Cruise Critic reports that 55 cruise passengers and two crew members from the Celebrity Eclipse were robbed at gunpoint by three men on Friday, April 12 2013 while in St. Lucia.
Celebrity Cruises issued a statement indicating that passengers were visiting the Botanical Gardens in Soufriere at the time of the robbery and were on two Celebrity-sponsored shore excursions, "Breathtaking Soufriere and Warm Mineral Baths" and "Land and Sea to the Pitons." Passengers were traveling on the same bus.
Celebrity states that "none of our guests were injured in this unfortunate event," but Cruise Critic states that passengers reported that "one woman fell and broke her leg."
No one is talking about the potential emotional trauma and psychological effects of the armed robbery.
All the cruise passengers aboard the bus had their money and jewelry taken.
Cruise passengers to St. Lucia have been targeted in St. Lucia the past. We have written articles about the crime problem in that island: 14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia.
The problem got so bad that NCL dropped the island for its 2010 to 2012 schedule. Read Norwegian Cruise Line Drops St. Lucia.
Robbing passengers on cruise-sponsored bus excursions is hardly rare. In 2010, 17 Celebrity cruise passengers were robbed in a bus by gunmen in St. Kitts. "Robbing cruise passengers in bulk" in the Caribbean islands and Mexico is not uncommon and I have written about it: Robbing Cruise Passengers in Bulk - Yes, It Happens!
I wonder whether Celebrity provided any warning to its guests about the problem with cruise passengers being targeted for armed robbery in St. Lucia and other Caribbean islands?
If you have info about this latest crime, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.
April 14 2013 Update: A video from a local news station in St. Lucia is below. You will hear tourism officials stating that they told the cruise passengers that such incidents against tourists are "rare," which is obviously untrue if a major Miami based cruise line like NCL pulled out in 2010.
The U.S. national media has picked up the story with Fox News carrying a AP story which mentions the incident. Not much information except the St. Lucia tourism people already hard at work. The article quotes St. Lucia Tourist Board Chairman Mathew Beaubrun portraying the robbery as a "rare incident." Damage control is underway.
April 15 2013 Update: USA TODAY assists in the PR damage control, repeating the St. Lucia talking point that crime in that country is "rare."
Several newspapers are reporting that the police on St. Lucia have arrested one or more of the men involved in the robbery. Fox News says that the police arrested one of "four masked men armed with homemade shotguns and pistols held up the passengers from Celebrity Cruise." The Times mentions that three men were arrested.
April 20 2013 Update: I stumbled across a discussion on the Cruise Critic site where just 2 months ago passengers from the Celebrity Eclipse were accousted by a man ashore with a knife which sparked a discussion about crime in St, Lucia. Meanwhile the cruise line and the PR people on the island are saying that such crime is rare. Read our article Liar, Liar Pants On Fire? St. Lucia Tourism Denies Prior Armed Robbery of Cruise Passengers.
Photo Credit: DBS TV St. Lucia via the Times
Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jonathan Schilling