Antigua National Security Investigates Fist Fight Between Cruise Passengers & Police Over Broken $5 Souvenir
A newspaper in Antiqua reports today about an altercation which allegedly occurred between two cruise passengers & their child and police officers in a souvenir shop in Antigua.
In an article entitled "Cruise Passengers and Police Come to Fisticuffs," the Antigua Obeserver states that a souvenir shop in the touristy Heritage Quay section of St. John's was the scene of a fist fight yesterday allegedly between two police officers and a couple and their child from Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas. The incident occurred in the the Shipwreck Shop whose website shows pirate statues at the shop's entrance and states that "Shipwreck is the perfect little souvenir shop, filled with all sorts of trinkets." The stores sells an assortment of items including ". . . fridge magnets, shot glasses, key rings and even small Caribbean Christmas tree decorations."
The incident apparently occurred when a child from the cruise ship broke an item valued at less than $5 (U.S.). The owner of the store told the newspaper that he informed the passengers of the store’s “You break it, you pay for it” policy, but the parents declined to pay for the item. The owner, who refused to identify himself to the newspaper, apparently called the local police who arrived on the scene.
According to the Antigua Observer, the couple told the police that they were not going to pay for the broken souvenir, and an altercation occurred when they tried to leave the store.
The unidentified shop owner said that the cruise passengers were allegedly hostile to his staff and law enforcement officers. He says that an apology would have been sufficient but the "child got very abusive." The owner further claims that the child was "beating up on the police." The ship owner further stated: " We must not allow these people to talk down to us. I only want happy customers. The father and his son got very physical. They were hostile to the police and my staff. The officers were being fair and only doing their job. People have to treat people with respect.”
The newspaper article indicates that the police made no arrest, and the cruise passengers returned to the ship.
The newspaper further states that the island's Ministry of National Security was notified and paid a visit to the souvenir shop to investigate.
The newspaper contains a second curious twist stating that the cruise ship’s captain allegedly apologized to the shop owner the passengers' behavior and said "he would be asking them to disembark at the next port."
This is rather unusual because cruise lines like Royal Caribbean tell the cruise passengers that they are on their own while ashore. However, the cruise line Guest Conduct Policy states that its standards of conduct for guests to follow apply "throughout their Royal Caribbean International cruise vacation, including transfers to and from ships, inside terminals, while onboard, at ports of call, during shore excursions and at our private destinations."
It will be interesting to see if the cruise line dumps the family off at the next port, or whether the captain threatened this merely to placate the shop owner and the island's National Security.
A strange story in any event, this is something that begs hearing the passenger's side of these events.
We have reported about all types of things which occur involving cruise passengers ashore in Antigua, such as a young woman being murdered and cruise passengers attacked and robbed and six cruise passengers from Brooklyn arrested after disputing a cab fare and fighting with the police in Antigua. For one, I'd like to understand why the Antigua Ministry of National Security got involved in an altercation involving a broken souvenir trinket worth less than $5.
January 5, 2013 Update: Another newspaper contains the "other side of the story." Caribarena Antigua states that "eyewitness reports from taxi drivers in the area suggests that the police officers were the aggressors, having reportedly “roughed up” the lad in front of his parents and as they interjected they too became victims, with even the pregnant mother receiving a thug or two."
"The family was eventually ordered and escorted back to the ship by a senior officer who arrived on the scene. And during that journey, the child is reported to have wetted himself out of fear."
Irrespective of what occurred, news accounts of a broken trinket, a boy who wets himself, a pregnant mother, and a violent encounter with police will surely cast a black eye on Antigua.
In an unrelated article in the Antigua Oberserver today, tourism officials state that they are optimistic about attracting cruise visitors to Antigua this year.
The brawl in the tourist area comes at the same time that Antigua announced that it formed a new police unit to protect tourists from crime.
Photo: Shipwreck Shop