Is Your Cruise Line or Travel Agent Warning You of Crime in the Bahamas?

On New Year's eve, a major newspaper in the Bahamas published an article about crime affecting cruise ship passengers and crew.

The Tribune said that on December 13th, the United States Embassy in Nassau warned of increased violent, criminal activity in the Bahamas.  The embassy warned that armed robbery remains a “major threat” facing U.S. visitors to the Bahamas. A few days later, the Nassau Guardian discussed the warnings by the U.S. State Department and Carnival cruise line to cruise passengers and also mentioned that Acting Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis was robbed by three men in his own home at gun point.

A representative of Carnival was quoted telling governmental officials in Nassau that the cruise lines remain concerned Nassau Bahamas Cruise Ship Crimeabout incidents of crime in The Bahamas, including Nassau.

In 2013, we wrote a dozen articles about widespread violence in Nassau targeting tourists in the Bahamas arriving by cruise ships and vessels. The cases involve armed robbery, rape and murder. The incidents are happening near the port and just outside of the Atlantis resort. You can read one article here. The local newspapers are filled with stories and images of crime against tourists and local citizens alike.  

Recently, cruise passengers aboard the Celebrity Constellation were stuck in Key West for an extra day when the cruise line replaced an engine. When they finally set sail, the cruise line took them over to the nearby Bahamas rather than down to Cozumel. Many passengers expressed their concern that Celebrity sailed them to crime-ridden Nassau.

I wonder just how many travelers understand the danger of sailing into Nassau?   

Which cruise lines are passing warnings on to their passengers?

The homicide and violent crimes rates in Nassau are higher than any U.S. city. 

Are there any travels agents warning their clients to stay away from Nassau because of crime?    

 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below, or join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

Photo Credit: Tribune newspaper

Note: I erroneously published this article under the date January 3, 2013. The correct date should be January 3, 2014.

Update: Its seems that many in the Bahamas are mad that the U.S. Embassy has issued the warning. Others suggest that the crime statistics in the Bahamas are understated in order to protect the island's reputation. Read: US Embassy's Duty Is To Their Citizens, Not The Bahamas.

Crime in the Bahamas has been a problem for a long time: When we started this blog in 2009, some of our first articles involved the Bahamas where robbers stole from large groups of cruise passengers at gunpoint, such as this case where armed men targeted 11 passengers visiting the Queen's Staircase and robbed them on a Sunday afternoon. A month later armed robbers struck again when 18 cruise passengers from Disney and Royal Caribbean were robbed during a cruise excursion.  

We also suggest readingToo little, too late? A cruise passenger robbed in Nassau speaks out. “We were repeatedly assured by police that ‘this never happens,’ and yet, 21 people were victims of aggravated theft in one day, each in busy tourist areas that are supposedly safe. I was horrified when I started doing the research online and saw just how much armed robbery, theft and violence is happening in Nassau these days.”

Read our last article about crime in Nassau - see what the local press is saying

See images of the violence from the local press in Nassau.

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Comments (35) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Robin - January 3, 2014 1:28 PM

On our December 28th cruise we were told by Carnival of the raised travel alert issued by the US Embassy.

Jennifer - January 3, 2014 2:10 PM

I am a Bahamian and I can not deny this article. It is the truth. However, I would like to inform anyone reading that the Bahamas has approximately 700 islands and cays. Paradise Island and Nassau (New Providence) are 2 out of 100's. If you want to experience tranquility, peacefulness, and exceptional hospitality travel to our other islands. Abaco, Grand Bahama, Exuma, Andros, Eleuthera and many more where crime is very low and for most unheard of. Our capitol is over crowded and poorly managed just like many other Capitol cities around the world. I don't recommend vacationing there unless you are uber rich and can afford to stay in resorts with heavy security behind big gates, Like Ocean Club or Albany.

Kevin - January 3, 2014 2:47 PM

On our December 15th cruise aboard the Carnival Breeze we were warned about recent crimes in Nassau. The warning was even published on the front page of the daily "Funtimes."

Jim Walker - January 3, 2014 3:27 PM

Was anyone told before they purchased their cruise ticket of the warning?

Datus - January 3, 2014 3:28 PM

I think this article is some what exaggerating the facts. Yes Nassau has seen an increase in violent crime, most of which is gang related and victims are known by their assailants. Most of the crimes occur within the inner city areas and not the tourist hot spots as reported by this article.

The crimes that seldom occur near cruise ship ports are petty thefts, drug dealing and occasional sexual assaults that usually happen to passengers who engage in reckless behavior, may I add happen in every country around the world. I don't see why The Bahamas should be targeted as a high risk destination.

I speak from personal knowledge as I am a police officer serving in The Bahamas with feet on the ground. Tourists who fall victim to crime here are those who wonder into harms way, are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or those who go against advice and venture into areas they should not be in.

Nassau and Paradise Island are still safe and police and security personel are all over in uniform to provide protection if and when any thing may go wrong. So to portray Nassau as unsafe for tourist to visit and instill this sense of fear into people who never visited is totally wrong. This is not Iraq or the Middle East. We are not a country at war and we are certainly not a country with persons who randomly attack our guests. We have a handful of thugs who are at odds with one another in our inner city. Keep blogging but unless you know first hand whats going on it is best not to make statements that sound factual when in fact it is false. The local news paper you are referring to, we all know they are in the business of selling papers.

Don Sayman - January 3, 2014 4:08 PM

we have completed 65 cruises since 1995 move to Florida the simple answer to the simple question. STAY ON THE SHIP it is very safe there. why would anyone want to get off a cruise ship is beyond me. we find it pleasant with all others gone. hey, should have kept my mouth shut, now all know. thanks. keep up the good work Jim we appreciate it.

sb - January 3, 2014 5:42 PM

Datus, are you nuts!? Your ridiculous deflecting comment is exactly why we are in the situation we are! There have been numerous tourist robberies, rapes etc... in downtown Nassau. And the same thing has happened on Paradise Island! And how many have not been reported. Every radio talk show echoes this report. How many businesses are open downtown after dark?? Only bars and restaurants because of the crime! I have lived here for 13 years and I fear for my life whenever I encounter a conflict with someone. And, before you tell me to leave if I don't like it... If I didn't have a son here from marriage, I would have been gone! Per capita, this place is murder capital. And don't lie, most Bahamians feel the same way. Don't try and fool people on this site with your crap excuses! Keep the blinders on and it will affect you as well! Who robs the equivilent of the Vice President of the U.S.A. at his house during the day?! The Bahamas! Maybe if we didn't have people like you covering for the lack of judicial justice, we may make some progress! It's not the police. They do a great job! It's the legal system that lets the criminals out because we can't prosecute in time before they are let out on bail. Capital punishment without bowing down to the Privy Counsel is killing this beautiful nation!

T - January 3, 2014 6:50 PM

Well said Datus. I to agree that this article is heavily exaggerated. To say that the violent crime and homicide here is higher than any u.s city is absolutely ludicrous and absurd. We have crime as do all countries worldwide and the crime is primarily happening in the inner city and not targeted to tourists. I am a hotelier and have been for the past 10 years and I can count the very few times any incidents of major concern took place.

To Jennifer if you are truly Bahamian you should edit your post and not agree with such an highly exaggerated article and not paint a picture of more than what it is.

The Bahamas is where we call home and to read an article of such feels like a personal target and should be defended in 100% truth and not agreed upon as if everything said is accurate and factual.

Jim Walker - January 3, 2014 7:02 PM

"T" (Tia):

What hotel do you work at?

Thanks Jim Walker

Jenny - January 3, 2014 9:37 PM

I am an American living in the Bahamas for the last 9 years.. The report is extremely exaggerated. Paradise Island is very safe and to say anything else is a lie. Most of the crime is over the hill. Tourist should not go over the hill. The out islands are amazing and crime is unheard of. Tourist just need to use common sense.

Mike - January 3, 2014 10:25 PM

Why don't you tell all passengers taking a cruise from Miami that they have killings about 2 or more per night.

Jim Walker - January 3, 2014 11:11 PM

Mike: Because there are not "2 or more" killings in Miami a night. Nassau has a substantially higher homicide rate than Miami. I realize that you live in Nassau, but making things up won't solve your crime problem.

oxe - January 4, 2014 3:56 AM

How can you be looked at as a creditable source when you report that the prime minister of the Bahamas was rob and you do not even have the correct name of the prime minister in your article. Lastly Brave Davis is not the prime minister of the bahamas. As for crimes against tourist it rearly happens and in every country misfortunes happen and crime happens among tourist. Next the crime that is going on is among locals and is mostly gang related or revenge crimes. Next the only reason why you may claim that the crime is rapidly increasing is because the media blows it up. We may have a death till of 100-120 please tell me the percentage of this to our population... if you want to talk about these situations use statistics rather than drawing conclusion from printed articles in which journalists write their thoughts not facts.lastly get your information straight before you assume things you KNOW nothing of. Outsider looking in, as if you live here.. would appreciate if you stop trying to tarnish my small country's name.... CRIME IS EVERYWHERE.

TXR - January 4, 2014 7:15 AM

So what's the purpose in visiting IF tourist can't visit the over the hill area? Why do Bahamians choose to mask what is going on? We have a huge problem in our country! ESPECIALLY NASSAU and it needs to be fixed NOW!

We market tourism as our MAIN INDUSTRY but yet, the authorities have let the crime issue spiral out of control!

Almost EVERY SINGLE DAY there is a murder! Just a week ago 4 INNOCENT PEOPLE were murdered by a drive by shooting. Yes...the gated communities are safe, as they should be, but if criminals want access, they will get it.

Come on Bahamians! Stop trying to hide the fact that this crime situation is out of control. Per capita, our murder rate is high! London has some 8 million people, and only has some 80 murders or less a year. Our country has an estimated 350,000 people, and we have seen 127 murders in 2013! And we supposed to tell the foreigners ITS SAFE! GET REAL! I don't even feel safe in my own home! And I don't live in the "ghetto" or over the hill!

Indeed, the out Islands are beautiful and safe. Tourists can get the true feel of island life if they visit the islands like, Andros, Exuma, Eleuthera, Bimini, Grand Bahama etc, but, Nassau? HELL NO!

If tourism was our main industry, then it would not matter about the crime...but because we are a DESTINATION location then it should be publicised. Foreigners don't want to leave the safety of their home, to go on vacation, to be possibly raped, robbed and/or murdered!

To all reading this, just be careful and vigilant if you choose to venture out into Nassau.

Igor Pavela - January 4, 2014 7:41 AM

safe?? my colleague from Hungary got robbed , armed robbery, on the way to atlantis resort by feet, just because he didn't want to go by taxi, wanted to take a walk along bay side... safe?? black guy
came with a gun, layed him to ground and tok all he had ... safe??? not in the hills, in a middle of a town main street

ernie - January 4, 2014 11:34 AM

I agree with Jennifer's statement above. I'm also a Bahamian and too long there have been negative talks about crime in the Bahamas. There is a crime problem all over the world and though I can't deny that it also affects us, I can also say that the Bahamas is NOT Nassau. We have many other islands the are virtuously CRIME FREE, so feel free to visit the peaceful islands of The Bahamas.Nassau is but ONE

Jim Walker - January 4, 2014 12:56 PM

Oxe:

Acting Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis is the "Acting Prime Minister" and sometimes called the "Deputy Prime Minister." Read your papers in your country my friend. He was jacked up by three gunmen in his own house! That's like the Vice President of the U.S. being robbed. How can you pretend to provide a safe place for tourists to come ashore from the cruise ships when you can't protect the Honorable Mr. Davis?

You homicide problem, whether you look at statistical comparisons, crime rates or total numbers, is out of control.

Yes I have been in Nassau many times. I have sailed and flown in. Robberies and rapes of my clients have brought me there on official business. I have been inside of your courthouses. You are letting lots of young, dangerous men back on the streets. You have a problem.

But ignore my articles if you want. Read your own articles from the Tribune and the Guardian. Your press is excellent. The reporters there are reporting the truth without any varnish.

Your community will be abandoned by the cruise lines if and when a passenger is gunned down on Bay Street.

Stop worrying about your image and start worrying about the armed robberies which are ruining it.

Jim Walker

Johnathan - January 4, 2014 2:00 PM

This article makes it sound as if there is rampant violence against tourists in the Bahamas. While there is an increase in violence in Nassau, I have personally heard of only maybe 3 tourist related incidents. Most of the people affected by dangerous activities in the Bahamas are Bahamians not the tourists.

DAD - January 4, 2014 2:01 PM

The Bahamas like many places in the Caribbean are plagued with issues most recently in the past 7 years or so due to the policies of the US to ship violent criminals from their jails to the place that they were horned and not necessarily grew up. So if you track the current issue and align you would see the trend up ticking.

I am a Bahamian and Can admit that we have issues but the incidents against Tourist are minimal at best and with a bit of awareness they can venture over the hill as the recent incidents are targeted and not random.

Jimmy, not sure what your motive is or what deal in the
Bahamas did not go right for you but this article is extremely one sided.

Jim Walker - January 4, 2014 2:28 PM

DAD:

You're right. The U.S. sends Bahamian men back to the Bahamas once they serve jail time in the U.S. for violent crimes.

But you're wrong about wandering over the hill. Its a recipe to have a gun pointed in your face.

Unfortunately you're part of the crowd ignoring your own press and trying to minimize the risk to visitors.

My motivation is to warn tourists of the high crime rate in Nassau which is much higher than their home cities here in the U.S.

Jim Walker

Vince - January 4, 2014 2:44 PM

This article is disturbing. While this does include factual information regarding the increased criminal activity in Nassau, it definitely exaggerates the issue and DOES NOT state the fact that the most recent incidents (reason for the article obviously) were involving locals in the inner city. It also DOES NOT state the fact that the Cruise Line Representative who expressed concern for crime went on to retract his statement.

Paradise Island is by far quite safe. Of course nowhere on earth is perfect without crime but crime on PI is very little to none.
Secondly, Bay Street where tourist board and un-board their cruises is flooded with Police Officers everyday! There are two police stations within this area ESPECIALLY during times of high population when both tourist and locals are exploring the area.

Mr. Jim Walker, you stated that "The homicide and violent crimes rates in Nassau are higher than any U.S. city."
Like most have expressed, Crime is everywhere! I have never been to Detroit, Oakland, St. Louis or Compton but the crime rates there are extremely high to the point where you have to watch what colors you wear!!!!

I didn't come on here to bash any US cities but lets be real, tourist aren't guaranteed safety in much US cities either, especially with the higher population and increased resources available to US citizens to commit such acts.

Mr. Jim Walker, you also stated that "Its seems that many in the Bahamas are mad that the U.S. Embassy has issued the warning. Others suggest that the crime statistics in the Bahamas are understated in order to protect the island's reputation"

This is because not every crime is reported, AS IS WITH EVERYWHERE AROUND THE WORLD.
Do I need to say what the result of unreported crimes will be?

In a nutshell, my advice is to BE SAFE REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU ARE! You do not have to be in a foreign country to be a victim of any of these violent crimes. As a matter of fact it does not matter who you are, your guard should be up to the max when outside of your comfort zone.
I have traveled to the United States many times and as a foreigner I have read, heard and seen criminal activities being done. Uncomfortable? Yes....but we don't live in Heaven yet do we?

To you Mr. Jim Walker, while it is 100% fair to warn others to be mindful of such things...PLEASE DO BETTER!

Dad - January 4, 2014 2:49 PM

Jim, there are always three sides to a story, yours, mines and the trust but as you have a mission to accomplish you would see my comments as defensive but it is the truth. Yes The Bahamas has a targeted, embarrassing crime wave but anyone venturing over the hill for a tour and not for drugs or sex will be safe if they are also aware. No place or City is safe but to label Nassau as a gun town is simply bias and wrong.

If TXR choose to sit at their not ghetto or over the hill area and be scared, the you are an idiot..... It ain that serious

Teddy - January 4, 2014 3:41 PM

I understand to every degree,why this article was written. However,you forgot to mention every truth that Bahamians have to endure coming to your country. We do not war against other nations,nor do we HAVE to look twice at another human being because they will kidnap our kids. We've had isolated cases and only by three. Yes,the Bahamas is suffering from the crime issues but families also. Our judicial system is making a mockery of its people. When an American does harm or fraud,he doesn't get as much time as the civilian. The civilians are suffering more than the tourist. The most death we've had in the Bahamas from tourist is basically THAT persons fault. Bahamians do not swim in rough waters,but you would. That leads to drowning. Some tourists come here for drugs,sex and gambling. The Bahamas is not only Nassau,the capital. It too has many other islands and cayswhich are very quiet and serene. Peaceful to the heart. The people are less agitated by crime because there is none. It's all happiness when we see newbies to enjoy a little fun with and call them friends. Nassau is the problem. If you want a quiet time,go to the other islands. If you want the dramatic scenery,go to Nassau read an article.

Jim Walker - January 4, 2014 3:43 PM

DAD: Why call TXR an "idiot?" He's your Bahamian brother. You need more love in your city, less hate. And yes, the stories and statistics say Nassau is a gun town. Why go on vacation to a place where you have to worry about such things?

kim - January 4, 2014 5:13 PM

why do bahamain trys to hide the truth am a bahamain living in the bahamas crime is terrible i would nt advice no one to come here ,the men here robb and rape the tourists ye they do so stop telling yall lies

Dad - January 4, 2014 5:35 PM

Jim... I totally agree and say the same thing each time I have to connect through Miami and need to ensure that I am not followed when I leave the car rental place or when I leave one of the malls when I come to shop. Interesting enough, we have the same concerns and issues with Orlando where we spend millions and millions each summer and Christmas but we take precaution to ensure our safety.

I love my Bahamian Brothers and Sister and love, love my country! The term idiot was an expression and not an insult but I refuse to sit back and allow you or anyone to malign my country. Do we have a crime problem YES, can we improve on that YES, are we a gun culture NO, can tourist still safely rent a moped or car and drive the island without injury HELL YES.

Seabeach - January 4, 2014 9:24 PM

The majority of tourists that are robbed here are those going into the ghetto for drugs. There is a small percentage which are innocent but tell me which city in the US that dont have robberies? Additionally, there are many over the hill places in US cities where people do in fact get robbed and even Americans stay out off those areas. Come on! We might be called "paradise" but we are faced with the same negative issues as in places where you are from. People would always be people no matter where they are from.

Ro - January 4, 2014 11:28 PM

We left Nassau two years ago after living there over 10 years...the last year while there our home was broken into and we were cleaned out of everything they could carry and sell....then not more than 6 months later my husband was help up in a public parking lot by two masked me with guns...I don't have to embellish on the fear we experienced on both occasions..we were always aware and cautious constantly but we were hit not once but twice...we decided we did not want to live in a place where one feels unsafe and scared whenever going out...closed up with bars and security doors very much like a prison..so we left and are thankful we could leave as so many Bahamians cannot...Nassau has lost its charm, it's enjoyment, it's flair, and has become a dangerous place to live or visit....I would never recommendit as a place to visit and I can do so because of our personal experience while living there....not hearsay or rumors...!!!!

Benizon - January 5, 2014 8:22 AM

I don't see what is the issue with the article. The American embassy is warning US visitors to the Bahamas that Nassau is dangerous. Bahamians are seriously denying this? Wasn't a high ranking official at the US embassy in the Bahamas robbed? Why would you assume the US embassy would not pass along such information. And I'm Bahamian as well. I understand the pride that Bahamians have and how disturbing it is to hear bad things about your country. But denial is why there is an issue. And the Bahamas has a murder rate in the top 5 on the planet. That is a fact. Jamaica and Honduras are the only countries I can think of off the top of my head with higher murder rates. Do your research, the numbers do not lie. Which is why the government "redefined" what constitutes "murder". Because numbers don't lie.

Jeremy Rahming - January 5, 2014 10:47 AM

Crime is everywhere in the world, not just in the Bahamas, we have to be careful anywhere we/you go.... We don't make gun but they are out there, no where is safe or no one, if you don't be careful they will pray on you, stay in groups, area with lights, police around, an always let someone know where you are at all times, (when you leave, an when you reach)......

Hubert A. I. - January 5, 2014 12:02 PM

There is a war going on in Nassau Bahamas. The authorities can't control it, and are too busy playing good PR to save face. The only resolution is to remove Nassau fro your port of call. There is word going around that the killings and robberies will be increased as the war continues.

Samantha Fox - January 5, 2014 1:38 PM

Crime is everywhere in the world,not just The Bahamas. Also Nassau is just one of the many islands in The Bahamas. There are Outer Family Islands in The Bahamas that do not experience such crimes.
Islands such as Abaco,Andros,Acklins,Bimini,Berry Islands,Crooked Island,Cat Island,Eleuthera,Long Island,Mayaguana,Inagua,San-Salvadore,Rum Cay,Ragged Island and many more that are better for relaxation,family time,adventure,hisorical,and above all safe.
Crime is everybody's business,and if we all learned to stop hiding criminals and covering up wrong doings everywhere will be a better place to live.

TBoy - January 5, 2014 11:46 PM

The articles are being totally exaggerated and making it seem like there are armed robbers running around Nassau like the wild west!! Nassau has it's problems but it's sure as crap not that bad. Nassau has the same problems as any big city around the world not sure why everyone's making it seem like it's the only place in the world with crime. Bahamians are robbed blind every summer in the U.S particularly in Florida during shopping trips when they are targeted for the large amount of goods they purchase so lets be fair. Like everyone says Nassau in not The Bahamas so in articles people need to be more clear and not tarnish the entire country for one single island especially when there are so many other islands that exist virtually crime free. But for a little food for thought I'll put this as simple as possible in 2012, The United States had upwards of 14,000 murders. In 2013 The Bahamas had just over 100 murders now you tell me who has the crime problem!!

Nicolette N - January 6, 2014 5:35 PM

I live in the Bahamas and can tell you the country is gripped by crime right now. People are afraid to go out, especially at night. I go to work and back home, I'm a single mom with two daughters at home, preparing to relocate out of the Mad City, but until I'm being extremely cautious.
I'm honestly surprise the Tourism Industry hasn't been hard hit by crime, this is probably why the Government are sitting on their hands about the crime issue.

Ron - February 17, 2014 1:47 AM

I was in Nassau last week for a day, I was on a cruise. We walked to the beach, in a 10 minute walk we had 4 different people trying to sell us drugs. We had no Idea it was like this. If I go on a cruise again, I'll stay on the ship while in Nassau. I didn't feel safe at all there.

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