAHAMAS".....Stay safe and spend your hard earned money elsewhere.

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