U.S. State Department Publishes 2017 Bahamas Crime & Safety Report

BahamasThe U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) recently published its 2017 Crime & Safety Report regarding the Bahamas.

The council, which was established under authority of the U.S. Secretary of State, reached the following findings and conclusions:

Findings:

  • The Bahamas is a major Caribbean tourist destination with major cruise ship ports of calls in Nassau and Freeport. 
  • Over six million U.S. citizens visit the Bahamas each year.
  • Approximately 80% of tourists to the Bahamas are U.S. citizens.
  • The Bahamas consists of more than 700 islands and cays.
  • The Bahamas has a population of approximately 370,000.
  • 70% of Bahamians (around 260,000) reside on the island of New Providence, where Nassau is situated.
  • Another 15% (around 60,000) live on Grand Bahama, where Freeport is located.
  • The rest of the population is dispersed over several dozen outer islands (commonly referred to as the “Family Islands”).

Conclusions - Crime Threats:

  • Crime in Nassau is critical.
  • Violent crime reportedly dropped from 2015 to 2016 by double digit percentages in every category, although some observers have questioned the legitimacy of this claim.
  • Murders were down 24% from a record high in 2015 (111 in 2016 vs. 146 in 2015).
  • Despite the publicized numbers, crime continues to represent the primary security threat in the Bahamas.
  • The preponderance of reported violent crimes were perpetrated against local Bahamians and mostly occurred in areas of saturated criminality not typically visited by tourists.
  • However, New Providence has witnessed violent crimes in locations more commonly frequented by U.S. citizen tourists. In some instances, these incidents resulted in fatalities.
  • Criminality and violent crime has increased on Grand Bahama island, notably crimes involving the use of machetes.
  • Many criminals carry firearms, machetes, or knives, and these weapons are commonly brandished.
  • There were reports of firearms used in the commission of armed robberies, where the assailant assaulted the victim after the victim resisted.
  • Many armed robberies involved snatch-and-grabs involving purses, jewelry, cell phones, and cash.
  • Armed robberies, property crimes, purse snatchings, theft, fraud, and sexual assaults remain the most common crimes perpetrated against tourists.
  • In 2016, numerous incidents were reported that either involved tourists or occurred in well-known tourist locations.
  • Crimes occurred near popular tourist areas adjacent to the cruise ship port (Prince George Wharf) and the Cable Beach resort areas as well as the popular downtown area.
  • Several armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas.
  • The water sports rental industry is only loosely regulated, and in 2015, there were reported sexual assaults of U.S. citizens, including minors, by jet-ski operators.
  • The majority of these sexual assaults were reported to have occurred on relatively “safe” beaches within the confines of Paradise Island, which is heavily frequented by tourists . . .

We recommend to anyone traveling to the Bahamas (particularly Nassau) to also read the news accounts and editorials in the local newspapers in the Bahamas, the Tribune and the Nassau Guardian

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Photo credit: Bahamas government - Public Domain, commons / wikimedia.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Executive Concerned About Crime in Nassau

Oasis of the Seas Nassau BahamasThe Tribune newspaper in Nassau reports that during a meeting between the CEO of Royal Caribbean International brand, Michael Bayley, and Prime Minister Perry Christie, the cruise executive stated that he is “concerned” about high levels of crime in the Bahamas. 

Mr. Bayley says that he has previously communicated his concerns regarding the issue of crime affecting his Royal Caribbean customers to the Bahamian government through the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).

He claims that his cruise line's ships bring around 1,700,000 guests to the the Bahamas each year. However, if his cruise customers do not feel safe visiting the country, they will no longer vacation in the Bahamas, he says. 

Many cruise passengers to Nassau have told us over the last few years that they do not get off of the cruise ship upon arriving in the Bahamas because of crime ashore. 

Mr. Bayley says that Royal Caribbean is "committed to maintaining a concrete relationship with the country and plans to double visitor numbers over the next 10 years."  If true, this is an ambitious goal given the high crime rate in Nassau and the opening of ports in Cuba to Miami based cruise lines. 

Ironically, the Royal Caribbean CEO was meeting with the Bahamian Prime Minister about the development of the cruise line's private destination in Coco Cay, Bahamas. With the development of a large fixed pier, the priavte cay will be able to receive larger cruise ships including the Oasis-class ships which carry up to 5,400 passengers.

As reflected in the comments to the article, many people feel that numerous  islands in the Bahamas are being developed as private resorts for the cruise lines to escape the problems with crime and trash which detract from Nassau's reputation as a top cruise port. 

In a PR news release, Royal Caribbean promised to increase the number of Bahamians employed by the cruise line in the next five years. This is an issue where the cruise line has failed miserably in the past. Compared to other countries like Jamaica where there are many thousands of cooks, cleaners and cabin attendants working in Royal Caribbean ships, there are relatively few crew members from the Bahamas working for Royal Caribbean.

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

March 9, 2017 UpdateGovt Should Be Concerned At Cruise Line’s Worries.

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas in Nassau, Bahamas - Baldwin040 - CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Another Crime Warning for Travelers to Nassau, Bahamas

Bay Street Nassau Bahamas Crime WarningYesterday, the U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) issued a security message for U.S. Citizens traveling to Nassau, Bahamas), titled Staying Safe during Spring Break in the Bahamas.

It starts with: "avoid being alone with strangers, jet ski, taxi, or scooter operators. Be particularly cautious on secluded beaches; criminals target such isolated areas. When traveling, use only clearly marked buses or taxis, as unlicensed taxi drivers have been linked to a variety of violent crimes."

The warning ""strongly" recommends that travelers "avoid patronizing jet ski rental operations" who "continue to commit sexual assaults and other crimes against tourists."

It warns not to "allow yourself to be driven off alone with a scooter operator. Unlicensed scooter operators and rental services have been linked to assaults, including sexual assaults."

OSAC cautions against excessive drinking ashore - "Visitors found alone or incapacitated have been victims of sexual assault, robbery, and physical assault. Watch your drink at all times. Intoxicated young women may be targeted for drugging and sexual assault."

OSAC refers to the U.S. State Department's warning that "the criminal threat level for New Providence Island (includes Nassau and Paradise Island) is rated as critical." The critical crime warning reads:

"Armed robbery and sexual assault are major criminal threats facing U.S. citizens in New Providence. The U.S. Embassy has received multiple reports indicating tourists have been robbed at gunpoint or Nassau Bahamas Cruise Travel Warningknifepoint in tourist locations in the downtown areas of Nassau; several of these incidents occurred during daylight hours. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of sexual assaults in tourist areas as well. The Bahamas has one of the highest incidences of sexual assault in the Caribbean . . "

If you are a parent of a teenager or a college student cruising to Nassau this month on Spring Break, I suggest discussing these issues. 

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

March 6, 2107 Update: The U.S Embassy in Nassau issues another crime warning, based on the OSAC report.

Photo credit: Jpatokal at wts wikivoyage - GFDL, commons / wikimedia (top photo of Bay Street in Nassau); TampAGS, for AGS Media - CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia (bottom photo of cruise wharf in Nassau).

Arrested in the Bahamas: Cruise Passenger in Jail for Statutory Rape of 15 Year-Old Boy

Two weeks ago, the Royal Bahamian Police Force arrested a French-Canadian woman from Quebec who was on an unidentified cruise ship (cruise schedules indicate it was the Norwegian Sky) in Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas for engaging in sex with a 15-year-old boy, who cannot legally give consent to have sexual intercourse under the law of the Bahamas. 

The case involved a rather bizarre situation where the 23 year old woman met an American, 15 year old boy in what a newspaper describes as a "casino and bar area" on the cruise ship. The boy reportedly told the woman, (falsely so) that he was 18 years old. He also reportedly is over 6 feet tall and he was wearing a beard, apparently giving her the impression that he was an adult.   

The two then allegedly engaged in sex in a bathroom on the ship. The boy's mother learned of the alleged tryst and, over the protestations of her son, reported the alleged incident to the police in the Bahamas.

Section 11(1)(a) of the Bahamas' Sexual Offences Act, Chapter 99 reads: “Any person who has unlawful sexual intercourse with any person being of or above 14 years of age and under 16 years of age, whether with or without the consent of the person with whom he had unlawful sexual intercourse Bahamas Sexual assaultis guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for life.”

In the U.S., this is called "statutory rape;" it is irrelevant that the defendant was unaware that the child is underage. In Quebec, where the woman is from, 15 year olds can legally consent to sex.

The newspapers in the Bahamas have reported repeatedly on the arrest of the woman. They have published numerous photographs of the young woman in the custody of Bahamian police officers being led from the jail where she is imprisoned to the courthouse where she has attended several hearings in her criminal case. The photographs depict a obviously haggard woman, who has been kept in the harsh conditions of Her Majesty's Prison, being escorting to court by smiling police officers. 

The woman, who reportedly has three children aged 3, 4 and 5, had been given the cruise by her employer for her exemplary work performance. 

Grand Stirrup Cay is a private island in the Bahamas owned by Norwegian Cruise Line. 

The case, to me, appears to be, among other things, an indictment of the cruise line for allowing a unsupervised teenager into an area of the cruise ship limited to adults and apparently permitting him to drink alcohol. The Canadian woman's Bahamian defense lawyer was quoted in the Tribune newspaper as saying that "this defendant has a very strong defence as it may be negligence on the part of the cruiseline for allowing the virtual complainant to have access to activities reserved for adults."

I don't practice criminal law, but it seems highly relevant that the alleged victim apparently lied to the woman that he was an adult. It also seems relevant that due to the boy's height and facial hair, the woman may have reasonably believed that he was an adult, as he claimed before having sex with her. 

The Bahamas, which has the highest number of reported rapes in the Caribbean, seems to have a double standard in dealing with the issue of sexual assault. I have represented several women, both passengers and crew members, who have been sexually assaulted by crew members on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships in Bahamian waters where the police showed little interest in arresting the perpetrators or where the Bahamian prosecutors quickly dropped the charges.  

The Bahamas also has a deplorable case of prosecuting cases where children are sexually assaulted by crew members on Bahamian-Flagged ships, such as this case where a Disney crew member sexually assaulted a young girl on the Disney Dream. The police in Nassau dropped the case and permitted the cruise line pedophile to leave the jurisdiction. 

The Bahamas' interest in pursuing the case may also be, in part, political pay-back for Canada's prior warnings against travel to the Bahamas' due to its high violent crime rate.  

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January 20, 2017 Update: The family of the arrested woman, who is raising money for her legal defense via a Go-Fund-Me type of page, is denying that she ever left the casino/bar alone or that she engaged in sexual relations with the boy. 

February 3, 2017 UpdateBahamian police escorted Ms. Gagné back to Court again today where she learned that she will remain in jail. The French-Canadian newspaper Le Nouvelliste says (interpreted) that the defendant should learn later this month whether she will be released on bond and permitted to return to Canada pending the prosecution of the case pending against her.

March 23, 2017 Update: The Bahamas reportedly will abandon pursuing the charges of sexual assault against Ms. Gagné, according to a newspaper in Canada.

Photo credit:  Tribune

Disney to Develop Egg Island in the Bahamas?

Earlier this week, I received information that Disney Cruises is apparently moving ahead with preliminary plans to build a cruise ship pier on an island in north Eleuthera in the Bahamas, called Egg Island.

Disney already has one private cay in the Bahamas where it unloads thousands of cruise tourists (photo bottom).  

A poster to the Disney Vacation Club reportedly observed and spoke to surveyors were on the Bahamian island who told him they were working for Disney. A contractor has also apparently been Egg Island Bahamasdrilling core samples around the island, presumably to evaluate the foundation for structures Disney may build (photo right).

Some of the information which I received suggests that Egg Island's natural beauty and ecology will be destroyed if Disney proceeds with its plans to develop the island. "Egg Island boasts several ecosystems including mangroves, coral reefs, (and) salt ponds . . . Egg island is known for having a sustainable grouper spawning aggregation, of which there are few left in the Bahamas. The endangered sea turtles are well known to nest on egg island beach, endangered shore birds nest there and the juvenile conch are maturing in safety."

The waste of thousands of cruise tourists can't be accomodated on the little island, as explained by a local Bahamian newspaper.

The Miami Herald recently published an article titled Disney Plan to Develop Unspoiled Bahamian Island Draws Fire which confirmed "that the government issued a temporary license for exploratory work to (the) Disney contractor."

There is an online change.org petition titled Save Egg Island (Bahamas)! Stop Disney Cruise Line! Preserve Egg Island! #saveeggisland.  

I have visited nearby Spanish Wells a number of times in the 1980's. I still remember the beautiful reefs and untouched beaches there.  It would be a shame to see another natural island in the Castaway Cay BahamasCaribbean to be dredged and filled to make way for another cruise development.

The Tribune newspaper confirmed that "preliminary talks" have taken place between Disney and local Bahamian representatives. Prime Minister Perry Christie claims that impact assessment studies must first be considered before any plans are approved.  But one needs to look no further than prior projects permitted by Bahamian politicians to be skeptical.

Bimini sustained considerable environmental damage brought about by dredge and fill operations associated with the Resorts World and Bimini SuperFast projects.  Environmental damage, dislocation of native wildlife and reef destruction brought about by cruise development is often an afterthought to the Bahamian politicians and cruise line executives if there is money to be made.   

There is a Save Egg Island Facebook page trying to raise awareness of what has been, to date, largely secret development plans by Disney regarding the pristine Egg Island.  

Photo Credit:  Save Egg Island Facebook page

Video credit: Watch video of Egg Island  - Via Tre' Russell

July 22 2016 Update:  According to the Disney Cruise Line Blog, "Egg Island appears to saved. Multiple newspaper reports from the Bahamas confirm that Disney Cruise Line will no longer consider developing Egg Island, Eleuthera into a cruise port due to the initial test results. Kim Prunty, a spokesperson for DCL confirmed to The Tribune that environmental impact assessments and geo-technical studies carried out by the company have indicated that the quitting island’s marine and environmental profile could not survive a development on that level." 

The Nassau Guardian states that Disney is not developing the island after conducting an environmental assessment, 

The Miami Herald published Disney Backs Off Cruise Port on Pristine Bahamas Island.

U.S. Embassy Issues Warning About Crime in Nassau

Today, the United States embassy in Nassau issues a "Personal Security Awareness" security message about the crime problem in Nassau. The message says: 

"This message is to remind U.S. Citizens resident and visiting New Providence Island (Nassau) and Paradise Island to be mindful of their surroundings at all times and employ practical personal security awareness when in public and at home to avoid being a victim of crime.

Over the course of the past six months, the U.S. Embassy has received reports of a significant Nassau Bahamas Crimeincrease in armed robberies throughout New Providence, specifically targeting patrons of ATM machines, parking venues at various retail locations, and armed car-jackings.

For your safety, you should:

• Avoid using ATM machines located in isolated areas and consider using ATM machines located in shopping centers that have security coverage. Use the buddy system when using ATM machines.

• Keep your car doors locked and your windows rolled up as you drive. Keep valuables out of sight in your vehicles when parked (cell phones, laptops, cash, GPS or other valuables).

Armed robberies and violent crimes continue to be the primary criminal threat in The Bahamas – which in many instances have occurred in areas frequented by tourists."

There have been over a dozen crime warnings from the U.S. about Nassau, Bahamas in the last several years, from the U.S. embassy in Nassau and the U.S. State Department. The last warning was released just two months ago - Crime in Bahamas Remains Critical. In January of this year, the U.S. embassy in Nassau reported that jet ski operators sexually assaulted 5 U.S. tourists in just 18 months.

When I first started this blog in 2009, several of the first articles were about the armed robbery of cruise ship passengers in Nassau. In October 2009, the Tribune newspaper in Nassau reported that two "vicious robbers" held a group of 11 terrified cruise tourists at gunpoint and robbed them of cash and their possessions at the Queen's Staircase on a Sunday afternoon.  A month later, gunmen armed with a shotgun robbed and terrorized 18 Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise passengers on a Segway Tour. 

None of the gunmen were ever arrested. A cruise passengers said that the Bahamian police falsely told her after she was robbed that "this never happens here. Never." It seems that it has been downhill in Nassau ever since. 

Nassau has received, by far, the most critical crime warnings of any port in the Caribbean. Nassau has an ineffective police force and a broken legal system.  It is the one port which I say avoid at all costs.

July 13 2016 Update:  Is the Bahamas travel advisory a tit-for-a-tat for prior U.S. travel warnings? Is this U.S. security message retaliation for the travel advisory issued by the Bahamas?  Read:  Bahamas Wrong To Issue Travel Advisory To Black Men and U.S. Hits Back With Security Message To Citizens And Visitors In The Bahamas.

July 14 2016 Update: National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage insists that the U.S. embassy is “wrong” and the assertions made in their latest crime advisory regarding the Bahamas are “not true. Unfortunately, we have seen these type of denials by the authorities in Nassau as long as we have had this blog. Meanwhile, the Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis says Prime Minister Perry Christie and his administration have ignored the reality of crime. Dr Minnis says it is “frightening” for Bahamians to see the government continuously dismiss the crime warnings.

Photo Credit:  242 Breaking News 

Backatcha' - Bahamas Warns Travelers of Police in the U.S.

Shooting of Philando CastileIn what many believe to be a political game of backatcha', the Bahamas on Friday issued a warning to its citizens planning to travel to the United States about the danger of interacting with police officers:

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken a note of the recent tensions in some American cities over shootings of young black males by policemen. We wish to advise all Bahamians traveling to the US, but especially to the affected cities, to exercise appropriate caution generally. In particular young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police." You can read the entire advisory here.

The travel warning from the Bahamas comes after a week of protests in the U.S after three white police officers shot two black men in separate incidents a total of 11 times and killed them.

On Tuesday, two policemen shot 37-year-old Alton Sterling (left) six times in a parking lot of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On Wednesday, a policeman fatally shot 32-year-old Philando Castile (right) five times after a traffic stop of a car which he was driving with his girlfriend and her four year old daughter inside. The police did not attempt to administer first aid to either of the dying men. After Mr. Philando Castile Alton SterlingCastile was shot, the police arrested his girlfriend in front of her child who also witnessed the shooting and then was separated from her mother at the police station.

The governor of Minnesota commented that he was "appalled" by the shooting of Mr. Castile and the mistreatment of his girlfriend and said that police wouldn't have shot and killed Philando Castile if he'd been white. 

President Obama put matters into perspective, that blacks are more like to be stopped, searched, arrested and imprisoned than whites. He commented: "black drivers are more likely to be pulled over for traffic stops. After being pulled over, blacks and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched. Last year African Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites."

Here in the U.S., we have witnessed far too many black men whose lives ended prematurely by overzealous and poorly trained police officers. The images of Eric Gardner, who was choked by an officer and was then tackled by four other policemen, are impossible to watch and then are even more impossible to forget.  Mr. Gardner was restrained face down on the sidewalk gasping "I can't breath" eleven times before he became unconscious and later died. The police officers and later, the EMT's, didn't bother to perform CPR on this dying man either. 

Americans here in the U.S. are familiar with the names Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, and Sandra Brown who all died during or after confrontations with the police. Each injustice seems to blend with the next in a seemingly endless video loop that shocks the nation's conscience.    

Yes, these deaths raise disturbing questions about race relations in the U.S. To me, it seems that the vestiges of racism are alive and well in the U.S.  The nation will soon face the specter of probable acquittals if there is a decision to prosecute the three police officers involved in the most recent shootings. U.S. history tells us that often the murderers of blacks will be found innocent of criminal charges. I have written before that "history shows that instances of racial violence are usually followed by injustice in the legal system." Sadly, these tragedies may end with additional violent riots that will inevitably follow if the the officers are acquitted.

Of course, none of this heartbreak and injustice has anything to do with travelers from the Bahamas who live in their own world of crime and violence. As I have mentioned many times, the Bahamas has an extremely high murder rate.  With a total population last year of around 388,000, the country experienced 149 murders which resulted in a per capita murder rate of around 38 per 100,000 residents (compared to the national U.S. per capita murder rate of only 4.5 per 100,000).  This is the murder rate of the country. If what many consider to be generally safe locations like the Family Islands outside of New Providence are excluded, Nassau is as unsafe as the U.S.'s most dangerous cities like St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, and New Orleans.  

The murders in the Bahamas rival the gruesome details of the U.S. shooting I mentioned above. The case of Edgar Dart, a traveler from Britain via Canada, who was bound and killed by three robbers when they broke into his mother's home armed with a gun and a machete, remains unsolved. The family was tied up with duct tape during the raid and Mr. Dart was killed after bleeding to death in front of his son, as well as in front of his brother, sister-in-law, and young nephew. 

Crimes against U.S., Canadian or British citizens in the Bahamas are rarely solved. Within the last two Garu Vanhoeckyears, the murders of American student Mason Hart, British diving instructor Gary Vanhoeck (left), and retired Canadian doctor Geoffrey Harding have not been solved. There are no arrests following assaults, robberies, thefts and muggings of Americans.

The U.S. State Department stated in one of the dozen warnings dating back over the last couple of years: "The U.S. Embassy has received multiple reports of tourists robbed at gunpoint or knifepoint in tourist locations in the downtown areas of Nassau, to include the cruise ship docks and the Cable Beach commerce areas; several of these incidents occurred during daylight hours. Burglaries, larcenies and “snatch-and-grab” crimes happen in Nassau and U.S. citizens have been victims of these crimes. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships."   

The Bahamas also has an incredibly high per capita rape rate. The Bahamas' rate of rape is 113 out of 100,000. In the USA it is around 28 per 100,000.  

Slate's Mike Pesca was precisely on point when he wrote today in an article The Bahamas Is Warning Its Citizens About the Dangers of the United States - The Truth is Bahamians are Safer Abroad than at Home: "Of course, the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are just the latest horrific incidents in what has become a blight on America. But the Bahamian government’s warning should not be interpreted as another data point in America’s shame so much as a statistical misinterpretation of actual danger. In fact, on average, a Bahamian who leaves his country to travel to the United States would decrease his chances of being murdered."

My thought is that Bahamians should be aware of the history of violence against blacks here in the U.S., to the extent that they are not aware of this reality with the non-stop international coverage provided by cable news.  But this warning seems designed to serve other purposes.  Many Bahamians, particular merchants concerned that repeated U.S. warnings about crime in Nassau is bad for the cruise business in Nassau, dislike the fact that the Bahamas is repeatedly the subject of U.S. State Department's "critical crime" warnings. One Bahamian reader commenting on the Bahamian warning told the Tribune newspaper in Nassau: "No I'm not saying that there's not a real danger for black Bahamians in the US, I'm saying I don't think the primary motivation for this advisory was to protect Bahamians. This was 'stick it to the US' policy."   

Other Bahamians who left comments on the Slate article singled out Bahamian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Minister Fred Mitchel, as having "a major chip on his shoulder about race issues and is very anti-USA" and "is hoping by 'sticking it to the man', as it were, he'll take some of the pressure off his government's total failure to address the crime problem."

The purpose of a governmental warning is to educate citizens about matters that they might not know about. I doubt that any Bahamians flying to the U.S. are unaware of the protests filling the cable news broadcasts about the killing of black men (and the murder of five white policemen in Dallas by a black man with a AR-15 which the Bahamian warning does not mention). However, first time cruisers to Nassau, filled with dreams that it is "better in the Bahamas," may think they are taking their family to a safe tropical island. They might not realize that they are traveling to an island where they are eight times more likely to be murdered than in the U.S.   

Update July 11 2016: Opposing Views addresses the issue: Bahamas Travel Advisory Is Just Tit For Tat.

Update July 12 2016 Update: According to the Tribune newspaper, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau released a new travel warning message "urging its citizens and US visitors in Nassau and Paradise Island to exercise heightened personal security awareness, pointing out that armed robberies and violent crime remain primary criminal threats."

More Fall-Out or No Fall-Out, Depending Who You Ask:  Mitchell: No Fallout From The Us Over Ministry's Travel Advisory

Photo Credit:  Shooting of Philando Castile - CNN 

Alton Sterling (left) and Philando Castile (right) - Twitter via Observer.

Gary Vanhoeck - BBC

Shake-Down Port: Nassau's Tourism Police Arrest U.S. Cruise Passenger for Pot

The Bahamas Weekly reported that two U.S. cruise passengers were arrested at the port in Nassau for possession of marijuana on Wednesday.

The Bahamian newspaper reported: 

"Two adult American females from North Carolina are in custody after they was arrested for possession of dangerous drugs on Wednesday 22nd June 2016.

According to reports, shortly after 10:00am, officers from the Tourism Policing Unit acting on intelligence went to a cruise ship moored at Prince George Wharf, where they found the suspects in possession of a quantity of marijuana. The female suspects were taken into custody and are expected Nassau Bahamasto appear in court sometime today to be formally charged." 

I suppose that there are readers saying these two women got what they deserved, but being busted for a few marijuana joints meant for your personal consumption is no different than having a few drinks of booze that the cruise lines will be pleased to sell you with a little umbrella on top.  I suppose that's the difference, that the cruise lines frown on pot consumption because they can't make any money on it.  Cruise line make literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year selling cruise booze. 

You can get hammered on the cruise ships and the cruise lines look the other way. You can come back from Senor Frog's in Nassau knee-walking-drunk and the security guards will let you on the ship with a smirk. But a tote of the evil weed on your balcony and your cruise neighbors complain will result in the security officer placing a call to their friends in the Bahamas resulting in the "tourism police" in Nassau arresting you in your cabin.  

We have written about this scam many times but the game is always he same - this crime-ridden, poverty stricken little island looks at U.S. cruise passengers as easy targets. Nassau "tourism police" will be more than pleased to haul you from the It's-better-In-the-Bahamas cruise before a Bahamian magistrate who will shake you down for a few thousand U.S. dollars or a threat of 30 days in jail.  

If you are unfortunate to get caught smoking a joint here in Miami, few cops will take the time to arrest you but, worst case scenario, you may pay a small fine or enter into a diversion program. But in Nassau, you will get harassed to buy pot or coke the second you walk down the gangway and if you have a few grams of pot back in the cruise ship's cabin safe, you are still screwed. It's all about how many U.S. dollars that the Bahamian "justice'" department, overwhelmed by violent crime, can keep in its pockets from U.S. cruise passengers foolish enough to cruise there. 

Interested in the issue? Read: The Predatory "Sweet Spot" - Bahamian Tourism Police Arrest U.S. Cruise Tourist for Pot PossessionHigh Times in Nassau Will Cost You $500 or 2 Months in Her Majesty's PrisonReefer Madness: Bahamas Magistrate Taunts & Shakes Down Royal Caribbean Potheads

Photo Credit: TampAGS, for AGS Media - CC BY-SA 3.0.  

Canada Issues Another Crime Advisory for the Bahamas

Canada has issued another travel advisory, warning that travelers to the Bahamas "should exercise a high degree of caution (due to) high rates of crime, especially in Nassau."

The Canadian government said that "crime occurs mainly in Nassau and Freeport. There has been an increase in armed robberies targeting tourists in Nassau. Incidents take place in populated and isolated areas, and even in daylight hours. Do not carry large sums of cash or wear expensive jewelery. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure Canasa Warning about Crime in the Bahamasat ail times. If you are threatened by robbers, stay calm and do not resist. Home invasions are also of concern in Nassau."

The government also warned that "sexual assaults are on the rise in Nassau." Canada specifically warned that "there have been reports of jet-ski operators assaulting their clients in New Providence and Paradise Islands".

Two months ago the Nassau Guardian reported that a Bahamian taxi cab driver was arrested on charges that he raped a US woman visiting Nassau. 

Nassau's Tribune newspaper published an article in September 2014 about the last Canadian crime warning for the Bahamas. The US government, through the State Department and the US Embassy, has issued numerous warnings about crime in Nassau affecting cruise passengers and tourists.

We have written frequently about the high incidents of murder and armed robbery in Nassau (New Providence). Last year, the country experienced a record number of murders. The murder rate in the Bahamas is far more than 30 per 100,00, compared to the U,S, per capita rate or around 4.5 per 100,000.

We have also written about Canadians residents and citizens becoming victims of horrific violent crimes in the Bahamas. You can read a few of our articles here and here.

Many cruise passengers chose to decide to stay on their cruise ships while in the port of Nassau.

June 9, 2016 Update:  The Nassau Tribune covered the Canadian travel advisory.  The Bahama Journal quoted the leader of the opposition party, Dr. Hubert Minnis, saying:

"“Record high murder rates, and countless stories of the latest violent crime dominating the front page of our papers have had a chilling effect on the entire country and it continues to bleed out beyond our islands. As horrific as the crime rate has become, what’s more astounding is the lack of action from the Government.” 

Photo credit: Tribune newspaper

Cruise Ship Passengers Beware: Don't Go to Princess Margaret Hospital in Nassau

Hospitals NassauA U.S. citizen was reportedly the victim of medical malpractice at a large public hospital (Princess Margaret) in Nassau, Bahamas and is now telling the world about his ordeal.

As explained in a local Fox News station and in a gofundme page, Jake Tyler (Beiersdorf), a young man from Minnesota, traveled to Nassau in January of this year to work at an annual poker tournament. After he experienced severe pain in his right lower flank, he was taken to Princess Margaret Hospital where he reportedly faced a medical nightmare. Here is what the online information contends happened:

Jake "waited 14 hours until they finally decided that he had a ruptured appendix and needed surgery. They opened him up down the center of his abdomen from his breastbone to the top of his groin. Following the surgery they thought it was best to leave him unstitched . . . for the next 4 (yes, FOUR) days. That Monday they finally gave him just 13 loosely sewn, superficial epidermal stitches (with several open gaps remaining and where at least 35-45 staples were required), and zero inner stitches reattaching the fascia (muscle and fat layer) within- which helps keep ones 'insides" from basically falling out."  

After this ill-conceived surgery, Jake was reportedly sent to a "(filthy) communal room" with many other patients where his friend reportedly came to see him and witnessed "unbelievable unsanitary surroundings. It was just plain gross . . ."

His friend obtained his eventual discharge but had to return him to Princess Margaret for a final checkup and determination whether he was fit to fly back to the U.S. His checkup was held in what is described as an "unsanitary storage closet with random items strewn everywhere."

Once back in the U.S., he underwent emergency surgery where it was discovered that the surgeons in the Bahamas did not stitch the muscle layer beneath his skin and did not even remove his appendix (which had not ruptured as they claimed).

If you are an ill or injured cruise passenger (like in a moped accident or taken from a cruise ship) in Nassau, you do not want anyone to take you to the Princess Margaret hospital!  We have heard complaints from many cruise passengers over the years who have ended up there. There is a saying in the Bahamas that Princess Margaret hospital is "the reason local Bahamians pray not to get sick."   

It is better to use travel insurance and get back to the U.S. As a last resort, be prepared to pull out your credit card and be admitted to a private hospital (like Doctors Hospital) in Nassau which may be inferior to U.S. standards but is a definite step above what you will experience at Princess Margaret.  

March 9, 2016 Update: The Nassau Guardian published an article today about this story, stating that the Public Hospitals Authority and the Princess Margaret Hospital will be investigating the allegations. 

March 10, 2016 Upgrade: The public hospital denied everything today, except admitting that Mr. Beiersdorf was not seen for an extraordinary period of time according to the Nassau Guardian. A well known local Bahamian surgeon not involved in the medical case claims: " . . .  very scurious allegations defame the professional integrity of an entire institution, a number of medical professionals and a country as a whole." My thoughts?  Denial and misplaced patriotism.  

 

Video: Article and video Fox9  

Map credit:  Google

Crime in Bahamas Remains Critical

Crime in the Bahamas remains critical, according to an annual report published by the U.S. Department of State.  

The U.S. report comes at a time when the Bahamas continues with a high murder rate.  The report says that "2015 was the most deadly year in Bahamian history."  Today the Nassau Guardian reports in an article titled "Two Die in Shootings" that two Bahamians were shot and killed in New Providence.

According to the U.S. report, the Bahamas has not released public comprehensive updated national crime statistics since July 2013. However, the murder rate in the Bahamas increased by 22 percent in Nassau Bahamas 2015. Police recorded 149 murders in 2015, up from 122 in 2014. (The Nassau Guardian reports there was a fewer number, 146, murders last year). 

With a population of a little over 400,000, the Bahamas has an extraordinary high murder rate of around 37 per 100,000. Considering that most of the murders are in Nassau (New Providence) the murder rate is even higher if the family islands are excluded. The murder rate in the U.S. is only around 4.5 per 100,000.    

The report concludes that "the preponderance of violent crimes reported were perpetrated against local Bahamians, and these occurred in areas of saturated criminality and not typically frequented by tourists." However, the report quickly adds that "despite strenuous anti-crime incentives sanctioned by the government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas during the past year, New Providence witnessed a substantial increase of violent armed crimes in locations that are also heavily frequented by U.S. citizen tourists. In many instances, these incidents resulted in fatalities. Armed robberies, property theft, purse snatchings, general theft of personal property, and sexual assaults remain the most common crimes perpetrated against tourists."

The report continues: "In 2015, several incidents were reported that either involved tourists or occurred in well-known tourist locations. Specifically, crimes were reported near popular tourist areas close to the cruise ship port (Prince George Wharf) and the Cable Beach resort areas. While there is no indication that U.S. citizens have been targeted directly, criminals have become more brazen and creative in their methods. For example, several armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas. Armed assailants have placed random items in the street as impromptu roadblocks so unassuming drivers would stop and could be robbed. In separate instances, four Embassy employees were victims of a robbery."    

"The U.S. Embassy has received an increase of reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, at residences, hotel rooms, casinos, outside hotels, and on cruise ships. In some sexual assault incidents, the victim had reportedly been drugged. The Embassy issued five separate Security Messages for U.S. Citizens in 2015 (Spike in Crime, Recent Armed Robberies, Credit Card/ATM Fraud, Jet ski Sexual Assaults, and Crime during the Holiday Season). Police recently warned women to be extra vigilant after a recent spike in the number of reported sexual assaults in Nassau. The water sports rental industry is only loosely regulated; and in 2015, there were reported sexual assaults of U.S. citizens, including minors, by jet-ski operators. The majority of these sexual assaults were reported to have occurred on relatively “safe” beaches within the confines of Paradise Island and heavily frequented by tourists and Embassy personnel. As a result of this trend, on January 6, 2016, Embassy Nassau put the use of jet-skis operated by local nationals in New Providence off-limits to all Chief of Mission personnel/agencies domiciled in The Bahamas."

The U.S. State Department report touches upon the fact that there have been sexual assaults on American tourists by jet ski operators in Nassau. The U.S. Embassy in Nassau reported that jet ski operators sexually assaulted 5 U.S. tourists in just 18 months.

Last month we pointed out that in 2005, according to the National Task Force for Gender Based Violence, Bahamas had the worst record for rapes in the Caribbean. The report stated that "while the worldwide average for rape is 15 per 100,000, The Bahamas has an average of 133 (per 100,000)." The rate in the U.S. Is somewhere around 28.6 per 100,000. There are almost 5 times as many rapes in the Bahamas as in the U.S. per capita.

We previously named Nassau as the most dangerous cruise destination in the world in 2004. As the report indicates, things have gotten worse in Nassau since then. Most of the cruise line do not warn passengers before they buy a cruise which includes Nassau, but they warn the passengers with shipboard publications before reaching Nassau. Many frequent cruisers decide to stay on the cruise ship.

Photo Credit: By TampAGS, for AGS Media - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia 

Bahamas Has Worst Record for Rapes in Caribbean

The Tribune newspaper in Nassau reports that the Bahamas leads the Caribbean in the number of recorded rapes, according to a report by the National Task Force for Gender Based Violence.

The Tribune says that "over a 10-year period, from 2003 to 2013, there were 1,109 reported rapes, according to police statistics. In addition, from 2008 to 2012, annual police reports documented 9,045 incidents where females were the victims of assault in the country. These reports also alluded to there being numerous cases of domestic violence of a non-sexual nature."

Rapes in the Bahamas increased in 2015 when compared to 2014.

The report stated that “the Bahamas has the highest incidence of rape per capita in the Caribbean. The UN Woman narrative on gender-based violence in the Caribbean cites ‘while the worldwide average for rape was 15 per 100,000, The Bahamas has an average of 133 (per 100,000)."

The rate in the U.S. Is somewhere around 28.6 per 100,000. There are almost 5 times as many rapes in the Bahamas as in the U.S. per capita. 

The Bahamas also had a record number of murders last year, which were primarily in Nassau (New Providence). The murder rate in the Bahamas is far more than 30 per 100,00, compared to the U,S, per capita rate or around 4.5 per 100,000

These statistics are something to keep in mind during your next cruise to Nassau. 

Bahamian Police Arrest U.S. Cruise Passenger for Rape

The Tribune newspaper reports that the Royal Bahamas Police Department arrested a U.S. passenger from Missouri over the weekend for allegedly raping another passenger on an unidentified cruise ship.

The Bahamian police is holding the U,S, citizen for "indecent assault" of the cruise passenger of a female on Saturday morning.

The newspaper says that "shortly after 9am a female visitor on a cruise ship moored at Prince George Wharf reported to police that she was indecently assaulted on board by the suspect, who is also a Nassau Bahamaspassenger on the ship." 

We have seen cruise ship sexual assault cases prosecuted in Bahamian courts before, but we have never seen a Bahamian jury convict anyone for sexually assaulting a woman at sea before. Sexual assaults, in our view, should always be reported by the cruise line to the FBI or the police departments of the U.S. port where the cruise ship is home ported. The FBI / DOJ and Florida prosecutors have jurisdiction to prosecute U.S. citizens on cruise ships even thought the crimes occur on the high seas or the territorial waters of a foreign country.  

The Bahamanian newspapers often do nor identify the name of the cruise ship or cruise line to avoid embarrassing them.  Many cruise lines are flagged in Nassau to avoid U.S. taxes and regulations. 

Photo Credit: "Prince George Wharf in Nassau Harbor" by TampAGS, for AGS Media - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons / Wikipedia

U.S. Embassy in Nassau: Jet Ski Operators Sexually Assaulted 5 Tourists in 18 Months

The AP reports that the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas yesterday has singled out operators of jet skis following the latest sexual assault of a U.S. citizen by a man on a jet ski on Cabbage Beach. We reported that the police in Nassau arrested a Bahamian on January 2nd following the rape.

According to the AP account, the embassy reported there had been five sexual assaults of U.S. citizens by jet-ski operators in Nassau since July. The actual warning refers to July of 2014.  In addition, the embassy "banned its staff from using jet-ski rental companies because of insufficient regulation. It recommended U.S. citizens not use them either."  The recommended ban applies to Cabbage Beach and Miami Cruise Ship Crime - NassauCable Beach.

You can read the warning from the embassy here.

In 2014, the New York Times published an article about the high crime rate in Nassau, in general, and watercraft operators there in particular after the embassy issued a similar crime warning last year. The Times interviewed me in the article, after jet ski operators sexually assaulted at least three American tourists. The embassy warned of "increasingly brazen" crimes sweeping the Bahamas. 

The article said that the prime minister convened a special national security meeting last year after allegedly devising "several crime-fighting strategies." The Bahamas never disclosed these so-called new strategies to the public. The long-standing problem with rogues associated with jet ski operators assaulting tourists seems to have continued until today. Many in the Bahamas are critical of Prime Minister Cristie who has repeatedly told the press throughout the year that his government would roll out new policies to counteract the rise in crime but such plans never materialized. 

The Tribune news paper in Nassau said yesterday that the Bahamian arrested for the alleged rape was was not a water sports operator but “just a man with a Jet Ski and a boat hanging on the beach."

The newspaper also said that Bahamian officials are discussing using police and Royal Bahamas Defence Force officers to assist her ministry in patrolling the beaches to address the problem. 

One person commenting on the article said: "This is just what our tourists come here to see, machine gun toting cops and marines on the beach fraternizing with the jet-ski operators. What a scene of tropical paradise."

The recent warning from the U.S. Embassy is one of over ten crime warnings from various government agencies about Nassau in a little over two years.

Many cruise ship passengers still don't know that when they get on a ship here in Miami heading for the Bahamas, they are heading to a country with a national crime rate many times higher than the U.S. rate. The cruise lines don't issue warnings before selling cruises to Nassau but typically warm their guests of the high crime rate there during the cruise.

U.S. Tourist Raped in Nassau: Jet Ski Operator Arrested

Paradise Beach Nassau BahamasThe Bahamian newspapers are reporting that an U.S. woman visiting Nassau over the weekend was raped by a jet ski operator on Cabbage Beach, Paradise Island around 5 P.M. on Saturday, January 2nd.

The Tribune newspaper, in an article titled Man Held After Rape Attack On US Tourist, talks about the rape. The Nassau Guardian mentions that there have been other sexual assaults allegedly committed by jet ski operators in Nassau, generally, and Cabbage Beach in particular, which have been the subject of international crime warnings.  

We reported on a prior sexual assault of a tourist reported to have occurred by a jet ski operator in Nassau on Cabbage Beach, Paradise Island less than 30 days ago.    

The U.S. Embassy previously warned about sexual assaults by jet ski operators in Nassau before.

This type of crime has been repeatedly highlighted in the last two years but is only one of many crimes which the U.S. State Department has warned are occurring to tourists who visit Nassau.

The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce was quoted in the Tribune last year:

“The Chamber remains very concerned about the levels of crime, especially the types of crime that have been reported recently, and that has to do mostly with regards to crime against the person.

We have heard increasing reports of sexual harassment of tourists. We have even heard of some cases of alleged rapes, and we are extremely concerned about the safety not only of the tourists who are coming here and naturally provide us with great stimulus to our economy through their tourism dollars, but we are equally concerned for the health and safety of Bahamians and other residents.

A new US warning about crime in the Bahamas has expressed concern over home invasions and a recent spike in reported sexual assaults, some of which it says are linked to the “loosely regulated water sports industry” on Paradise Island."

We just wrote about the out-of-control crime problem in Nassau in More Per Capita Murder than Detroit: Nassau Continues with Mayhem in 2016.

The Tribune just published ‘Mind Blowing’ Crime Concern For Tourism.

Photo Credit: "Nassau, The Bahamas" by NASA Astronauts licensed under Public Domain via Commons - Wikipedia

More Per Capita Murder than Detroit: Nassau Continues with Mayhem in 2016

The Tribune newspaper in Nassau, a newspaper anyone thinking of cruising into the Bahamas with your family should read, blasts the following headline today: Four In Hospital After New Year Shootings.

The Bahamas reached a record murder rate in 2015 of 148 homicides, reported by the Tribune. Putting this murder rate into perspective, the U.S. murder rate is around 4.5 per 100,000 people. The Bahamas, with around 330,000 people, has a per capita murder rate of approximately 44.4 per 100,000, That's right, the Bahamas has a per capita rate of approximately 10 times that of the U.S. The Bahamian country's per capita murder rate places it among the most violent and dangerous cities in the U.S., a little higher than Detroit (43.5 per 100,000) and New Orleans (39.6 per 100,000).  

Now, defenders of the Bahamas will argue that the Bahamas consists of almost 700 islands; most of Nassau Bahamasthem have not experienced a single murder in a long time. They are right, most of the murders have been in New Providence (Nassau). But this actually makes the per capita murder rate significantly higher in Nassau, where the majority of cruise ship passenger are unloaded, when you calculate the Nassau per capita murder rate based on its population of around 250,000. 

When I started this blog in 2009, there were two incidents in Nassau (which you can read about here and here) where two groups of cruise passengers from Disney and Royal Caribbean ships were robbed at gunpoint. The first group were visiting a popular tourist spot on a Sunday (Queen's Stairway in downtown Nassau) and the other group were on an official cruise line "Segway excursion."  I mention these facts now because many people in Nassau will try to convince you that only drunk cruise passengers "looking for trouble" (i.e., looking for drugs or prostitutes or those who wander "over the hill") are at risk for being a victims of crime. Given the lackadaisical response by the Bahamas police to these violent crimes and the fact that cruise ships were not even warning of the crime problem back then, I have written about this issue repeatedly. 

Enough passengers have been robbed or raped in Nassau for the U.S Embassy, the U.S. State Department, the U.K. and Canadian Foreign Affairs Offices to issue 10 crime warnings in less than 2 years. 

Travel Weekly just featured an interview with Joy Jibrilu, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, of the Bahamas. I was stuck with just how out of touch she sounds with the reality of the crime around her that threatens to scare knowledgeable vacationers away from considering Nassau as a vacation place. Compare her interview with the frank talk of Adrian Gibson who wrote an opinion piece for the Tribune a couple days ago titled A Young Man's View: The Matters That Must Be Resolved In 2016. Among other issues, he points out that arrivals by cruise ship are falling and and "crime is out of control."  

Cuba will soon provide a much safer and many say a far more interesting port than downtown Nassau. However, in the cruelest of ironies, Ms Jebrilu mentions that many "Americans and Europeans will be thinking about where they’re going to take their vacations." She adds that "where they may have gone to North Africa, even to places in Europe or Turkey, I think they’re going to think twice and wonder if they should stay closer to home (because of international terrorism) . . . we have proven to be a very safe destination."

I suggest that Ms. Jibrilu walk over to the Prince George Wharf when all of the cruise ships from Miami and Fort Lauderdale are crowded into port and interview the tourists who decide to stay on the ships rather than tour Nassau. I think she will quickly find out that whereas ISIS may be the last thing on their minds, many U.S. passengers will tell her that they are keeping their families on the ships because of fear that they will have a gun pointed in their faces if they walk down the gangway.  

Photo Credit: TampAGS, for AGS Media Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Creative Commons / Wikipedia

Jet Ski Operator Sexually Assaults Tourist in Nassau, Bahamas

A Bahamian newspaper reports that the police department in Nassau, Bahamas arrested a jet ski operator this past weekend after he allegedly sexually assaulted a female visitor.

The Tribune newspaper says that the alleged sexual assault happened on Friday off Cabbage Beach near Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas.

The woman reported topolice officers that around 3 P.M. she was Nassau Bahamassexually assaulted by a man on a jet ski.

Last week, we reported on the 10th crime warning issued for Nassau by the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. State Department in less than 2 years. There is simply no more dangerous place to go on a cruise vacation than Nassau. 

We have discussed the danger of sexual assault and Bahamian jet ski operators before, as the warnings specifically mentioned the prior sexual assaults of girls on the beach by the popular Atlantis resort.

A year ago, the Tribune published an article about a U.S. tourist who said that she was sexually assaulted by jet ski operators on the beach by the Atlantis resort.

Coincidentally, the Director General of Tourism, Joy Jibrilu, recently spoke about tourism in the Bahamas. She was quoted today commenting about how to remain "on the cutting edge of the ever competitive tourism industry." She said "the Bahamas is seen as a high-end or expensive destination and stressed that customers must be given value for money."  There is nothing remotely "cutting edge" about tourism in Nassau. In truth, the cruise visitors I talk to view Nassau as a crime ridden port where they stay on the cruise ships for safety reasons.

Many Bahamian tourism and police officials are downplaying if not covering up the crime problem against tourists.

Nassau is suffering through a new record of murders this year. The crime rate in the Bahamas is well over 30 per 100,000 with the majority of the shooting deaths occurring in Nassau. The U.S., by comparison, has a murder rate of less than 5 per 100,000.

How long will Miami-based cruise ships continue to sail into this crime filled trap?

December 12 2015 Update:  This article seems to have hit a nerve in Nassau.

Photo Credit: "Prince George Wharf in Nassau Harbor" by TampAGS, for AGS Media - Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons / Wikipedia

Latest Crime Warning For Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau Bahamas crime This weekend, I received a telephone call that a 19 year old U.S. woman was robbed and assaulted in downtown Nassau on Saturday after arriving in a cruise ship and then taking a taxi from the port. She had just left a Disney cruise ship at the port in Nassau. The victim had her purse, wallet, and cell phone taken from her in the armed robbery. She reported the crime to the police in the Bahamas. The crime has not been disclosed by the Bahamian police so far

Yesterday. the U.S. Embassy in Nassau has issued a warning called a "Security Message: Holiday Season Security Awareness."

Dated December 1, 2015, the warning didn't mention the November 29th incident called into our office, but stated: "The U.S. Embassy in Nassau strongly advises U.S. citizens in The Bahamas to be aware of their surroundings and remain on heightened alert to avoid being a victim of crime. The holiday season is upon us and along with the many celebrations, there is often, unfortunately, an increase in criminal activity. During each year’s holiday season, the Embassy receives increased reports of crime, particularly  armed robberies and burglaries, such as the carjacking of U.S. citizens at Jaws Beach in western New Providence on Thursday, November 26."

The Tribune newspaper in Nassau covers the crime warning.  There have been an unprecedented ten (10) warnings of crime in by the U.S. State Department and/.or U.S. Embassy in Nassau within the last 20 months or so. You can read some of our articles here and here

We picked Nassau last year to be the most dangerous cruise destination in the world.  This year, there is a record high number of murders in Nassau.

Crime tape - Crime Will Destroy Us! bahamas B2B

December 3, 2015 Update:  A number of readers ask me why do the cruise line still sail to Nassau when it is so dangerous?  My response is cruise lines are still sailing to Nassau because of these interwoven issues; (1) it is a highly profitable port for the cruise lines to include in its itinerary (2) it is an inexpensive port for the cruise industry to travel to and is convenient to cruise ships leaving Southern Florida (3) it has a deep port and is accessible to the cruise industry's monster ships like the Oasis and Allure; (4) cruise lines have limited liability (only liability for failure to warn) when cruise passengers are victimized during excursions in dangerous ports; and (5) cruise lines are primarily motivated by financial profit and will market the cruise as calling on an "exotic" destination and in the process will down-play the dangers of armed robbery and assault.

Canadian Woman from Oasis of the Seas Missing in Nassau

Samantha LoverridgeThe Nassau Tribune published a troubling article today indicating that:  

"Police are seeking the public’s help in locating 27–year-old Canadian Samantha Loveridge, who was a passenger onboard the Oasis of the Seas that arrived in New Providence on Sunday.

Ms. Loveridge is a white female of slim build who was last seen in Nassau on Sunday when she disembarked the cruise ship at Prince George Dock."

Photo Credit:  Nassau Tribune

Contact information for the Police in the Bahamas can he obtained here.  

Update: Ms. Loveridge has been located and arrangements are being made for her to return to Canada. 

 

 

Bahamas Reaches Record Murder Rate, as Chief of Tourism Police Says "Downtown Nassau Safe For Tourists"

The Bahamas just reached 128 murders for the year, a new record for the country. By way of comparison, in 2014, there were 328 murders in New York City with a population of 8,500,000 or roughly 3.85 per 100,000 population. The Bahamas is on the way to 150 murders in 2015, which with a population of 360,000 population, is about 42 per 100,000. Most of these crime occur in Nassau (New Providence).

But you would never know it listening to the Bahamian tourism officials.

The Bahamas Weekly has an interesting article today titled "Downtown Nassau Safe For Tourists, Nassau Bahamassays Top Cop." It quotes Chief Superintendent of the Tourism Policing Unit Leamond Deleveaux saying: “The downtown area is a very safe place. You can’t get it any safer.” Mr. Deleveaux also says: 

"We don’t have any reports about crimes against tourists."

“I know of no major incidents reported to the police. I am amazed that people say there are crimes against tourists in New Providence. This is myth and not factual.”

In truth, there have been many many assaults, robberies, thefts and muggings of U.S. tourists and residents written about by the newspapers in Nassau. 

The U.S. State Department has currently placed the Bahamas under a critical crime warning and cites armed robbery as a major criminal threat facing U.S. citizens in The Bahamas. "The U.S. Embassy has received multiple reports of tourists robbed at gunpoint or knifepoint in tourist locations in the downtown areas of Nassau, to include the cruise ship docks and the Cable Beach commerce areas; several of these incidents occurred during daylight hours. Burglaries, larcenies and “snatch-and-grab” crimes happen in Nassau and U.S. citizens have been victims of these crimes. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships." 

Earlier this year, we pointed out that Nassau has been the focus of 7 crime warnings by the U.S. and Canada dating back to January 2014 with several sexual assaults on U.S. citizens, including minors, reportedly committed by jet ski operators on Paradise Island.

Mr. Deleveaux needs to be reminded of the murder of American sailor Kyle Bruner in Nassau. His murderers, who shot him just feet away from the Paradise Island Bridge in Nassau, were convicted last week.   

I last wrote about chief superintendent Deleveaux last December in my article Bloody Nassau about a particularly dangerous weekend when seven Bahamians were shot and three were killed. He claimed that tourists in Nassau are virtually immune from crime. He told the Guardian newspaper in Nassau "to be honest with you, crime against tourists are almost non-existent despite what you hear or is printed in the media."

Photo Credit: TampAGS, for AGS Media Creative Commons Wikipedia

Garbage Truck Kills Canadian Cruise Passenger in Nassau

Carnival SensationToday the Nassau Tribune reports that a garbage truck ran over and dragged a passenger who was ashore from the Carnival Sensation. The Canadian was traveling with his family. He received "serious injuries to his lower extremities and was pronounced dead on the scene.”

The truck driver told police that his brakes failed as he was entering a roundabout and he swerved to avoid oncoming traffic.

A comment to the article said:

"Vehicle Inspection here is a complete joke - just another way to collect money under false pretenses. They check neither brakes nor the condition of the tires - two things of critical importance. No need to go on."

The company operating the garbage truck was not identified.

We have reported on other casualties where trucks have killed cruise passengers while ashore or on an excursion.

I have written many articles about the numerous crimes which pose a risk to cruise passengers going ashore in Nassau.  

An updated article identifies the victims as 43–year-old Rong Gu, of New Market, Ontario. Mr. Gu was photographing the Baha Mar resort when the truck hit him on the sidewalk. 

Bahamian Buffoonery: Nassau Politicians Spat Over Carnival Cruise Crime Warnings

Crime BahamasThe Bahamian newspapers report today on a dispute which has arisen between the government of the Bahamas and the competing party, the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), over Carnival Cruise Line's apparent intention to issue crime warnings to its passengers.

A DNA official produced copies of e-mails which seem to reveal that Tourism Director Obie Wilchcombe failed to respond to repeated concerns from Carnival about the crime problem in Nassau. Mr. Wilchcombe denied receiving the emails.

The DNA official contended that Carnival was going to issue Nassau "crime warnings" this week. The Tribune newspaper says that that Mr Wilchcombe "angrily refuted Mr McCartney’s allegations" and claims that "Carnival had yesterday confirmed to him it was not intending to issue such Nassau 'advisories.’"

Both parties, to me, seem out of touch with reality. There is no question that crime in the Bahamas, including the rape and armed robbery of tourists, is a major problem for the country. Carnival's decision to warn its customers of the danger in the port is not dependent on whether the tourism officials respond to Carnivals' inquiries. I thought that this cruise line was already warning its passengers about the high crime rate in  Nassau. 

For those cruise passengers and travel agents in the know, it is common knowledge that there is an epidemic of crime in Nassau as the country heads to a record high number of murders. Many cruise passengers know that it is prudent to stay on the cruise ships when they arrive in Nassau. 

The problem remains for those tourists who are swayed by the marketing images of Carnival and the Bahamas and who cruise their families into the Nassau-war-zone with no knowledge of the considerable danger there.

Carnival owes its customers honesty. The cruise line should disclose to their guests the dangers in Nassau. The local politicians are just a sideshow. Carnival owes its passengers the same warnings that the U.S. and the U.K. and the Canadian governments have provided to their citizens.  Neither the PLP nor the DNA want to truth to be known - that Nassau represents an unreasonable danger to tourists.

Photo Credit: Caribbean 360

Like a Broken Record, U.S. Warns of Crime in Nassau

As reported in the Nassau Guardian yesterday, the United States Department of State again warned U.S. citizens about traveling to the Bahamas because of high crime.

A recent travel advisory posted on the Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) website warns visitors of an increase in armed robberies in tourist areas in New Providence (Nassau).

The reports says that “an apparent two-year rise in armed robberies in The Bahamas has spurred Cruise Law Jim Walker Nassaunumerous warnings by foreign governments to their citizens visiting the country. Given the large volume of US tourists that visit The Bahamas and recent criminal incidents in popular tourist destinations, American visitors to tourism hubs in Nassau should be cognizant of heightened criminal risks.”

I have lost track of exactly the number of warnings issued by the Unites States, whether it be from the Department of State or the U.S. Embassy in Nassau. 

I have also conveyed numerous warnings from the U.K. and Canada official governmental sites.

I have been warning cruise passengers of the dangers in Nassau since I started this blog in 2009. 

There is a major problem in Nassau with armed robbery, murder and rape.

There have been around a dozen warnings from these three countries in the last couple of years, more for any other tourist destination.  

There have been 111 murders in 2015 in the Bahamas, primarily in Nassau. The country will establish a record number of murders this year. The murders include citizens of the U.S., U.K. and Canada. 

Nassau was recently embroiled in a controversy when two Disney cruises crew members were terminated from their jobs after making a satire video of the capital city, portraying it as a dirty, smelly crime-filled port.

Nassau is one port which I recommend avoiding. Many passengers stay on the cruise ship when it gets to port out of safety concerns. 

Cruise Passengers' Rights to be Sacrificed to Aid the Bahamas?

A retired Supreme Court justice is suggesting that all Bahamas-flagged cruise ships require that passenger disputes (including claims involving personal injury) be arbitrated in the Bahamas, according to the Tribune newspaper

The Bahamian newspaper reports that former justice Rubie Nottage told a group of arbitrators yesterday that arbitrating cruise passenger disputes would generate a "significant volumes of business."

The Tribune states that "with many of the major cruise lines, such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean, Arbitration Nassau Bahamasoperating Bahamas-flagged ships, Mrs Nottage called on them to insert a clause into passenger contracts ensuring “that matters that arise on Bahamas-flagged vessels be arbitrated in the Bahamas."

Currently, cruise passengers are entitled to trials in the United States federal courts. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruise Line passengers are required (according to the cruise lines' tickets) to file suit in Miami. Princess cruise passengers are required to file suit in Los Angeles. Holland America Line passengers must file suit in Seattle. All cruise passengers are entitled to have juries decide their claims against the cruise lines.

However, if arbitration clauses are inserted into cruise line tickets, and such provisions are enforced, cruise passengers would lose their right to a jury trial in the U.S.  Passengers would also be required to travel to Nassau, incur additional expenses,and risk being a victim of crime there. The murder rate in Nassau is many times higher than in the U.S. The Tribune reports today that a former government official said there is something “drastically wrong” with the government in the Bahamas and a "spirit of fear, sparked by escalating crime, shrouds the country."

As far fetched as it may sound, the prospect of cruise passengers bring forced into arbitration and losing their right to a jury trial is possible.  The cruise lines began requiring all crew members, including U.S. crew members, to submit to foreign arbitration in the last decade. Our firm is now now prosecuting crew arbitration cases in Panama and Europe where the applicable law is that of Panama, Norway or the Marshall Islands. The cruise lines resorted to this tactic to take rights away from their crew members.

Last year, the Tribune reported that the Bahamas had “a very good chance of being the arbitration centre of choice” for thousands of crew member cases generated annually. Michael Crye, a U.S. lawyer and former Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) executive vice-president, remarked that the Bahamas’ long-standing ties to the cruise industry placed it in position to “grab a substantial amount of this opportunity.”

It is questionable that a U.S. citizen could obtain a fair hearing before a Bahamian arbitrator deciding a case involving a cruise line which registers its cruise ships in the Bahamas. In addition to the inherent conflict of interest, there is a culture of corruption in Nassau. Consider the two comments to the article in the Bahamian newspaper. One comment mentioned "we are not an impartial jurisdiction, and the corruption will prevent anyone from using Bahamians as arbitrators." The other comment said: "I would only come here and when i already bribed everyone involved, that's how it works here . . ."

Nassau: A Dangerous Dump?

The Tribune newspaper in the Bahamas has a headline Lawyer Says Nassau ‘Is A Dangerous Dump.' It quotes me talking about Nassau, something I have done in the past when the Nassau Guardian quoted me saying that the Bahamas are 'one gunshot away' from cruise line exit.

My personal opinions about the problems in Nassau are irrelevant, of course. There is no dispute that Nassau has a major crime problem. Just read the Bahamas Tribune (which I do every day) or  the Nassau Guardian, Bahamas Weekly or other Bahamian newspapers. Cruise passengers and crew members contact me regularly about what's happening in Nassau. Insiders at the cruise lines are not happy with Nassau as a port of call.  Serious crime, rape and murder, is a daily occurrence. Why any family sailing from Miami gets Nassau Bahamas off the cruise ship in Nassau is beyond me. 

Since Friday, the Tribune reported on a half dozen murders and a dozen shootings in the Bahamas.  

That's a lot of dead people and gunshot victims. There are only around 250,000 people in Nassau (New Providence) and only around 330,000 people in all of the 700 or so Bahamian islands (New Providence, Grand Bahama, the family islands, etc.) The murder count for the year is already well over 100 with three and a half months to go. That's to be compared with around 225 murders or so a year in Metro Miami-Dade which has 5,500,000 people, 22 times more than Nassau. This year there will be a record murder count in the Bahamas.  2015 will go down in history as the most murderous year in the history of the Bahamas. Until 2016, of course.  

Crimes against U.S., Canadian or British citizens in Nassau are rarely solved. Within the last two years, the murders of American sailor Kyle Bruner, American student Mason Hart, British diving instructor Gary Vanhoeck, British tourist Edgar Dart, and retired Canadian doctor Geoffrey Harding have not been solved, There are no arrests following assaults, robberies, thefts and muggings of Americans. The police in Nassau never arrest criminals or child predators on cruise ships flagged in Nassau.   

The U.S. Embassy and the U.S. State Department routinely warn about the threat of criminal violence in Nassau.

But most families flying or cruising into Nassau don't know of the incredible violence there. And I will keep warning, to whomever listens, of the risks in this dangerous dump.

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Photo credit: BrokenSphere Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons - Wikipedia.

Cruise Cocaine Bust in Fort Lauderdale

Cocaine Cruise News outlets are reporting that a cruise passenger sailing to Port Everglades from the Bahamas was arrested after the U.S. Customs & Border Protection discovered 2.4 pounds of cocaine in the man's luggage and additional drugs taped to his ankles. 

LOCAL 10 News and Breaking 911 report that "Customs officers noticed the man nervously moving items in his luggage as he was being questioned, so they inspected the luggage and found two packages of cocaine inside."

The articles say that the passenger was arriving on a "cruise ferry" from the Bahamas on August 13th.

The Customs and Border Protection, like many Federal agencies, did not disclose the name of the cruise company in question. 

Anyone know what cruise ferry was sailing from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale on August 13th? Leave a comment.

Photo Credit:  U.S. Customs & Border Protection

 

 

 

 

New Crime Warnings for the Bahamas

"New Crime Warnings - Brits, Canadians Put Citizens on Alert" read the headlines of the Nassau Guardian yesterday. 

The newspaper reports that the governments of Britain and Canada issued advisories to their citizens about the rising armed crimes in New Providence and Grand Bahama. 

Britain updated its travel advisory to state that: "There have been incidents of violent crime including robbery, which is often armed and sometimes fatal, in residential and tourist areas of New Providence, Nassau Port bahamasGrand Bahama and Freeport. The number of break-ins and robbery incidents reported to the British High Commission has increased."

Canada's warnings state that Canadians "should exercise a high degree of caution.  Crime occurs mainly in Nassau and Freeport. There has been an increase in armed robberies targeting tourists in Nassau. Incidents take place in populated and isolated areas, and even in daylight hours high rates of crime, especially in Nassau."

Canada warns travelers to stay alert to your surroundings at all times, even in areas normally considered safe. Avoid deserted beaches and do not walk alone, particularly after dark. Sexual assaults are on the rise in Nassau . . . Foreigners have reportedly been sexually assaulted by water sports rental operators." 

Canada issued a warning about the Bahamas after a young tourist was repeatedly stabbed during a robbery.

The newspaper also reports that the United States Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) on Thursday tweeted, “When a jet skier starts shooting at the beach, do you reconsider The Bahamas?”

Most tourists from Britain, Canada and the U.S. arriving in Nassau via cruise ship do not realize that the port is much more dangerous than their home countries.

Last year we named the Bahamas as the number 1 most dangerous cruise destination in the world. Nassau's tourism business is in a precarious position with murders and crime increasing dramatically and Cuba about to open to U.S. tourists.

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Photo Credit: TampAGS, for AGS Media Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Creative Commons / Wikipedia

Nassau, Bahamas - the "Wild, Wild West"

I have written several dozen articles in the last several years about the high crime rate in Nassau.  The murder rate in the Bahamas is well over 30 per 100,000 compared to the U.S. murder rate of around 4.5 per 100,000. I have published articles about cruise passengers being raped and robbed ashore (29 cruise passengers were robbed in just two incidents). Cruise passengers on excursions have been targeted. 

The Nassau Guardian wrote an article after interviewing me a couple of years ago: U.S. Attorney Raises Concern over Crime - Bahamas "One Gunshot Away" from Cruise Line Exit. The response by the locals was mostly denial and to plaster me with hate e-mails. Since then, crime has steadily Crime Nassau Bahamasincreased. 

There is no doubt that Nassau is plagued by runaway crime (this year the number of murders will reach a record high). There are far more crime warnings issued for by the U.S. State Department for the Bahamas than any other country in the world. The unemployment rate for young men is record high and rising. Nassau is filled with guns. The police are ineffective. The legal system is broken.

Many cruise passenger stay on the cruise ships when they reach Nassau.   

Make no doubt about it. Tourists and cruise visitors to Nassau need to be warned, it's dangerous in the Bahamas.

Today, I read an article in the Tribune newspaper: American Businessman Considers Leaving The Bahamas After Business Is Robbed. Here's what the victim told the Tribune:

"This place has become the Wild, Wild West . . . It’s like having a group of people arguing over how to arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. The boat’s going down with everybody on it. And unfortunately here we see a deterioration of the quality of life . . .

We have a higher per capita murder rate than New York City does, than a lot of major cities in the US do. And nobody seems to be getting it."

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Suicide on the Sensation

Multiple crew members are confirming that a young woman employed in the Carnival entertainment department was found dead on the Carnival Sensation

The cruise ship was last in Nassau, Bahamas. Bahamian news sources reported that "on Monday 1st June 2015 shortly after 6:00am, police received information that the lifeless body of a female crew member was reportedly found dead on board a cruise ship while in Bahamian waters." The Bahamian police never disclose the specific name of cruise ships involving such incidents. 

The woman was reportedly found hanging in an officer's quarters. We are withholding the crew Carnival Sensationmember's name and other details.

This is the second apparent suicide within a 24 hour period involving a crew member. Yesterday, we reported on the death of an officer on the Disney Dream

Like the Disney Dream, the Carnival Sensation is flagged in Nassau, Bahamas in order for the cruise line to avoid U.S. taxes and labor laws. Any investigation into this incident will be conducted by the Bahamas. Unfortunately, it is our experience that the Bahamas refuses to cooperate with the families of crew members who die or are missing from cruise ships flagged in the Bahamas.

There is always mixed reaction and debate when we report on crew member deaths on cruise ships. Cruise lines don't like there to be any mention of it. There have been literally dozens of crew members who have gone overboard and lost at sea in apparent suicides since we have been writing this blog over the past six years. 

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Photo Credit: Sensation in Nassau - WikiEK via Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0

Death Aboard the Disney Dream

Disney Dream Several people informed me that there has been a death aboard the Disney Dream.

An officer was reportedly discovered dead on the cruise ship yesterday. The officer reportedly was discovered hanging, in what I am told is an apparent suicide. His body was located in an air conditioning room reportedly on deck seven.  

The body of the Disney officer was reportedly removed from the cruise ship in the Bahamas. 

The cruise ship was last in Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas. It returned to Port Canaveral and is now heading back to Nassau.

The Dream is registered in Nassau Bahamas. Any investigation will be conducted by the Bahamas Maritime Authority.  

We made an inquiry to Disney Cruise Line but it has not responded.

June 1 2015 Update: Bahamas Police Probe Deaths of 2 Employees of Cruise Lines

June 2 2015 Update: There has been a second crew member death, on a Carnival ship, within a 24 hour period - Suicide on the Sensation

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Photo Credit: Nozzleman75 via Wikipedia Creative Commons 3.0

Charlie, Charlie Can We Play? Not in the Bahamas . . .

Charlie CharlieThis weekend I read an article in a Bahamian newspaper (the Guardian) about - are you ready for this? - a "homosexual Mexican demon" called "Charlie" who the teachers in the Bahamas were concerned with. Kids in the schools in Nassau were apparently playing a game with paper and a couple of pencils where they would summons the so-called "demon" out by asking "Charlie, Charlie can we play?"

"Charlie" sounds like a variation of the ouija board game that my brother, sister and I used to play in the 1960s, when were little kids. We would turn the lights out in our bedroom and pull out the silly game from under the bed. We would quickly whip ourselves in a childlike frenzy of fear and become hysterical with nervous laughter. My Mom disapproved of the game but never made a big deal about it. The ouija board fad lasted about a month and we soon lost interest in the Parker Brothers game. Our ouija board quickly found itself out in our garage and then in our dumpster by the street.

That was fifty years ago. But things are different in the Bahamas today. 

The Bahamian school administrators responded to the "Charlie" game by summonsing 20 local clergy members to pray for the students and try and remove the evil "demon" from the premises. The Minister of Education even became involved and told the Tribune newspaper: "It should be regarded as serious. When dealing with supernatural things, I can't explain it, but I don't want our kinds to be exposed to anything supernatural that causes problems. It's difficult to explain but we don't know the extent to which this could impact our children so I wouldn't sanction it."  

As a general proposition, a signifigant portion of Bahamians are superstitious. Having been raised in Arkansas Ouija Boardand the Mississippi Delta, I'm used to people with a propensity to proselytize and try to scare you with images of evil monsters. I've encountered more than my share of desperate bible-thumpers, preaching snake-handlers and speaking-in-tongue charismatic "Christians" who are happy to save your soul in return for a check.

But the Bahamas' reaction to "Charlie" is completely over-the-top. The phenomenon is not unique to the Bahamas but the preachers there turned the "Charlie" demon not only into a Mexican devil but a hated and despised gay one at that. 

On Saturday, I posted the Nassau Guardian article on Facebook with my tongue-in-cheek comment: "The Bahamas officially lost its marbles." I also posted a photo of a stereotypical gay-appearing Latin man in a red outfit wearing horns and a pitchfork. By Sunday, my Facebook page had hundreds of hateful comments from angry Bahamians. 

Deon Deveaux posted that I am "gay and a demon."

Jason Neil Roberts called me a slave owner. He lectured me that the Bible teaches that "homosexuality is a demonic, foul, wicked, diabolical spirit." He questioned whether I was a "proponent of what caused Sodom and Gomorrah to be wiped out?"

"Yolanda" left these comments to an earlier article: "You people still bad mouthing my country! Hell with da likes of you! Charlie CharlieMay Satan make your wheels fall off as you drive! Mr. Walker, may your family die of cancer! Hope to God your mother and father are dead! I dream your eyes lose sight of all da is! When you fall asleep tonight may you never awaken again! You are da child of da Devil! May your seed never produce! If they have already, may they lay dead to the side of the road! Mr. Walker, "IT IS BETTER IN DA BAHAMAS"

The other comments were more of the same. 

I have a profound interest in the Bahamas, particularly Nassau. I want to know everything I can about it's history, culture, politics and religion. Over 1,100 ships are registered in Nassau in order to avoid U.S. taxes, wage and labor laws, and health and safety laws. Many Miami-based cruise ships fly the flag of the Bahamas as a "flag of convenience" in order to avoid the oversight of the U.S. government. 

A result of the Bahamian flag of convenience is that the Bahamas is suppose to investigate and prosecute crimes on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships. So I read the Bahamas Tribune, Nassau Guardian, Bahamas Press and Bahamas Weekly every single day. I want to understand how Bahamians think. Will Nassau be a fair place for a trial if a woman is raped? How will a jury of Bahamians treat a member of the LGBT community? How will the Bahamian legal system treat a U.S. citizen?  

I have traveled to the Bahamas since the 1970's to the present day. I have interacted with taxi cab drivers, store owners, hotel clerks, restaurant operators, bartenders, court bailiffs, police and the like. My conclusion? The country is going backwards. Crime is out of control. A RBPF policeman is afraid Crime Bahamasto apprehend gang members with guns. The legal system is a joke and criminals are quickly released from custody. If you are homosexual, or not from the Bahamas, you can't obtain a fair trial in Nassau in a million years.

If you're a victim of crime on a cruise ship flying a Bahamian flag, no one from the Bahamas will show up. When a Bahamian police officer gets involved, he is there to protect the interests of the flag state and not the victim, even if the victim is a child. Over the last 30 years, I know not a single case where the Bahamas successfully prosecuted a violent crime on a cruise ship.

There is a deeply rooted notion in the Bahamas that the country is blessed. The 1970's marketing slogan that "It's Better in the Bahamas" is interwoven with the provincial and self-righteous thought that God provides special protection to the islands. But it is a judgmental, condemning, fire-and-brimstone God of wrath that the Bahamians seem to pray to, from behind their burglar bars, as the murder rate increases to over seven times higher in the Bahamas than the U.S. Bahamians are killing Bahamians, and an occasional tourist, in unprecedented numbers. There have been eight critical crime warnings about Nassau from the U.S. State Department, U.S. Embassy and the U.K. and Canadian consulates in just the last 17 months. 

The only industry in the Bahamas is tourism. But if If you have a difference of opinion with a Bahamian, be prepared to be labeled a gay demon. If you're a passenger raped on a Bahamian-flagged cruise ship or shot on a sailboat or robbed on Bay Street and need to be protected by the Bahamian police or in a Bahamian courtroom, God help you.  

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Photo Credits: Charlie, Charlie and Ouija Board - Hello Giggles; Devil - el infierno en Costa Rica blog.

A Normal Weekend in Nassau

The Bahamas Weekly reports that four Florida residents wre arrested this weekend for possession of pot on a cruise ship moored in Nassau, Bahamas.

The newspaper reports that the incident occurred on Sunday, May 24, 2015.

The report says that "officers from the Tourism Policing Unit acting on intelligence went to a cruise ship moored at Prince George Wharf, where they found the four suspects in possession of a quantity Nassau Bahamasof marijuana."

Snagging America cruise passengers on cruise ships in the Port of Naasau is big business in the Bahamas. I write about it frequently. The local police don't bother obtaining a search warrant or establishing probable cause before barging into cruise ship cabins and hauling the passengers off to jail. It's easy revenue for the island.    

The article doesn't specify the anount of pot (which the Bahamas calls a "dangerous drug"). But if these arrests are similar to the last dozen or so at the port in Nassau, probably not more than a few joints.   

Meanwhile Bahamas Weekly reports that the police are asking for public assistance in apprehending the criminals associated with two armed robberies and the murder of a woman whose lifeless body was found over the weekend in a pond near a service road with injuries to her head.

The murder count in the Bahamas, now at 60, is heading for an all-time high.     

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Photo Credit: BrokenSphere via Wikipedia Commons 3.0

Carnage Continues in Nassau Bahamas

Nassau Bahamas CruiseThe Bahamian newspapers report that 4 men were murdered in Nassau on Friday and Saturday. 

The Tribune reports that the police engaged in a shoot four with armed men early yesterday. One man had an AK-47 assault rifle. The police killed one man and arrested two others. The fourth suspect is being sought.

The Tribune says that another man was shot and killed outside of a nightclub early this morning.

The murder list has reached 54 so far this year. if this rate continues, Bahamas' murder rate will elevate it to one of the most murderous countries in the greater Caribbean, Central and South America, behind only Honduras, Venezuela, Jamaica and the USVI. 

Other murders include a well known designer and a security guard at the Atlantis Resort. They were both beaten to death. 

The United Kingdom recently announced a travel advisory warning U.K. citizens of the danger of armed Nassau Bahamas Crime Warningrobbery and murder in the Bahamas. This was the eighth crime warning for the Bahamas since January 2014, totaling the warnings from the U.S., Canada and the U.K. 

Canada advised its citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution, especially in Nassau, due to high rates of crime.”

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Photo Credit: DEK Brown

8th Violent Crime Warning for the Bahamas in 16 Months

Nassau BahamasThe U.K.'s  Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued "foreign travel advice" for travelers to the Bahamas. The U.K. crime warning says

"There have been incidents of violent crime including robbery, which is often armed and sometimes fatal, in residential and tourist areas of New Providence, Grand Bahama and Freeport. The number of break-ins and robbery incidents reported to the High Commission has increased. There are police patrols in the main tourist areas.

Be vigilant at all times and don’t walk alone away from the main hotels, tourist areas, beaches and downtown Nassau, particularly after dark. Take care if travelling on local bus services after dusk on routes away from the main tourist areas. Do not carry large amounts of cash or jewellery. Robbers may be armed."

I first learned of the crime warning from Travel Weekly

Incredibly, this is the eighth crime warning for the Bahamas in the last 16 months.

In 2014, Bahamas was the subject of four critical crime warnings to U.S. citizens (one from the U.S. State Department and three from the U.S. Embassy) and one warning from Canada. There have been 2 prior crime warnings from the U.S. for the Bahamas this year. With this latest U.K. warning, that's a total of 8 warnings.

I have never heard any country being the recipient of 8 crime warnings in such a short time period. The U.S. warnings are much more specific, mentioning that U.S. tourists have been raped and robbed at gunpoint. 

We last wrote about the sorry state of affairs in the Bahamas earlier this month. We received a number of interesting comments to the article which you can read here. Many people avoid a cruise itinerary which includes the Bahamas, or they stay on the cruise ship when it reaches Nassau. 

I picked Nassau as the most dangerous cruise destination in the world last year.

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Photo Credit: Bahamas B2B

British Man Murdered, U.S. Cruise Passenger Arrested for Marijuana

I did a double-take when I read a newspaper headline today:  British Man Murdered in the Bahamas, American Arrested on Drug Charges.  

It wasn't that the murder in the Bahamas surprised me. Murders in and around New Providence (Nassau) seem to be a daily occurrence in the Bahamas. Violent homicides and shootings are reported routinely by the Tribune, Nassau Guardian and Bahamas Weekly newspapers. Nassau is heading for a record number of gun related murders. The Bahamian legal system is broken and the society is frayed. The crime is so bad in the Bahamas that the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, and the Canadian government issued a record-number (six) crime warnings in Nassau Bahamas Crimejust the last 16 months. 

Today the murder stories in the Tribune newspaper in Nassau include Mystery Over 49th Murder Of The YearBritish Man Killed at Dive Centre, and this dreadful one - Mother Found Dead And Tied To A Tree

What surprised me today is that a newspaper decided to lump yet another unsolved murder of a British citizen with something as mundane as a U.S. cruise tourist getting busted for a joint or two on a cruise ship at the Prince George Wharf.   

The local police in the Bahamas are clueless in solving homicides. They seem to focus their efforts conducting warrant-less searches for marijuana at the port. They enter cruise ship cabins without a hint of probable cause and arrest tourists for small quantities of pot (which they call a "dangerous drug"). It's an easy way to shake tourists down for a thousand or two dollars. They should be called revenue agents.  

One of the chief complaints we hear from cruise passengers sailing to Nassau is that they are constantly harassed by the local citizens to buy pot the second they step off the cruise ship. You can easily buy pot at the Straw Market and up and down Bay Street. The drug dealers, police and judges are all eating from the same trough. Meanwhile, the murderers in Nassau are running free in the streets. 

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Photo Credit: Tribune 242 Newspaper

Retired Canadian Doctor Murdered in the Bahamas

Multiple news sources in Canada are reporting that a prominent retired doctor from Canada was violently murdered while on vacation in the Bahamas.

Canadian Broadcasting Cor[oration reports that Dr. Geoffrey Harding, age 88, was stabbed to death during a home-invasion robbery last Thursday. 

CVT says that he was an accomplished family doctor who practiced in small communities in Canada before retiring 10 years ago. His son-m-law described him as living a modest life, and not a wealthy man by any means: “He didn’t have any money. It wasn’t like he was living in a mansion there or anything like that. It Geoffrey Harding Murdered in the Bahamaswas a very modest two-bedroom bungalow." 

The police in the Bahamas arrested a 43-year-old Bahamian late Saturday night, but refused to disclose that the murder victim was Canadian. Unfortunately, we have seen the local police in the Bahamas (called the Royal Bahamas Police Force) acting like a tourism bureau before.  

The newspapers in the Bahamas are also down-playing the incident. The Tribune newspaper described the Canadian doctor merely as a "Caucasian man."  This is how the police released the information. The Nassau Guardian did not report on the murder.

In the last 15 months, the United States has issued six (6) critical crime warnings for the Bahamas via the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, warning tourists of armed robbery, kidnapping and sexual assault there. The last warning was in February.

The murder took place on Long Island, an island in the Bahamas.

Canada warned its citizens of violent crime in the Bahamas last year. A visitor from Canada was killed in front of his family during a horrible home invasion robbery last April.  Last May, a young Canadian tourist was stabbed 7 times in the chest, back and stomach when thugs robbed him of a gold chain.

There is nowhere in the world with so many critical crime advisories.

Cruising to the Bahamas? Beware.

April 7 2015 Update: Local Bahamians say that Long Island is peaceful and crime is rare but just last December a 53 year old woman had her hands and feet bound and was stabbed to death, according to the Nassau Guardian.

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Photo Credit: CBC

Another Critical Crime Warning for Nassau, Bahamas

The U.S. State Department has issued a critical crime warning for Nassau, Bahamas today. The warning is titled Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Nassau (Bahamas), Nassau Violent Crime.

The warning states that U.S. citizens residing in and traveling to the Bahamas to be aware of their surroundings and remain on heightened alert to avoid being a victim of crime. The warning states that armed robbery remains a major criminal threat facing U.S. citizens with the crime threat on New Providence listed as “critical.”

The last warning from the State Department or the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas was just last month when the State Department issued the 2015 Bahamas Crime Report which revealed that armed robbery and sexual assaults were increasing. 

The most recent warning focused on violent incidents on March 22nd and 23rd which occurred in areas heavily frequented by U.S. citizen visitors and residents. One victim was was stabbed and killed and the other man was critically wounded and robbed. 

We picked Nassau as the most dangerous cruise destination in the world last year.

In 2014, Bahamas was the subject of four critical crime warnings to U.S. citizens (one from the U.S. State Department and three from the U.S. Embassy) and one warning from Canada. With the 2 warnings this year, that's a total of 7 warnings. I have never heard any country being the recipient of seven crime warnings in just 15 months. The last U.S. warning in 2014 mentioned that U.S. tourists have been raped and robbed at gunpoint, and there have been three reported sexual assaults on U.S. citizens, including minors, by jet ski operators on Paradise Island.

The Nassau Guardian reports that there are 34 murders so far this year, up 35% from this time last year which was a particularly deadly period of time in the Bahamas. There were 23 murders this time last year.

The homicide rate for the Bahamas is over 30 per 100,000. In the U.S. the homicide rate is only 4.5 per 100,000. Most tourists and cruise passengers to Nassau don't understand this.

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Photo Credit: Tribune 

Disney Passenger Drowns at Castaway Cay

A newspaper in the Bahamas is reporting that a passenger from a Disney cruise ship drowned while visiting Disney's private island Castaway Cay.

According to reports by the Tribune, on Thursday afternoon, a 38–year-old man from New York who was a passenger on board the Disney Wonder moored at Castaway Cay drowned while swimming. 

Castaway CayThe details of the incident are unknown.

Disney is known for having trained lifeguards at its private islands, at least for areas where children swim. In a 2008 publication entitled Walt Disney Report on Safety, Disney states that it trains over 1,200 lifeguards a year, including on its cruise ships. Here's what Disney states:

"Lifeguard Training"

"Together, the Disneyland® Resort, Walt Disney World® Resort and Disney Cruise Line® train more than 1,200 lifeguards a year to monitor activities at these venues."

"Our lifeguards must complete a thorough training program that exceeds most U.S. standards and includes both a water-skills test and up to 24 hours of basic training in water rescue techniques, CPR, basic first aid, oxygen administration and the use of AEDs. After completion of basic training, lifeguards must also perform four hours of in-service training each month, undergo eight hours of recertification training every year and participate in frequent unannounced audits by one of the world's premier aquatic safety service providers."

Disney used to not have lifeguards on its cruise ships but recently paid a large multi-million dollar settlement after it was sued when a young child nearly drown on the Disney Fantasy which had no lifeguards.

The last drowning I recall on a cruise line's private island involved a very tragic death of a 3 year old  girl who died at Holland America Line's private destination Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.  You can read our article about that event here - Tragedy on HAL's Half Moon Cay: A Mother's Perspective.

March 1 2015 Update: There was a second incident the following day when the Disney Fantasy was visiting Castaway Cay.  Passengers have contacted me and said that they observed the Coast Guard take someone away whoa needed medical attention while snorkeling. Some passengers said they saw a man with an IV medevaced in a helicopter. 

March 3 2015 Update: The Tribune newspaper in the Bahamas reports that "a second passenger in four days has died while vacationing on a Disney cruise to The Bahamas. A 56-year-old American man was discovered dead on Sunday morning onboard the ship at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island."

March 4 2015 Update: Disney confirms that there was a second incident involving a passenger swimming in Castaway Cay. Disney told the Tribune newspaper that the passenger was from the  Disney Fantasy, who was also found unresponsive at the family beach on Friday. “The guest was wearing snorkeling vest and gear and was discovered unresponsive in the water at the family beach by a lifeguard. They brought him ashore and they gave him life saving measures and he was ultimately transported to hospital in Miami.”

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Photo Credit: "Castaway Cay beach" by Soprano For Now - Disney Magic at Castaway Cay 1. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

2015 Bahamas Crime Report: Armed Robbery and Sexual Assaults Increasing

The U.S Department of State just released the The Bahamas 2015 Crime and Safety Report. Armed robberies, property theft, and purse snatchings remain the most common crimes perpetrated against tourists.  

The report noted that the Bahamian government has not made public comprehensive, updated national crime statistics since July 2013. However, the U.S. report indicates that the murder rate increased in 2014. Crimes, including armed robberies of tourists by perpetrators with knifes or guns, Crime Nassau Bahamasoccurred in areas frequented by tourists including areas close to the cruise ship port (Prince George Wharf) and the Cable Beach resort areas.  The report stated:

"The U.S. Embassy has received an increase of reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, at residences, hotel rooms, casinos, outside hotels, and on cruise ships. In some sexual assault incidents, the victim had reportedly been drugged. As a result, the Embassy has issued five security messages for 2014 (Spike in Crime, Recent Armed Robberies, Credit Card/ATM Fraud, Jet ski sexual assaults, and Crime during Holiday Season). Police warned women to be extra vigilant after a recent spike in the number of reported sexual assaults in Nassau. In October, a U.S. citizen resident was kidnapped and raped. The water sports rental industry is loosely regulated; in 2014, there were four reported sexual assaults of U.S. citizens, including minors, by jet-ski operators: three incidents on Paradise Island and one on Cable Beach." 

You can read the local article in the Bahamas entitled US: Crime Is Now At Critical Level by the Tribune newspaper in Nassau. The Tribune points out that the police commissioner said that (unspecified) serious crimes in the Bahamas decreased in 2014 compared to 2013; however, the US. report says that violent crime increased over the same period.

The Nassau Guardian has an interesting debate in its newspaper issue today regarding this issue. Minister of State for National Defense Keith Bell said that the government of the Bahamas is taking the crime situation very seriously. But FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest said that the Bahamas is not taking the U.S. warnings seriously enough. "The point is that we as a country, that sells itself as a safe, friendly destination for work and for play, this cuts to our economic survival," the Guardian quotes Mr. Turnquest.   

Last year, we picked Nassau as the most dangerous cruise destination in the world.

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Photo Credit: Nassau Guardian

Bloody Nassau

Nassau BahamasThis weekend was one of the bloodiest in the Bahamas this year. Seven people shot and three dead.

By my calculations, the death toll for the year in the Bahamas is 118 (last year was 119 murders). The murders are primarily in Nassau. 

According to the Tribune, an 18-year-old out of jail on bail was killed on Saturday after attending the funeral of his brother who was murdered two weeks ago. He was leaving the funeral with his 14-year-old brother when they stopped at a traffic light. Two masked men jumped out of a vehicle and shot the two brothers multiple times before speeding off. The older brother died and the younger brother is in the hospital in critical condition.

The Tribune also reported on three separate weekend shooting incidents that placed four men in the hospital, as well as another shooting incident where a police officer killed a young man who reportedly tried to shoot him first.

The Bahamas Press also reports that the person who shot and killed police officer Sargent Dwayne Rolle last week outside a popular gambling spot turns out to be another police officer who was allegedly involved in gambling with police officer Rolle who he then killed when he left the gambling joint.   

Meanwhile the commanding officer and chief superintendent of the Central District Police Station, Leamond Deleveaux, claims that he has beefed up Police Nassauthe police presence in the tourist areas of Nassau. He told the the Guardian newspaper that "I've been putting a police officer on every corner for over six months, and over the last month we've gotten more officers."    

He also claims that tourists in Nassau are virtually immune from crime. He states "to be honest with you, crime against tourists are almost non-existent despite what you hear or is printed in the media." 

That's a bold claim when the Bahamas is the subject to four critical crime warnings to U.S.citizens (one from the U.S. State Department and three from the U.S. Embassy) and one warning from Canada, all in less than one year. The last U.S. warning mentioned that U.S. tourists have been raped and robbed at gunpoint, and there have been three reported sexual assaults on U.S. citizens, including minors, by jet ski operators on Paradise Island.

Police chief Deleveaux needs to spend less time playing for the tourism board and more time fighting crime.

 

Photo Credit: Tribune    Wikipedia / Ritchie Sieradzki Creative Commons 2.0.

Should the Bahamas Be Permitted to Register Cruise Ships?

Nassau BahamasThree Shots In Just 12 Hours reads the headlines in the Tribune newspaper today. Other articles in the local newspapers in Nassau include Tourist: I was Victim of Sex Attack by Jet Ski Operators.

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau has issued a warning to U.S. citizens of the danger of women (including girls) being sexually assaulted by jet ski operators on Paradise Island near the Atlantis resort.  

The murder count in the Bahamas just reached 106 for the year and is rising. Last year 111 people were murdered there. The body count will exceed that number this month. The vast majority of the homicides involved local citizens and occurred in Nassau (New Providence) with a population of only 250,000.  By contrast Miami-Dade County has a total population of 5,500,000 with only 229 murders (Miami-Dade has twenty-two times as many people and only twice as many murders as Nassau).

Compounding the problem is the inability of the local police in the Bahamas to solve these crimes and prosecute the criminals. The same police officers who can't solve a crime when a U.S. tourist is robbed at gunpoint in downtown Nassau are often tasked with investigating crimes on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships.

Cruise lines like Carnival, Disney, NCL and Royal Caribbean register many of their cruise ships in Nassau to avoid U.S. taxes, labor laws and safety regulations. By flying "flags of convenience," the Miami-based cruise ships divest the U.S. authorities  from law enforcement duties. In cases where U.S. citizens are victims, the FBI has special maritime jurisdiction and are permitted to become involved (although the FBI rarely does).

But when the victim is not a U.S. citizen (over 95% of the crew are not) the FBI has no jurisdiction and the responsibility to investigate crime on Bahamian-flagged ship falls to the Bahamas. 

This is, of course, an absolute joke. There are well over a thousand ships registered in the Bahamas, including not only cruise ships but tankers, bulk carriers, and cargo ships of all types. Does anyone really think that the local police in Nassau have the interest or resources to fly to Bahamian cruise Bahamas Flag of Convenienceships around the world and solve crimes when they can't solve a crime when a tourist is assaulted in front of their own police station?

I have never heard of the police in Nassau ever solving a single crime on a Bahamian-flagged cruise ship.  But if you are a crew member from the Philippines assaulted by another crew member from Central America, it's the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) who has jurisdiction. The BMA won't do anything but may (but usually not) delegate responsibility to the Nassau police. The local police, in turn, will simply not show up.

Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, the Quantum of the Seas, has dominated the news as of late. There's endless news about all of the technological marvels on the ship. But Royal Caribbean registered the ship in crime-infested Nassau.  When the first violent crime occurs on the Quantum, don't expect anyone from the Bahamas to show up and investigate.

 

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Don't forget to read: An "Outlaw Industry" Watched By "Paper Tigers"

Photo Credit:  Tim Clarke / Tribune

Will the Bahamas Celebration Sail Again?

Bahamas CelebrationThe Bahamas Celebration ran aground ten days ago and sustained a breach in the hull which permitted water to enter the lower deck.  

I am receiving many messages from the crew that they were required to work in dangerous conditions after the ship ran aground and returned to port in Freeport. Now the majority of the crew has been sent home and there are doubts that the cruise ship will sail again anytime soon. 

The company appears to be paying only the basic salary of the crew for two months. Waiters and cabin attendants who earn a basic salary of only $50 a month (and rely on tips to earn a living) will receive only $100 in the next two months.

The Bahamas Celebration Facebook page was updated yesterday with a cover photo saying "Caribbean Vacation Option Beginning November 13" with a toll free number.

This seems very misleading as the cruise ship can't sail and the crew was just sent home.

If you have information about the extend of the damage to the vessel or the status of the crew, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Top - WPTV.

November 11 2014 Update: A number of cruise passengers and agents have contacted us today. Many passengers feel that they were treated improperly by the company. Agents, who have not worked since the first of November, feel that the company is keeping them in the dark.  They have not heard anything from the company, management, or staffing agency. One person told me: "The company is wrong in the way they are treating everyone guest, crew,and agents. Leaving people who go to work everyday with no communication, answers or even a reason, we have families! We are required to give reasons and communicate if something happens in our life but we do not get the same respect."  

Bahamas Celebration

Watch Out for Crime in the Bahamas - WPRO Interviews Jim Walker

WPRO radio interviewed me this morning on its news talk radio show with Gene Valicenti about the New York Times article focusing on crime in Nassau, Bahamas. 

WPRO has a large readership in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

We talked about U.S. citizens who were victims of armed robberies. We talked about tourists, including minor children, sexually assaulted by jet-ski operators on Paradise Island in Nassau.  

You can listen to the interview here (after the Jimmy Buffett into).    

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Photo Credit: Atlantis Paradise Island - Wikipedia / D Ramey Logan Creative Commons 3.0 / WPPilot Atlantis Paradise Island

Are the Police in Nassau, Bahamas Covering Up Crimes Against U.S. Citizens?

I had not previously heard of the specific incidents of crimes against U.S. citizens listed in yesterday's advisory from the U.S. Embassy in Nassau. The embassy said that "over the past several weeks there has been an increase in the level of crime in areas where U.S. citizens live and frequent." The embassy listed seven recent violent crimes against U.S. citizens:

  • "three armed robberies of U.S. citizens . . . in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas;" 
  • "a U.S. citizen who resides in The Bahamas was kidnapped and violently raped while walking home;" and
  • "three reported sexual assaults on U.S. citizens, including minors, by jet ski operators on Paradise Island."

I read the Nassau Tribune, Nassau Guardian, Bahamas Journal, Bahamas Weekly and Bahamas Press on a daily basis. There is no mention of any of these crimes in the newspapers in Nassau. I find the press in the Bahamas to be transparent. There are a lot of newspapers in New Providence. With a Cruise Port Nassau Bahamaspotential readership of only 250,000, the newspapers compete against one another for the top story. There is no doubt that the press in Nassau would report the crimes against Americans if the Royal Bahamian Police Department (RBPD) released the information to them.

The Nassau Guardian even seemed surprised by the embassy advisory, saying that "there were no reports to the media" that Americans were recent crime victims.

I also read the crime reports in the RBPD web page on a daily basis. There is no mention of these recent crimes in the official on-line crime data-base, even though the criminal offenses are extremely violent (kidnapping, rape, armed robbery and sexual assault of children). 

Is the Bahamian police department in cahoots with tourism and governmental officials to suppress information regarding crimes against tourists?

Certainly, there's no doubt that admitting that U.S. girls are being sexually assaulted by jet ski operators on Paradise Island is bad for tourism. It's not the image tourism officials wish to portray. What family would ever travel to Nassau if they knew that perverts were targeting their children and sexually assaulting them on the beach or in the water?

Unfortunately, the police department in Nassau appears to be receiving cues from the tourism officials on what not to disclose to the public. Rather than announcing the crimes committed against tourists and bringing attention to them in order to locate witnesses and demand accountability, the police seem motivated to keep the embarrassing information secret. 

The police in Nassau have been accused of covering up crimes mentioned in previous warnings this year from the U.S. Embassy.  Listen to how one cruise tourist robbed in Nassau several years ago characterized the Bahamian police.

Bahamian Police Superintendent Paul Rolle is sensitive to issues of tourism. He understands the negative effects of crime on tourism. When a U.S. crew member was shot and killed in Nassau last year, Rolle defended his office's failure to solve the crime saying "We aren’t no play-play cartoon police force." He told the Nassau Guardian that "tourism is our life blood.”

Just last week gunmen pretending to be policemen murdered 44 year-old Andre Cartwright as he tried to defend his elderly parents after the gunmen kicked their front door in. Superintendent Rolle refused to reveal the name of the hotel where the police found one of the gunmen hiding.  He mentioned only Central Police Station Nassau Bahamasthat the suspect was apprehended "in a hotel room over the bridge” and was hiding in a "Paradise Island hotel."  Is it really too potentially distressing to tourists to hear that the murderer might be holed up in a room next to them in a tourist attraction, like Atlantis for example?

The only time a U.S. citizen is mentioned by the police seems to be when they arrest a cruise passenger at the cruise wharf for possession of a small amount of pot. But when a U.S. tourist is jacked up at gunpoint or violently assaulted, no official information is available to the press or the public.

Certainly U.S. tourists are not the only visitors who are being victimized; however, the Bahamian police data-base is completely lacking any crime data when the victims are tourists from Canada, the U.K., Europe, China or South America.  

The Bahamas is in the business of selling an illusion of a tropical paradise to tourists. Unfortunately, the police department appears to be more interested in being a part of the country's tourism team rather than preventing or solving violent crimes against the country's guests.   

November 7 2014 Update:  

The New York Times covered the story and quotes Cruise Law News: U.S. Embassy Warns of Crime in Bahamas.

The Tribune newspaper in Nassau picked up this story as well: Blogger: ‘Is There Cover-Up Of Crimes Against Tourists?’ 

Meanwhile the police in Nassau defend themselves. But DNA Leader Branville McCartney said:

“The crime issue is out of hand. You’ve got all sorts of things happening in this country that we don’t even hear about. I don’t want to hear no foolishness from this government or from the police department talking about ‘crime down.’ I’m scared in my own country. The fear of crime is not down. Don’t talk fool around my head about the crime is down, when it isn’t. This crime is out of control and I ask the government to deal with it."

Crime in Nassau Bahamas 

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / TampAGS, for AGS Media Creative Commons 3.0; Wikipedia / Ritchie Sieradzki Creative Commons 2.0.

U.S. Issues Another Crime Warning for Nassau, Bahamas: Fourth Advisory this Year

Yesterday, the U.S. took the unprecedented step of issuing a fourth crime warning for the Bahamas in 2014. The latest advisory was issued by the U.S. Embassy in Nassau. No other cruise destination in the world is the subject of such repeated and graphic crime warnings. 

The advisory says warns against armed robberies, kidnapping and rape of U.S. citizens, including the sexual assault of girls from the U.S. by jet ski operators on Paradise Island: 

Security Message: Recent Criminal Activity in Popular Areas of Nassau & Crime Warning Nassau Bahamas Holiday Season Security Awareness - November 3, 2014

"The U.S. Embassy in Nassau advises U.S. citizens residing in and traveling to The Bahamas to be aware of their surroundings and remain on heightened alert to avoid being victims of crime.

While U.S. citizens have not been targeted directly, over the past several weeks there has been an increase in the level of crime in areas where U.S. citizens live and frequent. We also have noticed criminals increasingly becoming more brazen and creative in their methods. For example, three armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas, including an armed assailant assaulting and robbing a woman walking near Ardastra Gardens. In mid-October during daylight hours in a heavily populated area, two men armed with handguns robbed customers waiting in the drive-thru line at a local restaurant. Armed assailants have placed random items in the street as impromptu roadblocks so unassuming drivers would stop and could be robbed. A man was shot at Potter’s Cay, near the base of the Paradise Island bridge, at a time when tourists would still be frequenting the area.

Police recently warned women to be extra vigilant after a recent spike in the number of reported sexual assaults in Nassau. In October, a U.S. citizen who resides in The Bahamas was kidnapped and violently raped while walking home. The water sports rental industry is only loosely regulated; since July, there have been three reported sexual assaults on U.S. citizens, including minors, by jet ski operators on Paradise Island.

Home invasions in Nassau have become more numerous and violent. A home invasion on October 28 resulted in the murder of the homeowner. In August, a U.S. citizen was the victim of a home invasion and attempted sexual assault in the Cable Beach area.

As the holiday season nears with its many celebrations there is often, unfortunately, an increase in criminal activity. During each year’s holiday season, the Embassy receives increased reports of crime, particularly armed robberies and burglaries."

You can read about the first warning (U.S. Embassy - January 2014), second warning (U.S. Embassy - March 2014) and third warning (U.S. State Department - May 2014) here, here and here.

Canada issued a crime warning in September this year.

The Latin America Monitor issued a crime warning which rocked Nassau in June this year.

The cruise lines finally began warning their passengers about crime in Nassau last year. 

You can read our most recent articles about the crime problem in Nassau:

It's Murderous in the Bahamas: Homicides Expected to Exceed 2013 Rate.

99 Murdered in the Bahamas (So Far in 2014) - How Many Times Will My Family Be Assaulted?

Update: The Tribune reported this afternoon U.S. Citizens Warned Over Nassau Crime (read comments to article). The Nassau Guardian reported U.S. Embassy Warns on Sexual Assaults. The Tribune also published Insight: Stopping The Bloodshed

November 5 2014 Update: Are the Police in Nassau, Bahamas Covering Up Crimes Against U.S. Citizens?

 

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Photo Credit: Nassau Tribune

99 Murdered in the Bahamas - How Many Times Will My Family Be Assaulted?

In a short article entitled "Man Shot Dead," the Nassau Guardian announced today that 99 people have been murdered in the Bahamas so far in 2014. The murder rate will exceed last year's total.  The majority of the homicides have occurred in Nassau.  

The Tribune newspaper in Nassau contains a letter to the editor from a Bahamian citizen after he and his family were robbed for the eighth time. He said that his mother and sister were recently held up at gunpoint in their driveway. Criminals had previously kicked in his front door and ransacked his home, despite his "outdoor lights, alarms systems, powered gates." 

Nassau Bahamas CrimeHe lamented that he was "exhausted" and "fed up, despondent and depressed" that he could not protect his family and felt like a "prisoner in my home."

He expressed his conflict being torn between being a Christian and wanting to grab a gun and seek retribution.

The Bahamian newspapers announce armed robberies daily in New Providence, which is just one-tenth the population of Miami-Dade County.  

Will the $40-billion-dollar-a-year cruise industry do anything about crime in one of its favorite ports-of-call in the Caribbean? Will it invest any of its tax-free money into Nassau and focus on creating cruise-related jobs for the local citizens and security for the local residents and the tourists who travel there by cruise ship? Will it offer cruise jobs to the unemployed young men on the streets of Nassau?  Or will the cruise ships just up and leave if the 100th person gunned down in Nassau turns out to be a U.S. cruise passenger?   

 

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Photo Credit: cosmologicalcabbage.blogspot

Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship Runs Aground and Strands Passengers in Freeport

Bahamas CelebrationWPTV reports that the Bahamas Celebration was forced to return to Freeport after the cruise ship "touched bottom" while leaving port last night.

The Bahamas Celebration sails between the Port of Palm Beach and Freeport.

Although there have been no reports of whether the cruise ship sustained damage, it sounds like there may have been damage to the ship's hull.  I'm not sure what "touched bottom" means. It may be a nice way of saying that the ship smashed a reef. 

Update: The Nassau Tribune reports that the ship sustained a hole in the side of the vessel, and is listing 10 degrees. Initial reports suggested that the ship was in danger of sinking.  Passengers were instructed to wear life preservers.  Photo Credit: Nassau Tribune.

It's Murderous in the Bahamas: Homicides Expected to Exceed 2013 Rate

The headlines in the Nassau, Bahamas newspapers over the last 24 hours are ominous -  Man Shot Dead in Home InvasionShot Dead Defending Parents and Fatal Shooting in Fox Hill

These murders take the number of homicides in the Bahamas to 96 and 97 for the year.  

The Nassau newspapers read like a war correspondent's daily account of mayhem and misery.  In the last week, the Tribune has blasted headlines like Shootings on the IncreaseTwo Murders in Six Hours, and Latest Armed Robberies Bring Month’s Total To 30. The Nassau Guardian's recent Crime Nassau Bahamasgruesome headlines include Two Killed in Weekend Violence and Man Gunned Down Protecting Family

Last year there were 111 murders in the Bahamas in 2013. The country is averaging 10 murders a month in 2014. The 2013 rate will be exceeded sometime in December.

Defenders of the Bahamas point out that the Bahamas consists of some 700 islands. But there's no question that the vast majority of these violent crimes occur in New Providence (Nassau) where the majority of the cruise passengers disembark.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Miami's metro area has a population of around 5.5 million. That's twenty-two times the population of New Providence (250,000). Miami-Dade had 229 murders in 2013. Even though the Miami metro area has 22 times more people, it has only approximately 2 times as many murders. Plus the police force in Nassau is ineffective, the legal system is broken and the tourism officials try to cover the violence up.

Many cruise tourists have an image of Miami as being high in crime, but they don't understand that disembarking in Nassau is far more dangerous.

Both the U.S. and Canada have issued crime warnings for the Bahamas because of the violence.

More and more cruise passengers tell me that they stay on the ship when they reach port in Nassau. They say that they're bored with the straw market and run-down Bay Street. They don't want to risk walking off the ship into a shabby port and becoming a victim of armed robbery by a young man with a gun. 

 

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Photo Credit: Nassau Tribune

The Predatory "Sweet Spot" - Bahamian Tourism Police Arrest U.S. Cruise Tourist for Pot Possession

Bahamas Weekly reports that last weekend the police in Nassau, Bahamas arrested a U.S. citizen for possession of marijuana. The report says that he was a 33 year old man from Jacksonville, Florida.

The Florida man was arrested for possession of pot on Saturday, October 18, 2014.

Around 4:30 PM last Saturday, the "Tourism Policing Unit Officers" went to an unidentified cruise ship moored at Prince George Wharf where they boarded the ship and arrested the cruise tourist for a Nassau Bahamasquantity of marijuana. 

The Bahamas supplements its income by arresting cruise passengers with small amounts of pots. The police board cruise ships without either probable cause or search warrants and then fine them $500 to $2000 under threats of jail sentences of 30 - 60 days terms at Her Majesty's Prison

Violent crime is out of control in Nassau. There are many armed robberies, rapes and murders in the capital of the Bahamas each week. The country is heading toward a record number of homicides this year. The murder rate for the country of the Bahamas is substantially higher than the murder rate for Florida.

There were 970 murders in Florida with a population of over 19,000,000 in 2013. New Providence (including Nassau) in the Bahamas had over 100 murders last year even though it has only 250,000 residents.

The tourism police unit was formed to create the impression that it's safe for tourists to come ashore in Nassau.  The truth is that these local tourism police officers pend more time busting tourists than arresting armed criminals or Bahamians selling the tourists pot at the straw market or up and down Bay Street.

It's a racket we have written about many times

A reader of Cruise Law News sent his comment last month:

"As an expat who lives here in Nassau, I'm privy to a fair amount of insider news from the embassy as well as Bahamian govt employees. One friend who previously worked at the US Embassy, told me that her only job was processing US Citizens (mostly middle aged women) through the system to 1) pay their 500 fine, and 2) get them back onto their ships or back to the states after they had been caught carrying and or purchased some pitiful small amount of marijuana etc . . . and that the Bahamian government saw this as a "sweet spot" for getting revenues into the country with little effort. Entrapment being legal here is the cautionary phrase i tell people visiting us. And yes, you can't walk down by the docks WITHOUT getting harassed by guys selling weed . . . but you'll never see the bahamian cops busting them . . . cause it would affect revenues streams to the country . . . so be warned travelers!"

Update: A headline in the Nassau Tribune today: Two Murders In Six Hours. Murder count up to 93 so far.  

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia / BrokenSphere Creative Commons 3.0

Will the Cruise-Dependent Caribbean Islands Embrace Marijuana Tourism?

There's an excellent article in Travel Pulse today entitled Caribbean Tourism Officials Talk Marijuana Tourism. Written by Brian Major, the article takes a look at how the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) may capitalize on marijuana tourism.

The article cites the growing legalization of pot here in U.S., and the fact that several Caribbean islands, like Jamaica, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago, are considering decriminalizing weed in the future.

As Major points out, it's no secret that people are cruising to Jamaica to smoke ganja. My observation is that the cruise lines know it and make an effort to profit from it. Why shouldn't the islands profit as Falmouth Jamaica Marijuanawell?

For passengers cruising to Falmouth, Royal Caribbean offers the "Bob Marley Experience" up to the village of Nine Miles. Carnival offers an identical tour in their "Zion Bus" to the reggae king's birthplace. These cruise lines may say that they have a "zero tolerance" policy for pot on the ship, but they don't seem to care that their guests get high in the hills, at least not when the cruise line collects $100 a person for the excursion. 

Jamaica would be smart to decriminalize the weed, tax it, profit from it, and involve its citizens in a growing and finally legal industry.  It would be one of Jamaica's few sustainable industries. 

But other island destinations seem to be heading the other direction. I have written many articles about the customs police in Nassau boarding cruise ships in port without probable cause or a search warrant and searching passenger cabins and even safes for pot when the passengers are ashore. The local magistrates will then shake down the passenger for a $1,000 or so, threatening a jail sentence of a month or two in Her Majesty's prison if the fine is not immediately paid. Meanwhile dealers are offering to sell pot to tourists up and down Bay Street.  

The revenue collected by these type of arrests is a drop in the bucket compared to the money which can be generated by legalized marijuana sales catering to the tourists. Plus the islands can avoid the bad publicity and consequences associated with burdening police resources to target and arrest tourists for non-violent misdemeanors while being unable to stop violent, armed robberies and murders in the ports of call which frighten tourists away. 

I think we are going to see trends developing in the next decade between those cruise destinations in the Caribbean which embrace or reject pot. Certain places which view marijuana in practical terms as a source of substantial business will benefit. On the other hand, those ports which view weed in emotional or religious terms, as a product of the devil, will lose visitors and revenue. 

All of these Caribbean destinations have high crime rates. St. Thomas USVI which hosted the CTO “State of the Industry” conference mentioned in the Travel Pulse article has an incredibly high murder rate of over 50 per 100,000. Jamaica's homicide rate is 39 per 100,000 and the Bahamas is 30 per 100,000. (The U.S. murder rate is 5 per 100,000 and Canada is only 2 per 100,000)

Its time to get the marijuana out of the hands of the gangs and into Caribbean owned and operated business that can be taxed and the money invested into the port islands.

 

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Read: Is Jamaica's Ganga Tour the Best Cruise Excursion? 

Photo: Top - Falmouth, Jamaica by Jim Walker

Canada Issues Crime Warning for Nassau, Bahamas

On Wednesday, Canada began advising its citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution, especially in Nassau, due to high rates of crime.”

On its government website Canada urged Canadian travelers to be vigilant and raised the alert status from normal. The warning effective September 17 2014 states:

"There is no nationwide advisory in effect for the Bahamas. However, you should exercise a Canada Crime Warning Nassau Bahamashigh degree of caution, especially in Nassau, due to high rates of crime." 

The headline of the Tribune newspaper in Nassau is Crime alert for Nassau Tourists - Canada Urges Visitors to be Vigilant.

We have written frequently about the high incidents of murder and armed robbery in Nassau (New Providence). About half of the Bahamians who read our articles acknowledge the issue of crime and are frustrated that the government can't do more to address the problem of armed robberies and murder. The other half of our readers are in denial and have a false sense of patriotism. This leads to to threats and accusations that crime is higher in the U.S. with references to the high crime rate in Detroit, for example.

My response is to simply state that everyone knows that its dangerous in Detroit. But most visitors to Nassau naively think that Nassau is some type of idyllic paradise. They need to be warned.

We have also written about Canadians residents and citizens becoming victims of horrific violent crimes in the Bahamas.  You can read a few of our articles here and here.

According to the Tribune, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe said he was worried about the effect of the warning on tourism because there are lots of tourists from Canada who visit the Bahamian islands.

 

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High Times in Nassau Will Cost You $500 or 2 Months in Her Majesty's Prison

This spring I wrote a couple of articles about cruise passengers getting busted in Nassau for small amounts of pot.  

In April, I wrote about seven passengers from various cruise ships who were arrested for possessing one or a few marijuana cigarettes. In several cases of those arrested, the Bahamian customs officer boarded the Miami-based ships without an arrest warrant or probable cause and confiscated the pot in the cabin safes and arrested the passengers when they returned to the ships.

I commented on the double standard where cruise lines like Royal Caribbean or NCL make hundreds of millions of dollars pushing booze on their ships to the point that the passenger are knee-walking-Nassau Bahamas Potdrunk, but the cruise ship security officers will nab a guest for a single joint and turn them over to the police.    

A common complaint we hear from those who get off the ships in Nassau is that pot dealers canvas the port and sell pot up and down Bay Street and in and around every bar in town. And of course Nassau has a major crime problem which the local police can't control.

Nonetheless, the Bahamas devotes considerable resources into making tourist-related pot arrests, even though the majority of those arrested don't even try and leave the ship with the pot.   

You can read my articles here: 

Reefer Madness: Bahamas Magistrate Taunts & Shakes Down Royal Caribbean Potheads

"Dangerous Drugs?" Nassau Nabs Two More U.S. Cruise Passengers for Pot

Well yesterday the issue resurfaced.  The Tribune newspaper reports that the Bahamian police arrested four young men in their early 20's from several cruise ship for small amounts pot.

The first two men arrested were from Georgia and disembarked an unidentified cruise ship. They had possession of one gram between them when the police arrested them on the cruise wharf.  The magistrate told them that they "could have faced up to seven years in Her Majesty’s Prison." He questioned whether they knew that marijuana was illegal in the Bahamas. One of the men told the magistrate “it’s everywhere.” He fined each passenger $300 to be paid by 5:00 P.M. or they could spend a month in prison.

The second arrest involved a passenger from Miami. The customs officers came on board the Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas and arrested the passenger for possessing three grams. He told the magistrate that he "wasn’t planning on bringing it off the ship.”  The magistrate threatened the passenger with "sitting in a prison cell for seven years," and fined him $400 or two months in jail. 

The third and last arrest involved another young man from Miami who was aboard the Norwegian Sky. The NCL security chief invited the Bahamian police onto the ship and led them to the passenger's cabin. The police discovered 12 joints and arrested the passenger.  The magistrate fined him $500 or 2 months in prison.

The comments to the article mocked the magistrate. My favorite was "7 years for a dime bag? GTFOH." The last comment said: " . . . stop wasting the tax payers money with this crap, I hope the fine is more than your $800 per hour charge Magistrate Forbes." 

Nassau has a major problem with gangs, drugs and armed robbery involving young violent men. But the local magistrates and police officers would rather round up stoned American cruisers with a joint or two back in the cruise ship safe. It's easy pickings for the local law enforcement and judicial departments who have otherwise lost control of Nassau. 

 

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

Photo Credit:  feathersboutiquevintage.com

A Bahamian's View of Cruising to the Bahamas

This morning I read an interesting letter to the editor while reading the Nassau Guardian

It was from a Bahamian woman who cruised on a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ship with her extended family on a Caribbean cruise to St. Maarten, St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Nassau.

She and her family were distressed to see several safety warnings about Nassau in the NCL daily brochures. They also observed a sign on a deck on the cruise ship about the topic of passenger safety and the danger of Nassau Bahamasbringing valuables ashore in the Bahamas.  

There were no warning signs or brochures about the other ports of call, in St. Maarten or St. Thomas.

She complained about other issues, such as the port being dirty and disorganized, as well as the abuse of a horse carrying a surrey and passengers. She was disgusted and commented "how can we claim it's better in the Bahamas?"

She summed up her feeling by saying: "I can tell you it's not a pretty sight for passengers stepping off the ship, if they dare to do so after the safety warning about Nassau!" 

I have written extensively about the problem of violent crime in Nassau. Most U.S. passengers mistakenly think that Nassau is some type of tropical paradise immune from crime.  They don't even begin to understand that the place is a far cry from the glossy images portrayed by the cruise lines until they disembark and it is too late.  

Most of my information in my prior articles comes from the local press in the Bahamas, with my favorite sources being the Tribune or the Nassau Guardian, as well as U.S. passengers returning from the islands with a horror story to tell. 

It's a change to see to a Bahamian provide an insight into the Bahamas while traveling in the Caribbean and arriving at the port in Nassau,

 

Photo Credit: Wikitravel Creative Commons

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgendered and Cruising to the Bahamas? Think Again.

This weekend, the “Bahamas Pride Freedom Weekend” was scheduled to take place at a resort on Grand Bahama.

Beginning last Friday, the four-day festival was intended to celebrate and strengthen support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community in the Bahamas.

According to the Tribune newspaper, the event was organized to "underscore the critical need for outreach and empowerment" within the LGBT community. The event's organizer, Victor Rollins, says that the LGBT community is often "stigmatised, manipulated or exploited."

This weekend was designed to feature a variety of parties and festivities, as well as a memorial to Bahamas LGBT remember LGBT individuals who were victims of hate crimes or HIV. The events were scheduled to take place at the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach Resort.

But the Nassau Guardian reports that the festivities and memorial were canceled "out of fear" of violence from "irate" members of the public. The organizer Mr. Rollins reportedly received death threats. The newspaper also reported that local talk shows included vitriolic comments by those Bahamians who wished the LGBT community harm and suggested that God would condemn the LGBT members. 

A religious leader, Dr Myles Munroe, of the Bahamas Faith Ministries International, added fuel to the anti-LGBT sentiment. He has made numerous public denouncements of homosexuality. After learning of the LGBT events, he issued a press statement that homosexuality dismantles "the very core of the natural existence of humanity.”

According to the Tribune, Dr. Munroe claims that "90 per cent of the Bahamas and Bahamians consider (homosexuality) unacceptable and violates their collective convictions, moral standing and values." He characterized gay and lesbian men and women as "selfish," possessing "unnatural preferences," and engaging in "unnatural human-destroying behaviour."

You can read a letter to the editor of the Tribune entitled the Homosexual And Bisexual Plague to understand this view of the LGBT community in the Bahamas.  Or you can read this Bahamian minister's view on his Facebook page - "the Bahamas has to be careful that we don't inherit a reputation as a 'Gay Destination.'"

Frommer's says that the Bahamas is "increasingly gay-friendly," but "single gays and gay couples should still travel with discretion."

Some say that over 10% of cruisers are affiliated with the LGBT community. But whatever the number may be, why would anyone chose to cruise to such a hateful place?  

 

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

Photo Credit: The Tribune.

Video of Bahamas Jet-Ski Accident Goes Viral

A video of a jet ski accident on a beach in the Bahamas has gone viral with the U.K.'s Daily Express newspaper saying that it is the most viewed story in the world on its website.

The video shows the moment a young tourist sitting on a jet-ski narrowly escaping injury as another jet ski crashes into and flies over her jet-ski. 

Fortunately the young girl was scared but uninjured.  Unfortunately, accidents like this causing serious injury are not uncommon. We have been contacted by cruise tourists injured in jet-ski mishaps.

Bahamas Jet Ski AccidentOperating jet-skis in the Bahamas is particularly dangerous. There are absolutely no safety standards in that country governing the operation of such watercraft. The operators are often not affiliated with the major waterfront hotels and resorts and have poor maintenance of the machines. Safety training and instruction is spotty. Holding negligent owners and operators responsible is often difficult.

To make matters worse, most owners and operators have no insurance.

The Bahamas 2014 Crime and Safety Report states the following about the Bahamas:

"Rental of personal watercraft (jet skis) is very popular at many resorts and beaches. Visitors should use extreme caution and not operate such watercraft unless they are experienced in using them. Use of life jackets is highly recommended. The Embassy has seen numerous injuries as a result of not following proper safety instructions by the jet-ski operators."

In prior years, the U.S. Department of State has provided the following warning:

"The water sports and scooter rental industries in The Bahamas are not carefully regulated. Every year people are killed or injured due to improper, careless, or reckless operation of scooters, jet-skis, and personal watercraft or scuba/snorkeling equipment. Visitors should rent equipment only from reputable operators, and should insist on sufficient training before using the equipment. There have been reports that some operators do not actually provide insurance coverage even when the renter opted (and paid) for insurance coverage. Visitors should insist on seeing proof that operators have sufficient medical and liability insurance."

We have written many articles about jet-ski mishaps in the Bahamas: 

Atlantis Jet-Ski Accident in Nassau: Was A Carnival Cruise Passenger Killed?

Carnival Passenger Killed on Jet Ski in the Bahamas,

Cruise Passenger Disappears on Jet Ski In Nassau, Bahamas.

The Freeport News recently reported on the death of a prominent doctor in the Bahamas, Dr. Havard Cooper, Jr, who died in a jet-ski accident. 

 

Photo / Video Credit: express.co.uk / LIVELEAK/BRIAN PRAHL / MediaEntertainmentTV

Another Crime Report Rocks Nassau

The Latin America Monitor published an article about the high crime rate in the Bahamas entitled "Business Environment Analysis - Rising Murder Rate Poses Risk To Tourism Sector - JUNE 2014." the publication reports, in part:

". . . rising murder rates in the Bahamas, including some recent killings of foreign tourists, could weigh on the islands' business environment. If the trend continues unabated, or if there were to be particularly high profile incidents that gained coverage in foreign press, the attractiveness of the Bahamas as a tourist destination could deteriorate, threatening the islands' medium-term growth outlook.

The Bahamas has seen a rise in murder rates in recent years and several high profile killings of foreign tourists in recent months, trends that present downside risks to the country's medium-term growth prospects due to its heavy reliance on the tourism industry as a driver of economic activity. The Nassau Guardian reported early this year that the total number of murders in the Bahamas increased to 120 in 2013 from 111 in 2012, an increase in the murder rate from 29.8 to 34.1 per Crime Nassau Bahamas100,000. Additionally, there have been well-publicised armed robberies and murders of both UK and US citizens in recent months.

Compounding this rise in homicides is that the Bahamas has seen its murder rate increase relative to other Caribbean islands. Whereas the Bahamas reported the fifth highest murder rate in 2010 amongst the countries reviewed by the Nassau Guardian, it has since risen to third highest, behind only Jamaica, where the murder rate was 44.1 per 100,000 in 2013, and St. Kitts and Nevis, which reported a murder rate of 45.5 per 100,000."

The Tribune newspaper in the Bahamas discusses this report in its article "Crime Warning Is Latest Blow."  The newspaper says: "A SECOND report in a month by an international agency has warned that 'rising murder rates,' specifically recent killings of tourists, in The Bahamas could affect the country’s business environment."

We went on record a long time ago with our opinion that the murder of a cruise passenger could result in the cruise lines avoiding Nassau: "Bahamas One Gunshot Away From Cruise Line Exit."

 

Image:  The Tribune

U.S. Report on Crime in Nassau Worries Atlantis Resort

The owners of the Atlantis mega-resort in Nassau are worried about the U.S. report on the high rate of crime there, according to the Nassau Guardian

The U.S. report from Department of State states that armed robbery and sexual assault are all on the increase in Nassau and these crimes are affecting tourists and cruise passengers, including around the hotels, resorts and casinos. 

Over the years, Atlantis has experienced significant problems with crime. Tourists have been robbed at Atlantis Resort Bahamasgunpoint and the resort's own employees have attempted to rob the casino. You can read about the crime here:

Official: Security foils robbery at Bahamas resort

Tourists robbed outside Atlantis

Last September, the Nassau Tribune reported that Atlantis was “very concerned” about a crime warning issued to cruise passengers by Carnival cruise line.  Atlantis seemed afraid that the cruise line might scare off the resort's potential customers by warning its passengers of the crime problems ashore before the passengers disembark.

You can read our article: Atlantis Discourages Carnival from Warning Cruise Passengers of Crime in Nassau.

Nassau needs to get a grip on crime and its effect on tourists and cruise passengers.

Atlantis has to reassure its lenders that the situation is under control as it tries to refinances its debt. But the cat is out of the bag. Few rational people can dispute that the island has a problem. The cruise lines are seeing fewer and fewer people actually get off the cruise ships.  

It's a house built of cards. They could all fall down. Atlantis, the cruise lines, and the Bahamas tourism people are all hoping, and praying, that a tourist doesn't get shot. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / WPPilot

 

Nassau Newspapers Cover U.S. Crime Report on Bahamas - A Tropical Paradise?

A day after we summarized the U.S. report on the high level of crime which is affecting U.S. tourists and cruise passengers in the Bahamas, the major newspapers in Nassau published articles about the report. 

The Nassau Tribune published U.S. Warns Again Over Crime In The Bahamas. The Tribune also published several other articles about murders which routinely plague the capital of the islands.

The Nassau Guardian published U.S. Embassy See Jump in Assault Reports - State Department Highlights Bahamas' Crime Problem. The article was positioned next to another article about a murder Nassau Tribune with a large photo of a body in a bag being taken away a medical examiner's team.

When we published our article yesterday - 2014 Bahamas Crime Report: Armed Violent Crime Escalates - we received a great deal of hate emails. The criticism fell into general categories. The local Bahamians didn't like a U.S. citizen discussing crime in the Bahamas. Many wanted to discuss crime in the U.S. and talk about mass murders in U.S. schools. And many people in the Bahamas claim that it is perfectly safe in Nassau. 

In response to all of that I say this: of course there are crime problems in the U.S. But there are a few salient point to keep in mind. There are around 304,000,000 (million) people in the U.S. There are a little over 350,000 people in all of the Bahamas with 70% of them living on New Providence island (Nassau).

The Bahamas unemployment rate is staggering. Almost 16% of people in New Providence and almost 20% of people in Grand Bahama have no job. There are too many people with no money and nothing to do.

Not surprisingly, the per capital murder rate in the Bahamas is substantially higher than the U.S rate. The per capita homicide rate in the Bahamas is seven or eight times higher than the U.S. rate. There are around 4.5 murders per 100,000 in the U.S. but between 29 and 35 murders per 100,000 in the Bahamas.

The biggest point to keep in mind is that no one pretends that the USA is a tropical paradise. If you are coming to America, I won't bullshit you. Compared to the UK or the European countries which have few guns and little armed violence, the U.S is the wild west.  But many U.S. tourists who jump on a cruise ship for a vacation to the Caribbean mistakenly believe that the Bahamas is a tranquil, idyllic and peaceful place. It's clearly not. 

Many people who rail against our publication own businesses in Nassau, like bars, restaurants, resorts, excursions companies, jet-ski shops and so forth. They can't afford to lose business. They are characterizing Nassau like a magical safe location.  

But the 2014 crime report bears out what we have been discussing frequently here. That tourists and cruise passengers are being targeted for robbery by criminals armed with guns, knives and machetes. There are too many young men not employed who can make a month's wages with a single grab of a purse or gold chain.

Yes, Nassau has assigned more police officers to the ports and the officers are working longer shifts (which the report acknowledges). But crime in general and crime against cruise passengers has still increased. That speaks poorly for the future of Nassau and its fanciful notion that it is a tropical paradise.

 

Image Credit: Nassau Tribune

2014 Bahamas Crime Report: Armed Violent Crime Escalates

Crime Cruise Nassau BahamasThe  U.S. Department of State recently published  the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) crime report for the Bahamas for 2014.

It is a grim report.

It reflects the considerable problems with violent crimes against tourists and cruise visitors over the past year which we have been discussing.

We copied the relevant portions of the report below, but here are the highlights:

  • Population of the Bahamas' 700 islands is 353,000.
  • 70% of population is on New Providence Island (Nassau).
  • 15% of population is on Grand Bahama Island.
  • 15% of population is on the remaining "family islands."
  • Since July 2013, the government has not published national crime statistics.
  • Bahamas continues to have high crime rate, particularly on New Providence Island (Nassau), which continues to experience escalated levels of violent crime.
  • Bahamas experiences a wave of armed robberies at gas stations, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, banks, and residences.
  • Despite anti-crime initiatives, there is a significant increase in violent crimes in locations frequented by U.S. citizen tourists in New Providence (Nassau), with some incidents resulting in death.
  • Violent crimes occurs in in well-established tourist locations, close to cruise ship port and Cable Beach resort areas.
  • Armed robberies and purse snatchings remain most common crimes against tourists.
  • Criminals carry firearms, machetes, or knives.
  • Sexual assault has increased, with many victims drugged.
  • Crime has also increased on Grand Bahama island (Freeport) notably crimes involving use of machetes.  

Crime in Nassau Bahamas. We have written many articles about the high crime rate against cruise passengers and tourists in Nassau. We listed the Bahamas as the most dangerous cruise destination in the world.

Cruise lines are finally warning the passengers about the problem.

Here's a portion of the the official report:

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

"The Bahamas is a prominent tourist destination with cruise ship ports of call for Nassau and Freeport as well as an abundance of luxury resorts, including the world famous Atlantis and the soon to be developed Baha Mar. Over five million U.S. citizens visit or reside in the country each year. Approximately 80 percent of the tourists visiting The Bahamas are U.S. citizens.

The Bahamas is an archipelagic nation of more than 700 islands that cover a geographic region roughly comparable in magnitude to California. At the closest points - Bimini and Grand Bahama - the country is only 50 miles from the United States. As a result, the country is sometimes referred to as the “third border” of the United States. According to the 2010 census, the Bahamas has a population of 353,000. Seventy percent of the population lives on the island of New Providence where the capital, Nassau, is situated. Another 15 percent live on Grand Bahama, which has the country’s second largest city, Freeport. The rest of the population is dispersed over two dozen outer islands (commonly referred to as the “Family Islands”).

Crime Threats

While there has been a slight reduction in 2013 in some crime categories as reported by the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), violent crime remains above the 2012 level. Since July 2013, the government has not published national crime statistics. The Bahamas continues to have a high crime rate, particularly on New Providence Island, which has continued to experience escalated levels of violent crime. Home break-ins, theft, and robbery are not confined to any specific part of the island. Generally, most reported crimes were perpetrated against local Bahamians in areas of saturated criminality not typically frequented by tourists.

The Bahamas has experienced a wave of armed robberies at gas stations, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, banks, and residences. Perpetrators of these types of crimes typically conduct pre-attack surveillance. There were several reports of victims being followed home after closing the business in an attempt to steal the nightly deposit. Several victims were severely injured.

The RBPF enacted a particularly forceful presence on New Providence Island in 2013, which included 12-hour police shifts, random armed police checkpoints, and a crime reduction plan in tourist areas. However, despite formidable anti-crime initiatives enacted by the government and specifically executed by the RBPF, during the past several months New Providence has witnessed a significant increase in violent crimes in locations frequented by U.S. citizen tourists. In some instances, these incidents have resulted in fatalities. In 2013, the police reported several incidents that either involved tourists or occurred in well-established tourist locations. Specifically, crimes were reported close to the cruise ship port (Prince George Wharf) and the Cable Beach resort areas. Of particular note, in May 2013, a U.S. citizen was shot and killed in New Providence during a violent altercation; in June 2013 a U.S. Embassy employee was robbed and suffered minor injuries while on the way to a Sunday worship service; in October 2013, the brother of a local political leader was shot and killed in a deliberate act of murder; and in December 2013 four locals were killed and 10 wounded in a hasty drive-by shooting using an automatic weapon. The upsurge in criminal activity has also led to incidents that could place innocent bystanders at risk.

Armed robberies, property theft, purse snatchings, and general theft of personal property remain the most common crimes perpetrated against tourists. Many criminals carry firearms, machetes, or knives. Unless provoked, criminals engaged in property crimes do not generally engage in gratuitous violence. There have been several reported armed robberies using a knife where the assailant assaulted the victim after the victim fought back and resisted. Many of these armed robberies were snatch-and-grabs involving purses, jewelry, and gold necklaces.

Residential security also remains a great concern, with the police reporting a large number of home burglaries and break-ins, including the December 2013 robbery of the Acting Prime Minister at his residence. A number of armed home invasions that occurred in both New Providence and Grand Bahama in 2013 occurred very close to U.S. Embassy residential housing.

Criminal activity in the Family Islands occurs less frequently. The Embassy has received reports of burglaries and thefts, especially thefts of boats and other watercraft. Grand Bahama is somewhat of an exception, in that criminality has increased on that island, notably crimes involving the use of machetes (large blades).

The U.S. Embassy has received an increase of reports of assaults, including sexual assaults at residences, hotel rooms, casinos, outside hotels, and on cruise ships. In some sexual assault incidents, the victim had reportedly been drugged."

 

Photo Credit: Top - Nassau Bahamas Press

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger From Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship

The Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) reports that the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a cruise passengers from a cruise ship returning from Freeport Bahamas yesterday.

The Coast Guard deployed a MH-65 dolphin helicopter to perform a medical evacuation of a a 56-year old male passenger suffering severe pain aboard the Bahamas Celebration northeast of Palm Beach, Florida, on May 18, 2014.

The man was airlifted to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Video Credit: U.S. Coast Guard via DVIDS  

 

Red Bugs in Bahamian Palms? Nassau Vendors in Uproar Over NCL Straw Market Ban

Red Palm Mite Straw MarketThe Tribune newspaper in Nassau reports on a controversy which developed when a Miami-based cruise line apparently banned its passengers from buying items at the local straw market due to fear that the straw may be infested with a pest called the "red palm mite."

The Tribune says that Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) has apparently prohibited straw crafts from being brought back on its cruise ships in Nassau for the past several weeks.

Tourism officials told the Tribune that the ban was connected to the infestation of the palm mite in the Caribbean. However, Bahamas allegedly has no incidents of palm mite infestation according to the tourism officials. They also say that the straw in the Bahamas is cured anyway.

Local vendors are complaining that NCL cruise passengers are saying that anything they buy in the straw market will be confiscated by cruise ships guards when they return to the ship.

According to the Tribune, the tourism officials have tried to resolved the issue with NCL and have alerted the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association about the problem. 

The issue shows how dependent the Bahamas is on cruise ship tourists.  

NCL sails nearly 15,000 passengers to Nassau on a regular basis on five cruise ships - the Breakaway, Gem, Pearl, Sky, and Getaway

 

Photo Credit: University of Florida

Bahamas Crime Watch: How Do You Manage a Country's Reputation With Stories Like These?

News accounts of violent crime against both tourists and residents in the Bahamas continue to be regularly published in the international and local press. 

David Jessop, the Managing Director of the Caribbean Council, has written insightful articles this year regarding the damage to the image of the Bahamas caused by articles in social media regarding such crime. He states that that the Bahamas, like other Caribbean islands, doesn't have the social media skills necessary to promptly and effectively minimize damage to the country's reputation when tourists become victims of violent criminal acts. I suggest reading his articles: Social Media and Managing Mitchell Nini Crime BahamasReputation published in January, and Reputational Damage published a few days ago in the Bahamas Tribune.

But how does the Bahamas manage its reputation when its newspapers are regularly filled with gruesome stories of violence virtually every day?

On April 30th the local newspapers in the Bahamas reported that a jury acquitted three Bahamian men in their 20's of the "near-fatal stabbing" of a Canadian tourist, Mitchell Nini. Mr. Nini was stabbed 7 times in the chest, back and stomach when the thugs robbed a gold chain from Mr. Nini's friend. 

I have written before that tourists injured during violent crimes in Nassau cannot find justice in the archaic Bahamian legal system, although the Bahamian tourist police seem effective in boarding cruise ships at the wharf and arresting U.S. citizens for small amounts of pot

I first learned of the acquittal of Mr. Nini's attackers when his friends and family posted the news of the acquittal on Facebook and Twitter.  The articles posted by his mother on Twitter indicate that the three men confessed to the crime but later claimed that the police beat them into signing the confessions. 

The Canadian press published New Brunswick Man Warns of Traveling After Being Stabbed in Bahamas. The newspaper article shows a photo of Mr. Nini recovering from the vicious attack in the hospital while saying that tourists should stay clear of the island. He told the Global News "Whether you feel like you’re safe on the resort, as soon as you step off the resort you’re in a war zone.”

Mr. Nini's reference to a "war" is appropriate.

Bahamian Prime Minister Perrie Christie told that Tribune newspaper last week that the government is "developing new crime fighting strategies to win the 'war' that they are fighting against the 'hostile young men' in the capital."

Meanwhile, Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader Branville McCartney made the news stating that he does not feel safe given the ongoing scourge of crime in the Bahamas. He told the Tribune “I don’t feel safe in this country . . . We live in paradise, but we are paralysed by fear. We are in prison in our own homes because of the criminal element running amuck in this country.”

There is good reason for even the politicians to be afraid of crime in Nassau. In December, the Acting Prime Minister Philip Davis was robbed at gunpoint. Then in January a police officer assigned to guard a residence of the Prime Minister Christie was arrested on suspicion of stealing a television at the residence. The latter is a petty crime I know, but you have to shake your head when the bad guys are bold enough to stick up the Acting Prime Minister and the police are stealing from the Prime Minister.

What's the response from the Bahamas to these and many other stories about trouble in paradise?  I have received many comments from the citizens of the Bahamas chastising me for suggesting that the out-of-control crime in Nassau also exists throughout the many islands which make up the country. But there are too many stories about crime against tourists outside of Nassau as well.

Last month Edgar George Dart, a 56-year-old British citizen who lived in Canada, was shot and killed and slowly died in front of his family after three masked intruders burst into his mother's home in Freeport. And a 14 year-old U.S. girl was raped on one of the out islands just ten days ago.   

Violent crime is a part of life in Nassau. Dangerous young men with knives and guns are menacing the residents and tourists alike. Do the families on Carnival, Disney and Royal Caribbean cruise ships know that a war is raging in Nassau and even the top politicians in the Bahamas are afraid of crime and have been victimized themselves? How can a country even attempt to manage its reputation as a paradise for tourists when the local residents are paralyzed by fear? 

Watch the video of Mr. Nini below: 

Consider reading: Bahamas Responds to Making the List of Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations: "The Bahamas Is Safe"

Bahamas Weekly: The Bahamas - Still Paralyzed by Fear: "Over the past two weeks, newspaper headlines have recounted horrific stories of violence, murder and mayhem which have gripped communities here in New Providence and on Grand Bahama Island; cementing crime and the fear of crime as one of the country’s most pressing national issues."

Have a thought? Leave a message below or join the discussion on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Global News

Former Royal Caribbean Crew Member, Acquitted of Raping Passenger, Wins Unlawful Detention Lawsuit Against the Bahamas

The Nassau Guardian published an article yesterday about a former Royal Caribbean crew member, Ruel Lockwood, previously employed as a stateroom attendant, who was accused of raping a young woman on Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas cruise ship during a cruise to Nassau in 2006.

The crew member entered the college student's cabin with a key card, which he used to enter cabins to clean them.

The jury in the Nassau, Bahamas acquitted the crew member of the rape in the criminal case, although Nassau Bahamas CourthouseRoyal Caribbean paid $1,500,000.00 to settle the civil case which we filed here in Miami.

After crew member Lockwood was acquitted, he remained in jail for 4 days in Nassau. For that, he sued the Bahamas for "unlawful detention."

The Bahamian judge entered the order of acquittal on November 19, 2007, but immigration officials kept him in jail until November 23, 2007. The immigration officials contended that the cruise line did not complete the travel arrangements for Lockwood until November 23rd. However, Lockwood contended that Royal Caribbean had a ticket for him to fly home to Nicaragua earlier but the immigration officials refused to release his passport and kept him in jail unnecessarily. 

In 2011, Lockwood filed a civil case against the Bahamas for the extra days he stayed in jail. Yesterday the Bahamian trial court found that Lockwood should have been released by November 21st and awarded him compensation and legal costs to be determined at a later date.

We wrote about this weird situation back in 2011.  Lockwood spent approximately a year in a Bahamian jail for the alleged rape. But after the immigration officials and/or Royal Caribbean screwed up, Lockwood will receive compensation for 2 days. I wonder what a Bahamian judge will think that's worth?

"Dangerous Drugs?" Nassau Nabs Two More U.S. Cruise Passengers for Pot

The Bahamas Weekly reports that Nassau police officers - on a tip from cruise ship security personnel - arrested two U.S. passengers from Massachusetts. One was a 27 year-old woman and the other was a 28 year-old woman.

Around 9:30 AM on Friday April 25, 2014, police officers from the "Tourism Police Unit (TPU)" went onboard an unidentified cruise ship docked at the Prince George Dock and arrested the two passengers "who had a quantity of marijuana in their possession."

Nassau BahamasThe newspaper said that the cruise passengers were arrested for possession of "dangerous drugs." 

At a time when cruise passengers are afraid to go ashore into Nassau because of crime and the harassment of tourists by locals hawking drugs at the docks and in the straw market, the Bahamas tourism police are raiding the cruise ships and arresting guests who have no intention of bringing pot ashore?

We have talked about this foolishness before:

Reefer Madness: Bahamas Magistrate Taunts & Shakes Down Royal Caribbean Potheads.

April 30 2014 Update: The Bahamas Weekly reports that yesterday "A 58 year old man of Spring Hill, Florida is in custody after he was arrested for possession of dangerous drugs on Tuesday 29th April 2014.

According to reports, around 3:30 pm, Officers from the Tourism Police Unit (TPU) acting on information, went onboard a Cruise ship docked at the Prince George Wharf, where they arrested the man who had a quantity of marijuana in his possession. The man will appear in later today to be formally charged."

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / TampAGS, for AGS Media

Bahamas Responds to Making the List of Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations: "The Bahamas Is Safe"

Nassau Bahamas Crime Cruise ShipOur article listing the top 10 most dangerous cruise destinations in the world hit a raw nerve in the Bahamas. 

The Nassau Guardian published two articles quoting government leaders's responses to making the list. The Guardian first published Bahamas' Spot on Crime List Causes Skepticism, Concern." Later, the Guardian published  "Official: Most Dangerous Cruise Port Claim Not Accurate." 

In a blog article entitled "Crime Levels Continue to Be Major Problem for Destination Bahamas," the Journal of the Business of Caribbean Tourism, Travel & Hospitality writes: 

"In the NB12 report (below) Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe does well in showing his clear understanding of the situation and the potential damage that can be inflicted on the country’s number one industry. Conversely, Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell - also interviewed in the NB12 report and one of the primary figures leading the fight against crime - appears to be in denial and suggests that the country is being painted unfairly. While both Ministers have different portfolios of responsibility, the Government of The Bahamas would do well to send a more unified and coherent message about their specific plans to address crime, making the city safe for visitors and locals alike." 

No one wants to make a "top 10" list for something like this. But unlike other countries which made the list, the Bahamas has shown a respectful and polite tone and demeanor in responding to the criticism. 

After a one minute commercial, the news story starts at the 1:02 mark:

U.S. Girl Strangled, Sexually Assaulted in the Bahamas

Bahamas Sexual AssaultThe day after we listed the Bahamas as the number one most dangerous cruise destination in the world, a newspaper reports that a "17 year old American girl was left traumatised after she was strangled to near unconsciousness and forced to perform a sexual act" on a 41 year old Bahamian man on San Salvador island. 

San Salvador is one of the out islands of the Bahamas. 

The Tribune newspaper says that the girl was riding her bicycle in the dock area of Cockburn Town Monday morning when the man emerged from the bushes, forcing her to perform oral sex on him. 

Cockburn Town is the capital of San Salvador Island.  

The newspaper also says that the girl's parents recently purchased a vacation home on the island.

The man reportedly has a mental disability and was accused of a similar act when he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman tourist at a Club Med resort.  

The man is in police custody in Nassau.  

The newspapers in the Bahamas are not bashful in reporting crimes like this.  Unlike many countries in the Caribbean which have a tendency to avoid or under-report crimes against U.S. citizens out of fear of affecting adversely affecting tourism, the Bahamas has a reputation of having a diligent and transparent press (like the Tribune below).

Bahamas Sexual Assault

Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World

Caribbean Crime Cruise ShipThe last thing that a family going on vacation wants to think of is being victims of crime. Cruise lines spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year creating idyllic illusions of tropical vacations on beautiful Caribbean beaches.  But behind that slick marketing facade lies danger.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime recently released a Global Study on Homicide 2013. The Huffington Post posted an article based on the study entitled the 10 Countries With The World's Highest Murder Rates

The most dangerous countries mentioned in the study read like a cruise line itinerary: Honduras (No. 1), Venezuela (No. 2), Belize (No. 3),  El Salvador (No. 4), Guatemala (No. 5),  Jamaica (no. 6),  St. Kitts - Nevis (no. 8), and Colombia (no. 10).  The UN executive summary says that Caribbean countries are home to to 8.5% of the world's population, but they account for about 27% of world crime. 

I made my own list of the most dangerous countries you can cruise to.  No, its not scientific in nature based on empirical evidence. It's anecdotal in nature based on information we receive from cruise passengers who contact us and complain about being a victim of crime in a port of call. 

99% of the people who contact us, both passengers and crew, are victims of crime in the Caribbean countries. A few people complained of being pick-pocketed in Italy. But we have received no reports of guns or knives from people visiting European or African ports ever. Of course, ports in Australia and New Zealand are fabulously safe. We have also never received a complaint about crime in the Asian ports.

We know what people will think when they read the list. "Crime occurs everywhere. Just use common sense. Stay with the cruise line excursions ashore." I say nonsense to that. The fact is that crime occurs in certain places far more than others. No one has ever contacted us about crime during a Seattle / Vancouver / Alaska cruise.

"Common sense" is no help when a port advertised as a peaceful getaway has a murder rate 25 times more dangerous than where you live and no one has bothered to tell you that. Some of the Caribbean countries have high homicide rates, one as high as around 90 murders per 100,000 people, whereas the average city in the U.S. is a little over 4 homicides per 100,000. 

The tourism officials in the islands? Worthless. They'd just as soon sell you a straw hat as a wooden box to transport your body back home.  And don't think that being on an official cruise tour is safer than exploring on your own. A busload of U.S. tourists may look like Fort Knox to a gang of armed banditos in an impoverished country, as you can read below.

Many people living in these Caribbean countries will be insulted and say how can you point the finger at us when you have cities like Detroit or Newark? But who on earth would ever vacation in one of these U.S. cities? Everyone knows Newark is dangerous. But few people who just bought a St.Lucia Cruise Ship Crimecruise realize that Nassau is also dangerous. 

The other problem facing cruise tourists in the Caribbean is that once you are victimized, the crooks are rarely apprehended. There is little justice. Of the last 50 U.S. citizens killed in Honduras, for example, the local police have solved just 2 cases.

Here's my list:

10. St. Lucia: This island is a good case study on what can go wrong during a cruise excursion. 69 cruise passengers were robbed at gun point on just two excursions. There were no warnings by the cruise lines or the local tourism officials, even though there had been prior crimes against tourists. The St. Lucia tourism officials lied to the victimized passengers, telling them that nothing like this had ever happened before.

55 Celebrity Cruise Passengers & 2 Crew Members Robbed at Gun Point in St. Lucia.

14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia.

Norwegian Cruise Line Drops St. Lucia.

U.K. Couple Attacked on Yacht in St. Lucia, Husband Killed.

Liar, Liar Pants On Fire? St. Lucia Tourism Board Denies Prior Armed Robbery of Cruise Passengers

9. El Salvador: El Salvador is one of a few countries which is subject to a "critical" crime warning from the U.S. State Department. It has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. In Carnival Cruise Passenger Robbed2012, it suffered from a murder rate of 69 per 100,000 people. By comparison, the murder rate in Massachusetts, with a similar geographical area and population, was 2.6 per 100,000. Murders and crimes against U.S. citizens are rarely solved. 

8.  United States Virgin Islands (USVI):  The cruise industry already abandoned one of the major islands in USVI, St. Croix, after tourists were murdered over a decade ago. Cruise ships are still sailing to the other major island, St. Thomas, after a 14 year old girl from a cruise ship visiting St. Thomas was murdered.

There are way too many guns, drugs, robberies, and murders to pretend the USVI are a place for a family to vacation. The leading maritime case involving a cruise line's duty to warn passengers of dangers ashore involves St. Thomas.

Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas.

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals: Cruise Lines Have Duty to Warn of Danger of Crime in Ports of Call.

Antigua Crime Cruise Ship7. Antigua: Like other beautiful but impoverished islands in the Caribbean, Antigua seems like paradise but it has seen more than its share of tragedies. The murder of a young woman during a cruise for her sister's wedding led to the cruise company dropping the island as a port of call, but it quickly returned. Travel writers and cruise bloggers tend to hide the ugly side of ports of call in exchange for free perks.

Passenger From Star Clippers Murdered in Antigua

Cruise Passengers Attacked & Robbed in Antigua While Cruise and Tourism Officials Meet.

Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News.

Murder in Antigua: Store Employee Shot in Cruise Tourism Zone Heritage Quay.

6. St. Kitts - Nevis:  Another pretty but poor island where cruise passengers have been robbed "in bulk." The disparity in wealth between the locals and the affluent cruise passengers often leads to armed robberies.

17 Cruise Passengers Robbed in St. Kitts.

Visitors Warned About Safety in St. Kitts After Tourist Robbery.

Royal Caribbean Passenger Alleges Sexual Assault During Sailing Excursion in St. Kitts & Nevis.

Mexico Cruise Ship Murder5. Mexico: This country has suffered some of the worst crime stories over the years. Drugs and be-headings are usually not in the tourists areas, but the tourist spots suffer from the nation's poor image. Places like Acapulco are literally defended by army soldiers.   

Armed Banditos Rob 22 Carnival Passengers on Excursion in Mexico.

Gun Fight in Cabo San Lucas - Is It Safe to Cruise to Mexico?

Royal Caribbean Passenger Alleges Gang Rape in Cozumel.

Royal Caribbean Crew Member Murdered in Mexico.

Mexican Violence: Does Anyone Cruise to Acapulco Anymore?

Mexico Vacation Awareness.

4. Guatemala:  Guatemala is not a place where you should think of renting a car and driving in remote areas, as ambushes of tourists and armed robberies are not uncommon. Many people consider El Salvador equally dangerous to cruise tourists.

Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala.

3. Venezuela:  Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates. Crime has increased substantially over the last few years.

Cruise Passenger Murdered in Venezuela's Margarita Island.

Roatan Crime 2. Honduras:

Roatan Honduras has been in the news lately following the murder of a NCL crew member who was gunned down in a gruesome crime for his cell phone. The expatriate land and business owners are campaigning that crime is rare, but they are suffering violence and many break-ins and burglaries of their homes and businesses.

We have chronicled several armed robberies of cruise passengers and the sexual assault of a U.S. tourist this year. Like many other Caribbean islands, the police are either indifferent or corrupt. The legal system is somewhere between barbaric and non-existent. 

NCL Crew Member Shot & Killed in Roatan, Honduras.

Roatan: The Irresponsibility of Travel Writers.

U.S. Department of State Critical Crime warning.

Cruise Ship Armed Robbery1. Bahamas: We have been warning about crime in Nassau ever since we started this blog in September 2009. In October 2009, two "vicious robbers" robbed a group of 11 terrified cruise passengers from a Royal Caribbean ship by gunpoint in Nassau. In November 2009, 18 cruise passengers were robbed during excursions from Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise ships.

Crime has gotten worse in Nassau. We receive more complaints about crime in Nassau than all of the other ports in the Caribbean combined. Armed robberies, sexual assault of teenagers and young women, and the murder of a tourist makes this port a dangerous place to take your family. The second you step off the cruise ship you're likely to be offered drugs.

The U.S. State Department has issued multiple critical crime warning for the Bahamas.

The Bahamian archaic legal system is indifferent to the plight of U.S. crime victims and the country is inept at solving crimes in port or on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships.  

Warning: U.S. Citizen Murdered in Nassau - Cruise Passengers Urged to Avoid Travel to the Bahamas!

Cruise Passenger Beaten and Raped in Nassau.

U.S. Attorney Raises Alarm Over Crime - Bahamas "One Shot Away" From Cruise Line Exit.

U.S. Embassy in Nassau Issues Critical Crime Warning.

 

Additional Reading: The New York Times published an story called "When Crime Comes to Barbados Cruise CrimeParadise." Written by Michelle Higgins in the Times' "Practical Traveler" section, the article suggests that crime is rising in the Caribbean islands such as Belize, Dominican Republic, and St. Lucia.

Dis-Honorable Mentions:

Barbados: Two British Cruise Passengers Shot in Barbados During P&O World Cruise.

Caymans: Police in Cayman Islands Investigating Sexual Assault of Cruise Ship Passenger.

St. Marteen: Crew Member Shot in St. Maarten.

 

April 23 2014 Update:  St Lucia OnLine: St. Lucia ranked in top 10 most dangerous cruise destinations in the world (read comments to article).

St. Maarten Island Time: Port of St. Maarten Not Listed in Cruise Law News Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World - Destination must remain safe, secure and hospitable.

Barbados Nation News: US Blogger Takes a Swipe at Barbados.

Nassau Guardian: U.S. Based Attorney Lists Bahamas As "Most Dangerous" Cruise Port

The website Cruise Line Fans released its Top 5 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations a couple of years ago, as follows: 1. Antigua,  2. Jamaica,  3. Brazil,  4. Nassau Bahamas,  and 5. cruise ships.

The website Crew Center lists: Mexico, Brazil, Nassau Bahamas, Barcelona Spain and Naples Italy.

Nassau Tribune: U.S. Girl Strangled, Sexually Assaulted in the Bahamas.

 

Photo Credit: 

Crime tape - Crime Will Destroy Us! bahamas B2B.

St. Lucia armed robbery - DBS TV St. Lucia via the Times.

Acapulco killings - "Drug Related Killings on the Rise in Acapulco."

Nassau armed robbery - Caribbean 360.

Barbados Shooting: Splash News/Alamy.

Reefer Madness: Bahamas Magistrate Taunts & Shakes Down Royal Caribbean Potheads

The Nassau Tribune reports on a criminal hearing last weekend in the Bahamas after five cruise ship passengers from two different ship were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.  The five passengers each had between one and five grams of pot. I'm told that's enough pot for a couple of joints.

A 28 year old from Leesburg, Florida was apprehended by the Chief of Security on the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas with 1 gram of pot. The ship's security invited the Bahamian police onto the Enchantment and handed the joint and the passenger over. The Magistrate filed him Pot Bahamas$500 and threatened that if he didn't pay the fine immediately he would throw him in jail, adding “and unlike US prisons, our prisons are not as hospitable.” 

A 27 year old man from Sarasota, Florida was arrested after he bought 2 grams of pot ashore in downtown Nassau. He arrived in Nassau on the Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas. The Magistrate fined him $500 as well, telling him "some countries in Asia can carry a punishment as severe as death."

A 60 year old woman on the Enchantment of the Seas was arrested with 5 grams of pot. The magistrate filed her $800, stating (and I quote): "It is a shock that individuals at this age would be engaging in such illegal activities.” 

A 61 year old man from Fort Meyers on an unspecified cruise ships was arrested after the cruise ship turned him over to the Bahamian police with 5 grams of pot. He received a $800 fine.

The last pothead was a 37 year old who bought 2 grams for $50 at the straw market. The stoner told the judge “I was walking around the straw market. I was drinking. I had like two rums that morning . . " The judge was unimpressed and threatened him with a three month jail sentence if he didn't pay $500 right away.  

It never ceases to amaze me that cruise lines like Royal Caribbean make hundreds of millions of dollars pushing booze on their ships to the point that the passenger are knee-walking-and-puking drunk, but a cruise ship security officer will collar a guest for a single joint and turn them over to the police. 

The double standard also applies to the Bahamas where pot dealers canvas the port and sell pot up and down Bay Street and in and around every bar in town. One of the chief complaints we hear from Crime Nassau Bahamascruise passengers sailing to Nassau is that they are constantly harassed by the local citizens to buy pot the second they step off the cruise ship and walk into town.  

The Bahamas has one of the highest crime rates in the world. It lets child predators go free, it has a deplorable record solving crimes on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships, and it is clueless when it comes to solving murders and violent crimes against tourists

Nabbing cruise tourists with a joint or two, and teaming up with the cruise lines to pull passengers off the ship with small amounts of pot while Bahamians are openly selling the stuff at the straw market, are duplicitous revenue collecting exercises.

The Bahamas is one gunshot away from losing the cruise lines. It needs to concentrate its limited resources on protecting its citizens and visitors from armed bad guys and not hassle the tourists who bring money into its impoverished country. 

 

Photo Credit: Vibe (top); Nassau Tribune April 9 2014 newspaper - Tribune.

Bahamas Crime Watch: British Tourist Shot Dead in the Bahamas

The BBC reports that a British citizen from Winnipeg, Canada was shot and killed while visiting the Bahamas earlier this week.

56 year old Edgar Dart was visiting his mother in Emerald Bay, Grand Bahama after his father died. The BBC says that around 7:00 AM on Tuesday, a masked gang of three robbers broke into his mother's home armed with a gun and a machete. The family were tied up with duct tape during the raid and jewelry and personal items were stolen.  Mr. Dart was killed in front of his son, as well as in front of his brother, sister-in-law Edgar Dart - Murder Bahamasand young nephew. 

The Daily Mail reported that “they were forced to look on helplessly as Edgar lay on the floor bleeding to death in front of them. It took him around an hour to die . . . and there was just nothing they could do for him.” 

A family member said: "His young son was there as well - it is barbaric, horrific and just really shocking."

No arrests have been made.

The death was reportedly the 30th murder for the Bahamas this year. The local newspapers, the Nassau Guardian and the Tribune, mentioned the story but do not mention the gruesome details.

The Daily Mail quoted Mr. Dart's brother saying "The police report on the killing is very scant. Crime is on the increase on the island and they do not want such matters reported because they fear it will damage the tourist industry."

We have reported on the high crime rate in the Bahamas on many occasions. Read:

Nassau Bahamas Crime Watch: Cruise Passengers Beware

U.S. State Department Issues Another Crime Warning About The Bahamas

Bahamas "One Gunshot Away" From Cruise Line Exit
 

Photo Credit: Daily Mail

U.S. State Department Issues Another Crime Warning About The Bahamas

Two and a half months ago, I was on the front page of the Nassau Guardian warning cruise passengers about crime in Nassau Bahamas following a critical crime warning from the U.S. Embassy.

Yesterday the U.S. Embassy in Nassau issued another crime warning, advising U.S. citizens residing in and traveling to the Bahamas to be aware of their surroundings and remain on "heightened alert" to avoid being a victim of crime. The warning referred to a number of armed robberies which occured in the last two weeks.

This is the thrid critical crime warning for the Bahamas since December 2013.

The most recent warning states, in part: 

"Armed robbery and violent crime remain major threats facing both U.S. citizens and residents of The Crime Cruise Ship Passengers Nassau BahamasBahamas, including in areas frequented by tourists on New Providence and Grand Bahamas Islands. In the past year, a number of U.S. citizens have fallen victim to armed robbery."

The advisory also suggested that U.S. tourists should "monitor local news stations for updates" and maintain a "high level of vigilance."

You can read the warning here

We have written over a dozen articles about the high crime rate in Nassau. Before booking a cruise, we suggest reading:

Nassau Bahamas Crime Watch: Cruise Passengers Beware

U.S. Attorney Raises Alarm Over Crime - Bahamas "One Shot Away" From Cruise Line Exit

Have a thought?  Please leave a message below, or join the discussion on Facebook.

Cocaine & Heroin Cruise Ship Bust: Bahamas Celebration Crew Member Arrested For Smuggling Drugs

Newspapers in Palm Beach Country are reporting that a 30-year-old crew member is facing drug charges after U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities say he smuggled cocaine and heroin from the Bahamas on the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship.

The Bahamas Celebration is operated by the Celebration Cruise Line and cruises between the Port of Palm Beach and Freeport, Bahamas.

A crew member, identified as Adrian Bradley Trench, was arrested last Thursday on charges of Bahamas Celebration Cruise Shipimporting more than 500 grams of cocaine and more than 100 grams of heroin. Crew member Trench had left the cruise ship after it arrived at the Port of Palm Beach from Freeport. When federal immigration officers asked Trench for his immigration forms, the crew member reportedly tried to run back to the cruise ship.

The officers apprehended him and noticed two packages wrapped around Trench’s calves, containing 1,043 grams of cocaine (about 2.25 pounds) and 674 grams of heroin (about 1.5 pounds). 

Drug smuggling from the Bahamas is not uncommon. Last Spring, we reported on two incidents where a crew member and a passenger were arrested for smuggling large quantities of cocaine from the Bahamas into the same port. Read Another Drug Bust on the Bahamas Celebration.

 

Photo Credit: thebahamasweekly.com

Cruise Passenger Sexually Assaulted In Freeport, Bahamas

KTAS - ABC television reports on an undergraduate from Texas who was assaulted while ashore in the Bahamas during a Carnival cruise.

The young woman states that she wanted to smoke marijuana during her stop over in Freeport, but she was assaulted while in port. 

The story was previously reported by WKMG.

The Bahamas is one country where crimes in general and sexual assaults in particular pose a substantial danger to cruise ship passengers. We have written many times about crimes in the ports of call in the Caribbean. But a cruise passenger invites trouble trying to buy pot while ashore. 

The television discusses that the murder rates in many of the countries in the Caribbean where the cruise lines sail have a serious problem with crime. For example, the murder rate in St. Thomas is 10 times higher than the U.S. and the murder rate in Honduras is 20 times higher. 

Tonight on WKMG -TV 6 Orlando: "Top Cruise Spots Also Top List for Crime"

Disney Cruise Ship Crime - ChildrenTonight at 11:00 P.M. WKMG-TV 6 (CBS Orlando) will air a special report on crimes which occur during cruises, including ports of call.

Investigative producer Lauren Sweeney and investigative reporter Tony Pipitone take a look at dangers ashore in countries like the Bahamas where cruise passengers have recently been robbed at gunpoint and sexually assaulted. 

We have written extensively about the high crime rate in Nassau which has led to the U.S. State Department recently issuing two warnings that crime in Nassau is "critical."  

If you are a victim of crime in a place like Nassau, unfortunately neither the local police or the cruise line will do much at all.

Last year this WKMG investigative team aired the disturbing story of a 33 year old waiter on a Disney cruise who molested an 11 year old girl. Rather than report the crime immediately to the FBI, local police in Port Canaveral, or the sheriff's office, the cruise line sailed the ship out of the U.S. port to Nassau where the police there did nothing. Disney then flew the pedophile crew member back home to India.

Photo Credit: WKMG TV-6 (CBS Orlando) 

The video below is a three minute introduction of the special tonight.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Nassau Bahamas Crime Watch: Police Refuse to Release True Rape & Shooting Statistics

Cruise Crime Nassau BahamasWe have recommended in prior articles that people thinking of cruising to the Bahamas should first read the local news papers in Nassau.

Today the Tribune published two interesting articles which cruise passengers and crew members should consider reading.

The first article is entitled "Hospital Reports Show 40% More Rapes Than Police Statistics." The newspaper reports that "Princess Margaret Hospital (where tourists are often seen after being raped in Nassau or on cruise ships arriving in port) officials dealt with 147 rape cases in 2013. However, official crime statistics released by the authorities last month, reported 104 cases."

A governmental official told the Tribune:

“Clearly there is a huge discrepancy with what the police are publishing. I don’t want to come out and say they are fudging the stats, but the actuality is that the police are not being upfront with the public on crime.”

Crime Nassau BahamasThe second article is entitled "Hospital Says 519 Shot Or Stabbed Yet Only 10 Attempted Murders Recorded."

519  people were shot or stabbed in 2013 according to Princess Margaret Hospital records, yet only 10 attempted murders were recorded by the local police department.

The newspaper concluded that the statistical disparities raise questions about the possible deliberate manipulation of crime statistics.

A doctor at the hospital told the newspaper that the "impact of violent crime on providing care to patients has been unbelievably onerous."

We have mentioned many times that crime has reached an epidemic level in Nassau.  

Mostly against the local citizens, the violent armed robberies and sexual assaults also affect cruise passengers who disembark in Nassau thinking it is a tropical paradise.

The U.S. Embassy and State Department have already issued two critical crime reports about murder, armed robbery and rape in Nassau in the last six weeks based on the "official" Bahamian crime statistics.

Cruise passengers traveling to Nassau should read these articles.

They should consider that the rapes, shootings and stabbings in Nassau are even worse than the local Bahamian police are reporting.

Nassau Bahamas Crime Watch: Cruise Passengers Beware

Nassau Bahamas - Crime WarningThe newspapers in Nassau continue to report the high rate of armed robberies and murder. 

If you are thinking of taking a cruise to Nassau, don't trust the U.S. based cruise lines or U.S. travel agents to be transparent with you. That would be a mistake. There are hundreds of millions of dollars to be made in cruise fares, cruise excursions and cruise commissions from people sailing into Nassau. 

The local newspapers in Nassau are straight forward in reporting crime. The crime problem mostly affects the local Bahamians but it also involved crimes against cruise passengers and tourists. Check out these local newspapers in Nassau: Tribune; Guardian; Bahamas B2B, Bahamas Press, and Nassau Punch. And check out the Bahamas Police Depatrment. Bookmark them and read the news articles and information for a couple of weeks before you book a cruise. 

Here are a few highlights over the last month:

United States Issues Another Crime Warning For The Bahamas: 2 days ago the U.S. Embassy issued yet another crime warning. The new advisory warns US citizens traveling in the Bahamas of a “crime spike” in the country. "The Embassy said that a number of US citizens had fallen victim to armed robbery and two had been murdered in the last eight months." Read the chilling advisory here.

Two tourists were robbed of their belongings and a rental car at gunpoint: "The man and woman were on Jaws Beach in western New Providence when they were approached by two men who Crime in Nassau Bahamasproduced a weapon, took a backpack containing cash and other items." The U.S. Embassy says that the robbers carried an "assault rifle."

"Nassau is Bloodier Than New York" From the Tribune in Nassau: "New York City is much, much safer than small New Providence, despite that US city’s massive size. Of every 25,035 New York City resident, only one was murdered in 2013. Conversely, of every 2,100 Nassauvian, one was murdered in 2013."

Tourism Conference To Debate Issue Of Crime: "US Embassy officials issued a crime warning to Americans living in and travelling to New Providence and Grand Bahama. In the advisory, the murders of two Americans over the past eight months and numerous armed robberies were pinpointed."

Challenging the Status Quo of Crime in the Caribbean:  "2014 began with crimes rates soaring ridiculously high in the Caribbean."

Are Bahamian officials safe?  In December, the Acting Prime Minister Philip Davis was robbed at gunpoint. A few days ago, a police officer assigned to guard a residence of the Prime Minister Christie was arrested on suspicion of stealing a television at the residence. The latter is a petty crime I know, but you have to shake your head when the bad guys are bold enought to stick up the Acting Prime Minister and the police are stealing from the Prime Minister.

"Two men armed with guns robbed a pre-school while more than 100 students attended classes." From pre-schools full of children to the highest governmental officials, no one seems safe in this beautiful island. 

 

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

Photo Credit: 

Top: Bahamas B2B

Bottom: Tribune

Disney's Crime Warning for Nassau, Bahamas: Are Passengers Staying on the Cruise Ship?

Crime Nassau BahamasToday I received something from a cruise passenger who reads this blog that I don't see very often - a cruise line providing warnings to their passengers about crime in a port of call.

We have written a number of articles recently about the high rate of crime in Nassau.  The U.S. Embassy released the warning from the U.S. State department calling the armed robbery and murder rates in the Bahamas to be "critical."

The Nassau Guardian interviewed me about the problem and I said that Nassau was "one gunshot away" from the cruise lines leaving.

We have heard that Carnival and Disney are warning cruise passengers to be careful going ashore in Nassau. This is the first actual written warning we have ever seen.

I think the warning is missing some things, like a reference to the fact that the U.S. Department of State issued an official warning and characterized the armed robbery rate as "critical."

The warning is a bit watered down too. Disney says that you need to take precautions in Nassau "as in an large city" or in any "tourist destination." The truth is that Nassau has a higher violent crime rate than any large U.S. city other than, perhaps, Detroit. Everyone knows about Detroit being dangerous. But lots of tourists are fooled into believing that Nassau is a tropical paradise.

And what on earth does Disney mean when it says use the same level of precaution like you were in "any tourist destination." Like you were in Disney World? The warning loses its effectiveness. Lots of travel agents say things like this. "Crime occurs everywhere," but that's an assurance not a warning. The truth is that crime occurs more often in certain places, like Nassau. The point is that crime in Nassau is critical. Its unlike any other tourist destinations. That's the point of the State Department warning in the first place.

As I have suggested in prior articles, we suggest that people thinking of buying a cruise to the Caribbean first read the daily newspapers in Nassau before selecting Nassau as a destination on your cruise itinerary.  The Tribune (photo, above), the Bahamas Press and the Guardian are excellent sources of information. 

The passenger who sent us the warning, a mother traveling with her children, commented:

"I have never seen such a busy port day on board the ship. Hard to find room in a pool or a chair. Looks like many stayed on board."

I'm wondering how many passengers are deciding to stay on the ship, when they reach Nassau, because of concern that their family members could be a victim of crime.

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

Disney Cruise Crime Warning in Nassau

Cruising to Nassau? Don't Trust Your Travel Agent, the Cruise Line or Bahamas' Tourism Bureau. Read the Local Newspapers in Nassau Before You Book!

Recently there have been a number of signs that crime in the port of Nassau is out of control.

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau and the U.S. Department of States issued warnings that crime and armed robbery have reached "critical" levels. 

The crime has affected all aspects of life in Nassau. There are armed robberies in the bars, restaurants, nightclubs, streets, beaches, by-the-Atlantis-Resort, on Bay Street, outside of churches, during excursions, in homes, in cars and on routes to and from the cruise ships.

Recently, I learned about crime ranging from the armed robbery in Nassau of a pre-school with 100 children in attendance (two days ago) to the armed robbery of the Acting Prime Minister and his wife in their home (last month). 

Did travel agents inform me of this information? Did the cruise lines disclose this? Did the Bahamian tourism officials state this? 

Of course not.

I learned information of this type from two sources. First, from passengers who call our office and tell us what happens ashore in Nassau. Secondly, by reading the local on-line press in Nassau.

The local major newspapers in Nassau are excellent. The are transparent. And unlike the local police or the businesses which are wholly dependent on money from the cruise ships, they do not act like tourism officials who say "its better in the Bahamas" regardless whether that's true.

Travel agents, by and large, seem more interested in their commissions than telling you the hard facts. They may tell you that "crime occurs everywhere" and ask why pick on Nassau because U.S. cities have more than their fair share of crime. But everyone knows Detroit is a war zone. But few people know that Nassau is too. I doubt that a travel agent, the cruise line or the local tourism people will disclose that the homicide and armed robbery rates in Nassau are some of the highest in the world.

The cruise lines don't want to scare you away as a customer. They may tell you to be careful in Nassau, but only after they have already sold you a cruise to the Bahamas.

Our recommendation? Read the local newspapers in Nassau. Most of the crime reports as well as the positive things about Nassau are covered by the local press. 

Here are the newspapers you need to read if you are thinking of sailing your family to Nassau:

Tribune

Guardian  

After you have read the Nassau newspapers, make an informed decision whether you think its safe for your family to travel there.

January 10 2014 Update: In addition, check out these on line media sources in the Bahamas:

BahamasPress

NassauPunch

Freeport Nassau Guardian

Bahamas Police Department

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / TampAGS, for AGS Media

Nassau Bahamas: "One Gunshot Away" From Losing Cruise Lines

Yesterday the Nassau Guardian published an interview of me discussing the crime situation in Nassau which cruise passengers face when disembarking at the port.

You can read that interview here: "U.S. attorney raises alarm over crime - Bahamas 'one gunshot away' from cruise line exit says maritime lawyer who represents victims." My opinion is that Carnival and the other cruise lines will let matters in Nassau play out as they long as they can. But an armed robbery of a passenger ending in death will probably result in the cruise lines pulling out, as they have done in the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix) and Mexico. 

Today the cruise line responded to my interview. A representative of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Jim Walker Cruise Lawyer Nassau CrimeAssociation (FCCA) was interviewed in an article "Passenger perception is the key for cruise lines." Her opinions were interesting. She said that its not the crime, but the passengers' perception of whether Nassau is dangerous, which is important.  I suppose that raises the issue of whether the cruise lines and travel agents are warning passengers before they buy their cruises, which doesn't seem to be the case.   

As matters now stand, most travel agents don't warn passengers about Nassau. When challenged on social media whether they issue warnings to their clients about armed robbery in Nassau (which the U.S. Department of State warns about), most travel agents didn't want to talk about it.

Carnival warns passengers before they cruise into Nassau. The FCCA representative disputes the term "warning." She said that the advisories are "merely information the cruise lines are obligated to provide."

So we are left with the reality versus perception game. Expect a renewed effort in the media from the Bahamas tourism officials to convince the U.S. public that cruising to Nassau remains safe, irrespective of the actual crime rate. 

A Cruise Passenger's Perspective: Local Newspapers in Nassau, Bahamas Paint Grim Image of Armed Robberies & Murders

On Friday, I published an article regarding whether travel agents and cruise lines are warning passengers about the high rate of violent crime in Nassau. My article followed an article in the Tribune newspaper in Nassau reporting on the cruise industry's concern with crime against its passengers and crew members, as well as the U.S. State Department warning of the risk to tourists of armed robbery. 

My impression is that whereas Carnival is warning its passengers of high crime ashore in Nassau, the other cruise lines are not. And while some travel agents are transparent with their clients and tell them the sad news about Nassau, many have a cavalier attitude of "crime happens everywhere" or "nothing Nassau Bahamas Crimehas happened to me there" type of approach.

The article - Is Your Travel Agent or Cruise Line Warning You of Crime in the Bahamas? - also hit a nerve with the residents of the Bahamas. In comments to my article, I received two reactions from the Bahamas community. One sentiment was "yes, its dangerous here." The other reaction was a mixture of denial and strange patriotism "no, don't malign my country, Miami is more dangerous."

But the truth is that Nassau is more dangerous than Miami, New York, or Los Angeles, and does not compare well to even Detroit which is the murder capital of the U.S. In terms of armed robberies and murders, a U.S. citizen cannot travel to a more dangerous city in the U.S. compared to Nassau. And unlike these U.S. cities, Nassau is dependent on tourists arriving by cruise ship. The Miami-based cruise lines are finally talking about pulling out of Nassau if such high crime affecting their guests doesn't improve.   

The Bahamas used to advertise that "it's better in the Bahamas." I don't know if it does anymore. A more accurate description would be "it's more dangerous in the Bahamas."

Perhaps some of the remote islands of the Bahamas are safer, but that's not where the cruise lines unload thousands of people a day.

Last month, the Acting Prime Minister of the Bahamas was the victim of armed robbery (see photos on our Facebook page here).  Earlier this year, a 74 year-old female U.S. diplomat was the victim of an armed robbery on a Sunday morning downtown Nassau while walking to church. A few months ago, we wrote about the open letter to the Tribune newspaper about crime penned by Bahamian Senator Bostwick who talked about "regular random robbery of tourists."   

Many in the Bahamas dependent on the U.S. dollars of the cruise passengers say that violence finds only those tourists who "go over the hill" looking for drugs or sex. Similarly, many U.S. travel agents tell their clients that everything will be fine if you stick with the other passengers in the cruise approved excursions ashore.

But I will always think of the Bahamas as the only place where armed robbers have targeted cruise passengers to rob in bulk on multiple occassions. I'm talking about the armed robbery of 11 passengers visiting the Queen's Staircase on a quiet Sunday afternoon and, a month later, the armed robbery and terrorizing of 18 cruise passengers during a cruise excursion to a nature's preserve.

I have been accused of exaggerating things. My response is don't read my blog. Read the local newspapers in Nassau - the Tribune and the Guardian.  They are filled daily with stories of violent crime. I selected ten front page headlines from the Tribune in the last month or so to post on our Facebook page. Here are a few recent headlines:

"Man shot down in street," "7 shot, 1 killed at peace party," Murder count over 2012 total," and "Four dead in 36 hours of violence." The headlines go on and on.

You can see the articles from the Tribune here.

I doubt any cruise lines or travel agents want any of their customers to read these articles when deciding their cruise itinerary.  

Bahamas Cruise Crime Controversy Continues: Is the Carnival Warning Adequate?

Newspapers in Nassau continue to cover the bickering over whether Carnival Cruise Line should be warning its passengers about the high rate of crime in the Bahamas. 

In an article last week, we pointed out the criticism leveled against Carnival by the Atlantis mega-resort that Carnival's warning letter provided to cruise passengers had the potential to scare them from leaving the cruise ship and coming ashore with their money.  Local vendors in Nassau were making the same complaints.

A Senator in the Bahamas, John Bostwick, jumped into the controversy by publicly accusing Carnival of unnecessarily frightening its passengers over crime in Nassau to divert them to the cruise line's new Cruise Ship Crime - Nassau Bahamasprivate island, Blackbeard’s Cay.

Shortly after these accusations against Carnival, Senator Bostwick wrote a letter to the Tribune newspaper talking of "regular random robbery of tourists" at gunpoint, including a 74 year-old diplomat robbed in Nassau while walking to church and the armed robbery of tourists outside of Atlantis. He also complained that there was a developing sex industry at the port involving boys. 

Mr. Bostwick recommended an urgent saturation of tourist zones with CCTV cameras, increased police funding, and additional police patrols, K-9 units & undercover operations.  He also suggested the removal of all "vagrants, negative characters and known criminals" from downtown and efforts to avoid Nassau turning into a place of sex and narco-tourism.

Meanwhile, the latest news is that the Bahamian Tourism Minister, Obie Wilchcombe, has promised to investigate the Senator's accusations against Carnival.  

In a showdown between Carnival and the tourism-dependent Bahamas, the cruise line has the upper hand. Carnival can pull out of Nassau in a second and leave the island reeling. Just ask St. Croix, Acapulco and Mazatlan. 

Carnival responded to the controversy by pointing out that it sent the Bahamas with a “draft” warning during a May 2013 meeting of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) members. A vice president of Carnival stated “the Bahamian government was made aware in advance that cruise lines were planning to warn their guests.”  

The Bahamas Tribune newspaper contains the language of the Carnival letter to its guests:

“The US Embassy in Nassau recently issued a security message advising US citizens traveling to the Bahamas to be aware of their surroundings and remain on heightened alert to avoid being a victim of crime.

The Bahamian government is taking this situation very seriously and has committed to providing significant additional security personnel and resources, with particular focus on the tourist areas.

We wanted to bring this to your attention as a reminder to enhance your personal security by exercising good judgment and taking certain precautions as you would when visiting any foreign destination.

If you decide to venture into town, we encourage you to stay in the main tourist areas, return to the ship before sunset, and refrain from wearing any jewelry or carrying large sums of cash or other valuables.

Compared to the grim warning of the situation in the Bahamas contained in the U.S. State Department on-line warnings, the Carnival letter is rather innocuous and is really not much of a warning at all. It's incomplete and understates the critical nature of the crime problem in Nassau.

It's often hard for the cruise lines and the local tourism officials in the Caribbean ports of call, which rely on U.S. dollars from cruise passengers, to have a transparent conversation about the risks associated with crime in the ports of call.

Just today, an article was published in a newspaper in Trinidad & Tobago about the harm to the country's tourism industry caused by travel advisories about robbery, kidnapping and sexual assault involving cruise passengers and tourists.

It seems like many tourism officials in countries in the Caribbean view scary travel advisories as the problem rather than crime itself.

 

Photo Credit: meted.ucar.edu

Atlantis Discourages Carnival from Warning Cruise Passengers of Crime in Nassau

A dispute has erupted in Nassau whether cruise passengers who disembark in the Bahamas should be warned of the risk of violent and often deadly crime. 

In response to the widespread violent crimes and high homicide rate in the Bahamas, Carnival Cruise Line finally began warning its passengers of the crime problems ashore before the passengers disembark. The warning comes in the form of a letter which Carnival provides to its passengers before they arrive at port in Nassau.

Carnival's warning includes telling the thousands of passengers Atlantis Nassau Bahamas - Carnival Cruise - Crimeon each ship not to carry large sums of cash when disembarking in Nassau.

Tribune 242 reports that the Atlantis Resort in Nassau (which can accommodate some 4,000 cruise passengers a day) is “very concerned” about the crime warning sent by Carnival. Simply put, it seems like Atlantis is afraid that the cruise line will scare off the resort's potential customers.

The newspaper reports that local merchants in port including those along Bay Street, in addition to the Atlantis mega-resort on Paradise Island, have expressed concerns over the effect of Carnival's warning on their business.  

David Johnson, the Ministry of Tourism’s director-general, told the newspaper that the Bahamas was trying to respond to the anger expressed by Bahamian merchants over the impact on their businesses by Carnival's warning letter. Mr. Johnson said that the letter was being left by Carnival employees in cruise passenger cabins. Johnson was quoted saying:

“Every passenger receiving a note like that, even before they arrive at the destination, that’s not what we would wish to see. We want to optimize the tourism dollars businesses are getting, so we’re very concerned about that." 

Johnson also said that it sent a "negative message about Nassau to potential visitors before they even set foot in the city." 

“We’re disappointed that the cruise lines may be discouraging passengers from venturing off the ship,” the Atlantis executive George Markantonis told the newspaper. 

My take? How irresponsible on Atlantis' behalf.

Atlantis has experienced significant problems with tourists robbed at gunpoint or its own employees attempting robbery, as you can see here and here.

Cruise lines like Carnival have a legal responsibility to warn cruise passengers of the risk of crime which it knows or should know about ashore in its ports of call. Crime in Nassau is well known to the cruise lines but not generally known by passengers.  Read our recent articles here and here. Crime in Nassau has been a major problem ever since I started this blog: Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

Carnival is finally doing the right thing by warning its passengers of the crime in Nassau. Atlantis, on the other hand, seems driven only by the Almighty Dollar.  

September 10 2013 Update:  Read the U.S. State Department's warning about Bahamas. 

 

Photo Credit: Atlantis - Carnival Cruise Line

Nassau Bahamas Killing Spree: Cruise Line Warns Passengers

The Nassau Guardian contains several articles this week about the high homicide rate in the Bahamas.

11 Murders in 12 Days blasts the headlines today.  All victims of hand gun violence. 80 murders in the Bahamas this year alone.  A substantially higher homicide rate than anywhere in the U.S. 

The newspaper articles refer to "crime has become an everyday occurrence in the capital's city center" with "a cruise ship has resorted to telling their guests not to move around with cash . . ." 

Crime Nassau Bahamas - Cruise ShipThis is hardly surprising to people who know the Bahamas.

Violent crime remains a major problem in Nassau.  It's amazing that cruise lines like Carnival, Disney and Royal Caribbean cruise there. What parents would take their families there if they knew the true extent of the crime in this port?

But there is great money to be made by the cruise lines in this island. Unrealistically low passenger head taxes by the Bahamas means great profits for the cruise executives who load the ships up with sheep-like passengers and fleece them of their money with over-priced drinks and cruise excursions.

It's a problem we have written about lots of time both in Bahamas and the Caribbean.  Warning: U.S. Citizen Murdered in Nassau - Cruise Passengers Urged to Avoid Travel to the Bahamas!

A knowledgeable blogger recently summed up the mess in Nassau:

The social fabric of the Bahamas is being undone, and nothing can fix it. Crime is out of control. The scary part is that they will kill you after they rob you. An American tourist was shot dead two weeks ago. You take your life into your own hands when you visit the Bahamas.

My view?  It's only a matter of time before an unsuspecting cruise passenger becomes one of the homicide statistics.    

Is Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas Safe to Sail After Fire?

Six weeks ago, the Grandeur of the Seas burst into flames on the high seas. It took two hours before the crew could finally extinguish the blaze. The cruise ship has since been in dry dock in the Bahamas under repair.

Yesterday travel agents and the cruise & travel media who Royal Caribbean invited aboard the cruise sailed on a one day cruise out of Baltimore for promotional purposes. Today passengers will sail on a one week cruise. One news station out of Baltimore broadcast that the Grandeur is "repaired and ready to sail." 

The problem is that repairs to the cruise ship are still ongoing.

Grandeur of the Seas Fire - Cruise Ship Over 150 passengers from 78 cabins were bumped from the cruise today because their cabins are still being reconstructed. 

Travel agents aboard the ship report that repair work is still ongoing. According to Cruise Critic, in addition to the 78 cabins which are not ready for passengers, several lounges (Diamond Club & South Pacific Lounge) which burned last month will remain closed.

The concern that I have when I hear news like this is whether the cruise ship is really ready to sail and, most importantly, safe for passengers to cruise? Remember that there has been no report released of what caused the fire in the first place. We previously wrote about the tendency of the cruise lines to bring their ships back to service quickly and long before the official analysis is completed, assuming an official report is ever prepared. Read What Caused the Grandeur of the Seas Fire?     

The investigation into the Grandeur fire is being overseen by the Bahamas, with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).  Cruise Critic says that the "Bahamas Maritime Authority is currently drafting a final report on the incident."  Hogwash.  The Bahamas was responsible for investigating the fire which disabled the Carnival Triumph (the infamous "poop cruise" five months ago) and the Bahamas has still not finalized a report on that cruise fire yet.  

And there has been no report released on the cause of the other high profile cruise ship fire which occurred aboard Carnival's Splendor and left it disabled. That fire occurred over two and one-half years ago.  Another flag of convenience country (Panama) was responsible for overseeing that investigation, but has released nothing.

Its seems irresponsible to pile many thousands of travel agents and cruise passengers (not to mention the hard working crew) aboard the ship without telling the guests why the last time the Grandeur sailed several thousands of people stood at their muster stations in the middle of the night watching the lifeboat being deployed as the fire raged for two hours.

Grandeur of the Seas FireWhat caused the fire?  Why was the fire not extinguished by an automatic system? Is there even an automatic suppression at the mooring area at the stern of the ship? If not, shouldn't one be installed?

Were any of the travel agents and travel media asking these questions? Do any of the passengers boarding the cruise ship this morning care about these basic issues?

It doesn't seem so. A local CBS station in Baltimore aired these comments from travel agents: 

You always tell your clients things happen. Fires happen on land, they’re going to happen at sea,” said Paul Cathcart, travel agent.

“Nobody was hurt. You got free drinks. You got an extra day at sea,” said Donna Lopez, travel agent. 

Join the discussion on Facebook - was the fire caused by a cigarette? An electrical problem? Should the public trust the cruise lines to tell the truth?

 

Photo Credits:

Top: Cruise Critic Facebook

Bottom: Janeeva Russel / the Freeport News

Bimini SuperFast Cruise Ship Stuck at the Dock

A new "super-fast" cruise ferry service between Miami and Bimini, the Bahamas started off on the wrong foot when the ship flunked U.S. Coast Guard requirements. The Resorts World's Bimini SuperFast was suppose to sail passengers from Miami over to a new gambling resort in Bimini.

On June 28th the wife of the Bahamian Prime Minister christened the vessel at the Port of Miami with the words: "I name this ship Bimini Superfast and may she bring fair winds and good fortune to all who sail on her.”

But 2 days later, according to the Miami Herald, the ship and its operators failed tests gauging performance in emergency situations. The crew was unable to adequately conduct emergency drills and evacuate passengers off the ship and in lifeboats within 30 minutes. The ship failed to have emergency sources of power and the mechanism that allows lifeboats to drop from the ship malfunctioned.  

A Coast Guard spokesperson said that there was an “overall lack of proficiency by the crew to respond to an emergency situation.” 

Bimini SuperFast received safety inspections overseas after it was built in 2001 including a certificate from Panama to carry passengers.  But for now the Coast Guard has shut the ship down at the Port of Miami awaiting re-inspection.

 

 

It's Not Better in the Bahamas: Crime Up, Cruise Passenger Spending Down

The headline today in the Nassau Guardian newspaper blasted "Elderly Woman Shot at Home" during a robbery.  Another front page story involved an unrelated but even more deadly title "Men Charged with Murder."

These headlines are hardly rare. Two weeks ago, a U.S. crew member was shot dead during a robbery in downtown Nassau.  You can read about that crime and many others against cruise passengers in Nassau here

The U.S. State Department has issued at least three "critical" warnings to travelers of the high homicide rate in the Bahamas, which is many, many times greater than the murder rate in Los Angeles Its Better in the Bahamas - Cruise Crimefor example. 

Cruise lines are complaining to government representatives about cruise passengers being robbed. And there is talk about warning cruise passengers not to leave the cruise ships when they dock in Nassau.

Crimes are hardly limited to Bahamians killing and robbing other Bahamians.

Last week two armed men robbed 20 patron of a downtown bar at gun point of their money and valuables. Most of the people robbed were tourists.

The increasing crime trend is occurring at a time when cruise passengers are spending less money in the Bahamas.  Cruise passengers now spend around $65 a day while ashore down from around $84 a few years ago.  

For country where well over 50% of its Gross National Produce comes from tourists, the Bahamas is facing a tough situation. Cruise passengers are spending less and are more likely to be robbed or shot while on vacation. 

A local newspaper bluntly reports The Government Has Lost the War on Crime.

We have been involved in two cases involving shore excursions where over 30 cruise passengers were robbed at gunpoint in the Bahamas, as well as young women sexually assaulted in Nassau and on cruise ships in port there.

Disney recently sailed its Disney Dream with a child molester aboard, rather than report the crime timely to U.S. authorities, because it knew that the Bahamas police which can't control crime on their own island would do nothing about a crime on a Bahamian cruise ship.    

ABC News: Passengers on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas Heard "Big Explosions"

According to ABC News, passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas said they heard "big explosions" after a fire broke out early Monday morning, charring the stern of the ship and forcing an early end to the cruise.

Royal Caribbean said the fire was discovered at 2:50 AM on Monday on the mooring area on deck three. The decks above were charred in the fire. Passenger remained at their muster stations until around 7:15 AM. 

Passenger Luke Sluscher, 20, was awakened by the commotion. When he stepped outside his room, he "heard crew yelling mayday, mayday, as they ran to put out the fire."  

Royal Caribbean is now flying passengers back to Baltimore from Freeport, Bahamas. Passengers will receive a full refund of their fare and a certificate for a future cruise.

Royal Caribbean's PR team received high marks for using social media to keep the public informed and by flying its president, Adam Goldstein, to the scene.

Watch the remainder of the story below:

 

 

Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas Catches on Fire

News stations in South Florida are reporting that a fire broke out early this morning aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailing off the Florida coast.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the fire broke out aboard the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas

The fire occurred on deck three on the 916-foot ship.

A NBC news station said that the fire was categorized as a “Class A” fire, meaning it broke out in solid Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Ship Firecombustible materials such as wood or plastic and did not involve fuel or other flammable liquids.

The cruise ship radioed for assistance. Another cruise ship, the Carnival Sensation, was on on standby to help the ship in case of evacuation. Passenger gathered at muster stations.

The fire was extinquished, although there are conflicting accounts of how long it took. A comment on the Cruise Critic site says that it took two hours to stop the fire.

A photo released by Royal Caribbean shows a huge fire and smoke residue on the stern of the cruise ship.

The Grandeur of the Seas was recently given a $48 million refurbishment and was based in Baltimore, according to the Royal Caribbean website.

The Grandeur was on its way to Coco Cay, Bahamas, when the fire broke out, according to a Royal Caribbean Cruises statement.  The ship is now in Freeport, Bahamas, where it will be inspected.  

Were you on the cruise? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

 

Photo below via ABC / cruise expert Professor Ross Klein:

Grandeur of the Seas - Cruise Ship Fire 

Police in Bahamas Defend Dropping Disney Child Molestation Case: "There is No Complaint in the Bahamas and There is No Issue"

A police officer in Nassau, Bahamas finds himself in the middle of a controversy regarding another botched investigation by the Bahamas into a Bahamian-flagged cruise ship matter.    

Nassau police superintendent Paul Rolle is quoted in an article in the Nassau Guardian about the molestation of an 11 year old girl by a 33 year old crew member aboard the Disney Dream cruise ship, saying: "As far as I am concerned there is no complaint in the Bahamas and there is no issue."

These remarkably insensitive comments by police officer Rolle in the Bahamas are an insight into how indifferent many law enforcement officials are in the flag-of-convenience countries where cruise lines register their cruise ships to avoid the scrutiny of the United States.      

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Molestation CaseJust today an article appeared in the Australian press discussing how cruise ship passengers who fall victim to serious crime may find their cases handled in countries like the Bahamas with poor human rights records. The articles states: "More than half of the world's cruise ships are registered in Panama, Liberia and the Bahamas . . . passengers could have their case heard in countries with a poor human rights records and a history of ignoring crimes against women."

In the Disney Dream case, the shipboard video clearly shows the Disney crew member stalking the child and following her into an elevator. The child promptly reported to cruise ship security that the Disney crew member grabbed her breast and kissed her. This occurred an hour and one-half before the ship's departure time. (The Nassau Guardian erroneously reports that the incident occurred on the cruise "shortly after it left Port Canaveral.")  But Disney decided not to promptly report the crime to the Port Canaveral police, choosing instead to sail out of the U.S. jurisdiction. It reported the matter the next day to the Bahamas which permitted the crew member to fly home to India.

In an article "Police Defend Action in Cruise Ship Matter," Officer Rolle says:

"The Americans already have their laws as to how they deal with matters on-board any ship that is owed by Americans or an American company. The fact is that the individuals at the time did not wish any complaint and no one has since come forward and indicated that they wanted to make a complaint."

Rolle is wrong on both counts.

Disney Cruise Line is not an "American" company. It legally operates as the "Magical Cruise Line" and incorporated itself in the U.K. and registered its cruise ships in the Bahamas to avoid U.S. taxes, labor laws and oversight. 

Regarding the victim's alleged decision not to make a complaint, the fact is that the little girl and her Disney Cruise Sexual Assault - Child Molestationgrandmother did make a complaint to the security personnel of the Bahamian-flagged cruise ship. A victim does not have to make multiple complaints on and off the ship over multiple days. The girl cooperated in answering the security officer's questions (in tears), completing forms and identifying the Disney perpetrator. The girl and her grandmother demonstrated courage by pressing criminal charges when they should have been enjoying the beginning of a cruise of a lifetime. 

If Disney had reported the crime immediately to the police in Port Canaveral or provided the child's grandmother with the local police's telephone numbers, the case would have turned out differently. As the Brevard County Attorney General said: "the decision to prosecute that serious a crime in Florida rests with a prosecutor, not a grandmother."

Plus, there are many reasons why a child and her grandmother may have decided not to make a second complaint in the Bahamas. How was the child treated after making the first complaint?  The Disney perpetrator should have been handcuffed and taken off the cruise ship and the girl should have seen a counselor. Instead, the girl was forced to sail on the ship with the perpetrator still aboard.

The reporter investigating the crime, Tony Pipitone, said that the cruise line repeatedly provided him with false information. Did Disney also lie to the child and her grandmother?  In many cases, we see the cruise lines and police officers at the next port of call intimidate the victim's family. They tell them that they will have to travel back to port of call repeatedly for criminal hearings and trial. By the time the cruise ship arrived in Nassau, the little girl and her grandmother were undoubtedly tired and traumatized. They had not been permitted to speak with U.S. law enforcement, a social worker or counselor, or their own legal representatives.  Instead they had to deal with Disney and the Bahamas which have their own agenda to keep matters like this quiet.

Rolle is sensitive to issues of tourism. He understands the effects of crime on tourism both in the Bahamas and on Bahamian-flagged cruise ships. When a U.S. crew member was shot and killed in Nassau two weeks ago, Rolle defended himself saying "We aren’t no play-play cartoon police force." He told the Nassau Guardian "Tourism is our life blood.”  

Nassau Bahamas Paul Rolle Police Superintendent Bahamas police officer Rolle is also no stranger to Disney cruise ship controversies and protecting Disney's image. When a Disney crew member, Rebecca Coriam, disappeared from the Bahamian-flagged Disney Wonder two years ago under disturbing circumstances, it was Rolle who the Bahamas tasked with flying over to Los Angeles to briefly board the cruise ship to investigate what happened.  Rolle conducted a quickie investigation which of course exonerated Disney. The international media characterized Rolle's efforts as a "farce" designed to assist Disney in covering the matter up. 

Rolle promised the Coriam family that he would release the results of his "investigation" into their daughter's disappearance. But he has persistently refused to do so. To date, the Bahamas refuses to cooperate with the Coriam family and has kept Rolle's report secret from the family. Disney and the Bahamas have erected a wall of silence when the Coriam family seek information about Rebecca.      

With the likes of tourism-sensitive Officer Rolle responsible for official cruise ship investigations, it is no wonder that Disney refused to timely report the child molestation to the U.S. police in Port Canaveral. By sailing the crime scene over to the Bahamas, media-sensitive Disney assured that its police friends in Nassau would do nothing. Disney could then fly its child-molester employee home with Rolle's blessings.  

 

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

Photo Credit:

Top: WKMG Channel 6 in Orlando

Middle: Jim Walker

Bottom: Nassau Guardian

Warning: U.S. Citizen Murdered in Nassau - Cruise Passengers Urged to Avoid Travel to the Bahamas!

Last month we wrote an article about the crime epidemic in Nassau, Bahamas.

A newspaper in the Bahamas published an article "Cruise Ships Warn on Crime," explaining that cruise executives from Miami met with Bahamian officials about the increasing crime levels in Nassau which are no longer safe for passengers. We have written several articles about the crime problem in Nassau, including the rape of young women who go into the bars near the port, petty theft, snatch and grab robberies, and violent crime.

Nassau Bahamas Cruise Ship CrimePassengers are being warned to stay on the cruise ships when the ship calls on Nassau. Crew members have known this for years.

Newspapers today are reporting that a U.S. citizen was shot and killed when he tried to stop the robbery of another U.S. tourist visiting Nassau. The U.K. Daily Mail reports that American Kyle Bruner was murdered in the Bahamas over the weekend while attempting to help a tourist who was being mugged.

The U.S. Department of State characterizes the crime level on New Providence Island, where Nassau is located, as "critical." Snatch-and-grab’ crimes are common occurrences in Nassau. The U.S. State Department says it has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in casinos, outside hotels, and on cruise ships.

I have represented many women sexually assaulted in Nassau and on cruise ships in that port and many passengers robbed at gunpoint.  

In addition to our clients, we have learned of a wide variety of crimes against cruise passengers, including rapes against young women ashore, theft, and violent robberies. We have written several articles about the crime problem in Nassau, including sexual attacks against young women who go into the bars near the port: 

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

Cruise Passenger Beaten and Raped in Nassau - Are Royal Caribbean and Senor Frog's to Blame?

Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau

18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas
Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

Nassau Welcomes Oasis of the Seas as Bahamas' Murder Count Reaches Record-Breaking Level 

I have never written an article telling cruise passengers to avoid a port of call. I usually report on what I know and then leave it up to the passengers to decide what to so. But Nassau is flat out dangerous.  In my opinion, if you knew what the cruise lines know, you'd be crazy to take your family there. 

June 20 2013 Update:  Crime in Nassau continues. Here are recent articles:

74 year-old female U.S. diplomat assaulted and robbed Sunday morning in Nassau while walking to church.

2 tourists robbed outside Atlantis.

Tourists Robbed At Downtown Night Spot

2 tourists robbed.

It's Not Better in the Bahamas: Crime Up, Cruise Passenger Spending Down

Officials address cruises lines' crime concerns.

Bahamian Ministry of Tourism, police and cruise lines work on "white paper" to address crime in Nassau.  
 

Photo Credit:  Caribbean 360 

 

 

Bahamas Celebration Cruise Passenger Busted for Cocaine

Bahamas Celebration Cocaine Bust Cruise PassengerA newspaper in Palm Beach is reporting that a cruise ship passenger was arrested at the Port of Palm Beach after Customs and Border officials found cocaine in her luggage.

The news paper identified Mechelle Tondeleah Clarke as the passenger who sailed on the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship from the Bahamas to the port located in Riviera Beach. After arriving April 20th, Ms. Clarke handed over her suitcase to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for inspection.The officials found a package of cocaine inside a  “secret compartment” in the luggage. The package of cocaine weighed approximately 2.25 kilograms.

Clarke allegedly told authorities that she was given the package by someone in the Bahamas in exchange for between $2,000 and $3,000 for transporting the package to an address in West Palm Beach.

Smuggling cocaine on cruise ships is not uncommon.  To read other stories like this, click on "Drugs" under the "Topics" section to the lower left.

 

Photo Credit: thebahamasweekly.com

Another Cruise Crime Alert in the Bahamas!

Cruise Ship Crime Nassau BahamasYesterday it was announced at the marketing debut of Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas, that one of the ports of the new cruise ship would be Nassau in the Bahamas when it was launched in 2014.  My first reaction was that Nassau was a dangerous location to host the new Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Well today, there is a headline in a newspaper in the Bahamas "Cruise Ships Warn on Crime."  

The newspaper reports that cruise executives have met with Bahamian officials about crime levels in New Providence, and in particular downtown Nassau, escalating at a pace which is no longer safe for passengers. The concern was not just crime affecting passengers but crew members as well. 

From what we hear from cruise passengers who cruise to Nassau, it is not a particularly safe place to visit.  

We have written several articles about the crime problem in Nassau, including the rape of young women who go into the bars near the port.

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

Cruise Passenger Beaten and Raped in Nassau - Are Royal Caribbean and Senor Frog's to Blame?

Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau

18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas

Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

Nassau Welcomes Oasis of the Seas as Bahamas' Murder Count Reaches Record-Breaking Level

 

Image Credit: Tribune 242  

Cruise Ship Fires & Missing Children: Will the Bahamas Ever Release Reports?

The fire on the Carnival Triumph cruise ship is being investigated by the Bahamas because Carnival elected to register the Triumph in that country to avoid U.S. taxes, labor and safety laws. As the "flag state" for the Triumph, the Bahamas is charged with the responsibility of investigating fires, casualties and crimes on that ship. The Bahamas requested the involvement of the U.S. Coast Guard as well as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The questions arise will the Bahamas really conduct an objective and honest investigation? Will it ever release a copy of the final report into the investigation into the fire?  And if so, when?

Carnival Triumph Cruise Ship Fire In considering these questions, remember that in the last disabling fire on a Carnival cruise ship several years ago, the public has still not seen the report of the flag state. In November 2010, the Carnival Splendor caught on fire and was disabled.  Because Carnival flagged the Splendor in Panama, Panama was responsible for the official investigation. Panama called upon the U.S. Coast Guard to assist it. The Coast Guard finished its reports to the officials in Panama long ago.

The Coast Guard quickly sent out "marine safety alerts" about the design defects and construction and maintenance shortcomings in the Splendor engine room.  Remarkably, the Coast Guard did not even identify the Splendor in its alerts.

It's now going on two and one-half years later but Panama still has not released a report.

Will Panama ever release the report?  Not if Carnival doesn't want it to.

Who has authority to force Panama or the Bahamas to release a report or punish them if they refuseto do so?  No one. There is no U.S. federal oversight organization. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is toothless.  A former NTSB chairman called the IMO a "paper tiger."  This is exactly how the cruise lines want the system to work.

Two years ago, Disney youth counselor Rebecca Coriam disappeared from the Disney Wonder cruise ship.  The Bahamas was responsible for investigating the disappearance because Disney registered Disney Cruises Rebecca Coriamthe Wonder in Nassau to avoid U.S. taxes, labor and safety laws.  

The Bahamas sent a lone policeman to Los Angeles to meet the cruise ship when it returned to port. He conducted a short visit on the ship and concluded his report long ago. But the Bahamas refuses to send Rebecca's mother and father a copy of the report.  

After the Triumph was towed to Mobile, a newspaper article appeared in a Bahamian newspaper that the Bahamas was sending detectives to the U.S. to investigate a sexual assault on the Triumph. The Bahamas denied that the ship where the rape was alleged was the Triumph. It disclosed only that a Bahamian flagged ship was involved. The Bahamas promised to provide information once its detectives returned from the U.S. Of course, it has released nothing.    

If your child vanishes on the high seas, or you are raped during a cruise, or your family flounders for a week on a stinky fire-stricken ship, flag states like the Bahamas and Panama don't believe that they have any obligation to release any information to you.  Their alliances are with the cruise lines which fly their flags. Companies like Carnival and Disney hide behind the foreign flags and are complicit in the conspiracy to deceive the public.

It's a dishonest, secretive, rotten system.  Its a system designed to conceal the truth and to avoid the foreign flagged cruise lines from embarrassment.  

Sex Attack Alleged On Carnival Cruise Ship

Carnival Cruise Ship RapeJust when you think that things could not get any worse for Carnival, news is just breaking that authorities are investigating what is being characterized as a "sex attack" on a Carnival cruise ship. 

A newspaper in the Bahamas is reporting that a team of of detectives from Nassau to Galveston, Texas yesterday to investigate an alleged sexual assault that occurred on a Carnival cruise ship.

The newspaper identified the cruise ship as the Triumph, which has remained in the headlines after it caught fire and had to be towed back to port.  However, the Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) reportedly stated that the incident did not involve the Triumph.  The BMA said that it was investigating a Bahamian registered vessel but not the Triumph. The BMA did not even acknowledge that they were investigating a cruise ship. 

The country of the Bahamas is responsible for investigating fires and collisions as well as crimes which occur on cruise ships flying the flag of the Bahamas.

Here's what the Bahamian newspaper is reporting: 

While the Bahamas Maritime Authority is leading the investigation into what caused the fire, detectives from the Royal Bahamas Police Force are also investigating a sexual offence claim, Assistant Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson said yesterday.

“We send some officers to Texas to head up the investigation. The ship is a Bahamian Flag Ship so wherever something happens we have to tend it. The officers went over there this morning and should be back sometime tomorrow. They are investigating a sexual offence matter that happened on the cruise. We should have some more information tomorrow on the matter.”

A statement is also expected from the Maritime Authority, according to London Representative Dwain Hutchinson. He said an investigation is underway and a statement will be released to the press “soon.”

Carnival flags six of its ships in the Bahamas, including the Destiny, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, Sensation and the Triumph.

Sexual assaults on cruise ships are one of the cruise industry's nastiest secrets.  We have attended several Congressional hearings which have studied the problem. There has been expert testimony before Congress that the risk of being raped at sea on a cruise ship is twice that of being attacked ashore.  

February 18, 2013 Update:  Carnival say that the incident but it does not appear to be related to any Carnival ships.

Disney Dream Rescues Two Boaters in the Bahamas

Disney Dream Cruise Ship RescueA number of news stations in Florida are reporting on the rescue of two boaters by the crew of the Disney Dream cruise ship.

The incident happened on Wednesday as the cruise ship was sailing in Bahamian water at the end of the cruise 

WKMG 6 reports the Disney Dream responded to a distress signal and launched a lifeboat to bring two people stranded on a small pleasure craft on board. Disney officials said the two needed medical attention, food and water but are expected to be okay. 

The ship returned to Port Canaveral on yesterday morning with the two people on board.

The Orlando Sentinel also covered the story and stated that the two boaters were U.S. citizens. The stranded vessel was registered in Florida.

Passengers on the cruise ship took photographs of the rescue.  

Disney Dream Cruise Ship Rescue

Photo credit:

Top - Matt Crawford via WKMG 6

Bottom - Dan Tressler, II via Orlando Sentinel

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.

MSC Eugenia Leaked Ten Tons of Oil in Bahamian Waters

The Panama-flagged and Italian-operated container ship MSC Eugenia leaked oil while leaving Freeport Harbor in the Grand Bahama island en route to Port Everglades earlier in the week. The ship returned to the port and berthed. Reportedly more than 10 tons of oil has leaked, although the source of the leak has not been disclosed. 

Today the Freeport News reported that tar balls have been discovered on Coral Beach in the Bahamas. Tourists experienced tar on their hands and feet after walking on the sand or swimming in the ocean. 

The Eugenia apparently went into drydock to repair the leak and subsequently departed the Bahamas and is currently in South Florida.

MSC is one of the largest shipping companies in the world and also operates cruise ships.

MSC Eugenia Leak Oil Bahamas 

Photo credit: MSC Eugenia - Minería Chilena

Cruise Passenger Drowns in Bahamas

Yesterday a U.S. cruise passenger drown in Grand Bahama during a cruise visit. The Eleutheran News reports that the passenger was age 61 and was from Pennsylvania. She was snorkeling with a family member and other cruise guests. The name of the cruise line and cruise ship was not released. 

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.  

Bahamas Tourism Minister: Caribbean Islands Made A Mistake - Cruise Lines Now Own The Ports

A newspaper in the Bahamas published an interesting article quoting the newly appointed tourism minister, Obie Wilchcombe, in the Bahamas:  Cruise ships are " . . . floating shopping malls now, casinos and hotels. The Caribbean made a mistake 20 years ago when they didn’t limit what cruise ships could do; now the cruise ships own the towns. In Antigua and other places like that, they actually own shopping areas.”

Mr. Wilchcombe articulated what many merchants in the Bahamas and other Caribbean islands have been muttering under their breath for years.

The cruise ships have become bigger and bigger over the years, with more and more attractions being Bay Street - Nassau Bahamas - Cruise Portadded to the ships. Cruising has increasingly become an all inclusive vacation where the cruise ship is the destination itself and many passengers do not even come off of the cruise ships to shop.  The cruise ships are also sucking money out of the passengers before they come to port: “Everything is paid for ahead of time, and they just come with a few dollars in their pockets."

Mr. Wilchcombe also lamented that the cruisers who do come ashore have less money than before. The flood of new ships has changed the type of people (i.e., less affluent) who walk up and down Bay Street in Nassau.  

His goal is to attract a greater number of tourists to come to the Bahamas by air, who will stay in and eat at Bahamian owned hotels and restaurants.  

We wish Mr. Wilchcombe good luck with that.  Unfortunately, the cruise industry has benefited from its predatory relationship with the little Caribbean islands for many decades.  

Miami-based cruise lines enjoy a tax free income many times greater than the GNP of the Bahamas or any Caribbean country for that matter.  With few independent or sustainable industries, the Bahamas need the cruise lines far more than the cruise lines need it. Unrealistically low head taxes, deterioration of the port's infrastructure, unfair fees to shore-side excursions vendors, and cruise tourists who have already emptied their pockets on the cruise ships are signs of a master-servant relationship that continues to exploit the beautiful islands and people in the Caribbean. 

 

History of Bay Street and the Bahamas interest you?  Consider reading:

"Whose Bay Street? Competing Narratives of Nassau’s City Centre

I’se a Man: Political Awakening and the 1942 Riot in the Bahamas

 

Photo Credit: Liquid Latitudes

Sewage Spews From Sinks & Erupts From Drains Aboard Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship

The Palm Beach Post News / WPTV reports that ten passengers aboard the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship  experienced a cruise they will never forget.

Raw sewage was coming out of sinks and overflowing from the shower drains. The mess leached out into the bathroom floors and into the hallway.  One young woman said: "It was brown and disgusting, and the smell was unmistakable."

Another passenger took photographs showing "brown sludge oozing out of each drain, including the sink and the shower."

E-coli with your water anyone?  

 

 

The last time the Bahamas Celebration cruise ship was in the news was when a woman from Canada disappeared while cruising with her boyfriend.   

Congress Studies Cruise Ship Safety While Passenger Disappears From Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship

While the U.S. Congress addressed the safety of the foreign flagged cruise industry today in Washington D.C., a passenger disappeared from a cruise ship sailing between the Bahamas and Florida.

ABC News reports this evening that a Canadian woman in her 40's disappeared during a Celebration line cruise aboard the Bahamas Celebration between the Grand Bahama island and Florida.  The woman was reported missing by her boyfriend at 8 AM this morning.  He told the police and FBI that he last saw his girlfriend at the cruise ship's gift shop before heading to the casino at around 1 AM and then retiring to their cabin to sleep

Missing Passenger Bahamas Celebration After the cruise ship docked at the Port of Palm Beach at 7 AM, he awoke and and searched the ship but could not find her.  At around 8 AM, the ship's crew and Coast Guard searched the cruise without success. 

According to ABC, the Coast Guard believes the woman was on the ship when it left Freeport at around 8 PM Tuesday night, because every passenger must swipe a card to get on the cruise ship.

The issue of cruise passengers and crew who "disappear" during cruises is a problem which the cruise industry has failed to adequately address. 

Australia's popular television program Dateline aired a cruise special today about missing passengers & crewmembers and crime at sea.

Well over 150 passengers and crew have disappeared from cruise ships over the last decade.

The cruise industry claims that it has an "incredibly safe" record.  

If you have information about this disappearance, please leave a comment below. 

Update: The passenger has been identified as Fariba Amani from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Robbing Cruise Passengers in Bulk - Yes, It Happens!

Yesterday I talked about the recent armed robbery of 22 Carnival cruise passengers who were traveling in a bus back to the port in Puerto Vallarta during a Carnival sponsored excursion.

I mentioned that the cruise lines and tourism officials would quickly start a PR campaign to convince the public that robberies of large groups of passengers is rare.  But it's not.

There have been at least 100 passengers robbed at gunpoint (or machete) during excursions over the last 3 - 5 years; the majority of them were traveling in large cruise excursion groups. 

In 2007, 17 passengers from the Carnival Conquest cruise ship passengers were robbed at gunpoint during a cruise line sponsored excursion after sailing to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The excursion was to Cruise Excursion Bus - Cruise Ship Crimethe Lethe Estate, an old banana plantation.  The Carnival passengers were riding in a trolley when several bandits jumped out of the bush and robbed the 17 cruise tourists. cam. The passengers were terrorized as the gunmen pointed guns at the children on the trolley and took off with the passenger's jewelry, wallets, purses, cameras and money.  You can read the account in the USA cruise blog here.

Since I started Cruise Law News two and one-half years ago, I have reported on 4 armed robberies of cruise tourists in groups between 11 and 18 people. 

In November 2010, 17 Celebrity cruise passengers were robbed at gunpoint in a tour bus.  While the buds was heading toward a historic site, rocks and branches were strewn across the bus' path.  When the bus stopped, armed robbers threw a large rock into the front window and rushed into the bus and robbed the excursion group. 

In December 2009, 14 NCL passengers were robbed during a "safari" excursion in Anese-La-Reye by 4 masked men armed with guns and knives. The robbery occurred at beautiful waterfall advertised as a "perfect place to spend several hours in quiet reflection." 

In October 2009, a Bahamian newspaper reported that two "vicious robbers" held a group of 11 terrified cruise passengers from a Royal Caribbean ship by gunpoint in Nassau.

In November 2099, 18 cruise passengers were robbed during an excursion in the Bahamas during an excursion into a remote natural preserve.  The passengers were part of a large Segway excursion which contained passengers from Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise ships.  

In addition to these incidents, there are dozens of other robberies of smaller groups, involving couples and families, which occur while the passengers are ashore.

When cruise experts and the tourism bureaus in Mexico and the Caribbean islands tell you that such crimes are "rare," take the time to educate yourself.  Don't trust your family's safety on representations from those who are trying to sell a product.  As the saying goes, those who don't learn history are doomed to repeat it. 

MSC Poesia Destroys Reef in the Bahamas - Cruise Ship with 26' Draft Sailed Into 15' Waters

The MSC Poesia cruise ship ran aground into a reef in the Bahamas this weekend while sailing to  Port Lucaya near Freeport, Bahamas.

The 93,000-ton cruise ship needs twenty-five feet of draft but sailed into only fifteen (15) feet of water.  The video below show that the vessel ground into and destroyed a substantial length of the fragile reef.

Several tugs were called to prevent the cruise ship from further grinding into the reef as the wind tried to push the vessel into more shallow water. 

MSC was not able to get off the reef until high tide.  According to Cruise Radio where I first learned of the grounding, the incident did not stop the cruise ship from tendering cruise passengers to Port Lucaya.  Ed Owen who writes for the Examiner also was one of the first to report on this incident.

Were you on the Poesia when it ran aground?  Do you have photos, video or comments to share? 

 

 

Video credit:   YouTube (Fredgbscuba) 

Fires Breaks Out On Bahamas Celebration Cruise Ship

A local news station in Palm Beach Florida reports that a fire broke out yesterday on a Palm Beach-based cruise ship in the Bahamas.

WPBF Channel 25 reports that the fire occurred Bahamas Celebration cruise ship.  The cruise ship operates between Palm Beach and Freeport, Bahamas.  According to Wikipedia, the cruise ship is available for cruises to be purchased directly from Celebration Cruise Lines; however, it is primarily used as a lure by time share companies to attract clientele. 

Bahamas Celebration - Cruise Ship FireThe report indicates that the crew doused the fire themselves and no Coast Guard crews were called to the ship.

The ship is expected to return to the Port of Palm Beach this morning.  No one was reported injured.

There is no explanation regarding the cause or the extent of the fire.  The cruise ship is operated by the Celebration Cruise Line

The ship was previously known as the Princesse Ragnild.  It entered service in 1981 and was owned by Jahre Lines until 1991.  From 1991 until 2008, it was operated by the Color Line.

This is not the first fire on the cruise ship. On July 8 1999, a fire erupted in the engine room resulting in the evacuation of the ship. After repairs in Germany, ship resumed operations in September 1999. On March 1,  2002, the cruise ship experienced another engine room fire, which was quickly extinguished.

If you were on the cruise or know what happened regarding this latest fire, please leave a comment below.

December 13, 2001 Update: The Freeport News reports today that the Bahamas Celebration avoided a "potentially disastrous situation" after a fire erupted in the engine room of the ship some four miles off Grand Bahama early Monday morning.  The vessel was hauled into the harbor in Freeport by tugboats.

Seven-hundred-seven passengers and a crew of 300 plus were on-board the ship as it came into the harbor where a fire truck and an ambulance were stationed.

The fire was caused by generator number three which threw a rod and oil caught fire.

The newspaper reports that the fire was ultimately contained within 25 minutes and nobody on-board was injured.

The remaining generators were then shut down deliberately. 

The crew and passengers were led up to deck nine. Some of the passengers were quoted as describing the incident as "unsettling" and  "nerve-racking." 

A cruise line representatives called the incident a "minor fire." 

The cruise ship's engine will require a complete overhaul because a lot of cables which melted need to be replaced. 

 

Photo credit:  maritimematters.com

Atlantis Jet-Ski Accident in Nassau: Was A Carnival Cruise Passenger Killed?

A number of readers of our blog have contacted us asking for information about a jet ski mishap where a cruise passenger apparently died in the Bahamas on November 24th.

The incident reportedly occurred after the cruise passenger rented a jet ski at the Atlantis resort in Nassau.  The passenger had sailed to Nassau aboard the Carnival Magic cruise ship.

There are no news accounts regarding the incident which we have been able to find.  

One reader wrote to us saying: 

" . . . I think it would be good to have more openness so that people can make better informed decisions about activities when they go on vacation. I think it's atrocious that it is obviously being covered up. I also checked all avenues before I wrote you a note. It is real but I don't know how to get the information out."

The U.S. Department of State has the following warning about water sports rentals in the Bahamas:

"The water sports and scooter rental industries in The Bahamas are not carefully regulated.  Every year people are killed or injured due to improper, careless, or reckless operation of scooters, jet-skis, and personal watercraft or scuba/snorkeling equipment.  Visitors should rent equipment only from reputable operators, and should insist on sufficient training before using the equipment. There have been reports that some operators do not actually provide insurance coverage even when the renter opted (and paid) for insurance coverage.  Visitors should insist on seeing proof that operators have sufficient medical and liability insurance."

There are lots of articles on line about jet ski accidents in the Bahamas, including this article dating back to 2004. 

If you were on the Magic and have information about this incident, please leave a comment below.

November 30, 2011 Update:

A reader left a comment below and alerted us that there is a video from the Bahamas about the incident.  The victim was apparenty 47 years old and from Texas. 

 

 

Video credit:  Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas

Accused Royal Caribbean Cruises Rapist Sues Bahamas for Spending Four Nights in Jail After Acquital

One of the categories I have for my Cruise Law News blog is "weird cruise news." 

Why such a category? 

For stories just like this:

Soveriegn of the Seas Cruise Ship - RapeThe Nassau Guardian published an article today about a Royal Caribbean crewmember, employed as a stateroom attendant, who was accused of raping a young woman on Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas cruise ship. 

The incident involved a student from Florida State University who reported being raped back in 2006 on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship while it was docked in Nassau. 

The accused crewmember was Ruel Lockwood from Nicaragua.  He entered the young woman's cabin with a key card, which he used to enter cabins to clean them.

Why Royal Caribbean lets single men have key cards to women's cabins on their cruise ships remains an unpleasant mystery for me. 

I was young Jane Doe's Miami counsel, appointed by the Washington D.C. law firm of Winston & Strawn to act as co-counsel for Jane Doe after the shipboard rape.

The job of prosecutors in foreign countries of convincing juries to convict a cruise ship employee for raping an American woman is a daunting task, especially when the cruise line sent its defense lawyers to Nassau to assist the Bahamian criminal defense lawyers defend the case - which we alleged in the lawsuit filed against Royal Caribbean.

Yes, as expected, the jury in the Bahamas acquitted the cruise line employee accused of the rape.  The legitimacy of the verdict should be considered with the fact that Royal Caribbean paid $1,500,000.00 to settle the civil case where we alleged that the crewmember raped our client.

In my opinion, cruise lines don't pay that type of compensation if a rape did not occur.

Now here comes the weird part. 

After crewmember Lockwood was acquitted, he remained in jail for 4 days in Nassau.   For that, he sued the Bahamas for "unlawful detention."  Although he spent months and months in jail for the rape charges, he is now seeking damages for the 4 days he spent in jail after the jury acquitted him.  

Crewmember Lockwood should count his blessings for not spending the next 20 years of his life in the bowels of the Nassau jails.

Seeking compensation for 4 days in jail after his "acquittal" of raping an innocent coed during a cruise is a sick joke.

 

Photo Credit:  usscusk.com

Bahamian Cruise Passengers Defrauded By Travel Agent & Mistreated By Carnival Cruise Line

This weekend, the Freeport News reported on  the saga of a well respected Bahamian family who purchased a cruise through a travel agent for 39 family members to sail with Carnival Cruise Lines on the Carnival Freedom cruise ship. 

Written by reporter Yasmin Popescu, the newspaper article reports on what it described as a family "torn apart" because of the fraudulent conduct of a local travel agent and the harsh conduct of the cruise line. 

Jim Walker - Cruise Law - Freeport BahamasThe story involves the Edden family of Smith's Point in Freeport which went through what is described as a "vacation from hell."

Thirty nine family members ranging from age 4 to age 71 had booked the Carnival cruise through Morris Travel which issued Carnival Fun Ship cards but actually never paid the cruise line for all of their fares. 

The large extended family flew from Freeport to Fort Lauderdale to meet the cruise ship the following day.  However once they arrived at the port, the family faced problems.  Carnival told many of the family members that they didn't have confirmed reservations.  Many of the family members were separated from their family members, including children, who were frightened by the ill treatment.   Carnival representatives treated them like they were criminals and threatened to take their mug shots and finger-print them and turn them over to the police.  

Jacy Whittaker - Freeport Bahamas LawyerTen of the family members were taken away from the check in area and forced to sit behind a cordoned off area, which subjected them to the scrutiny of and ridicule from other passengers.   

Carnival left these ten family members at the port terminal while the remaining twenty-none family members left on the cruise.  Carnival did not provide any explanation for the mistreatment, leaving them abandoned at the port without any transportation or accommodations. They were separated from the family and crying when the cruise ship sailed without them.

For the family members who Carnival permitted to board the cruise ship, many of them did not receive the type of cabins they booked.  One one young woman in a wheelchair with spina bifada was forced to leave her wheelchair outside of the non-accessible cabin and crawl into the cabin and in and out of the bathroom.

After sailing for five days, Carnival finally discovered that one of the credit card used by the travel agent was fraudulent.  Carnival then treated the family members like they were criminals.  It demanded $17,000 immediately.  Carnival belittled them and threatened arrest once they returned to South Florida. 

Carnival also told them that they would not be permitted to leave the cruise ship when it called on Nassau because the cruise line was afraid that they would flee and not return to the ship.  Carnival insisted that it confiscate their passports if they decided to go into Nassau. 

Roberto Villasante - Miami LawyerFortunately, a former Member of Parliament in the Bahamas, David Wallace, kept the family group from being arrested or being held on the ship. 

When they returned to Ft. Lauderdale, the family members felt that they would be arrested and taken to jail.

Once back home in Freeport, the family hired prominent Bahamian lawyer, Jacy Whittaker (above left), of the law firm of Parris | Whittaker to represent their interests.

Mr. Whittaker retained our firm as well as high profile Miami lawyer Roberto Villasante (photo right) to investigate legal action against Carnival for its outrageous mistreatment of the family during the cruise.

On Friday, we met with some of the aggrieved family members, from little children to grandparents.  A photograph I took of the family members is below.

Freeport reporter Yasmin Popescu took the photo at the top of me interviewing some of the family members. 

Ms. Popescu has covered this story from the beginning.  An earlier article can be read here.

Jacy Whittaker and Edden Family - Freeport Bahamas  
 

My cruise travel agent friend Chris Owens wrote an article about the debacle in July:

"Be Sure Your Cruise Travel Agent Is Not A Crook"

Cruise Passenger Disappears on Jet Ski In Nassau, Bahamas

The Nassau Guardian reports that a cruise ship passenger went missing sometime Saturday after he left a Paradise Island beach on a rented jet ski and did not return.  The newspaper reports that the U.S. Embassy has been notified of the passenger's disappearance, and that two friends who accompanied the passenger on the cruise left with the ship.

The Bahamas Tribune also reports on the story and states that the missing passenger is a 32 year old man from West Chester, Ohio, was last seen on the jet ski which he rented on Cabbage Beach at around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Missing Cruise Passenger - Nassau Bahamas - Jet SkiPolice informed the Tribune that the passenger arrived in Nassau on the Carnival Imagination cruise ship at around 10:45 a.m. on Saturday, and was reported missing at 10.30pm.

His wife, identified as Cincinnati resident Sonia Wells, called and reported her husband missing.

Officers from various police, airforce and marine agencies reportedly searched the area where the passenger disappeared without success. 

The U.S. Department of State has the following warning about water sports rentals in the Bahamas:

"The water sports and scooter rental industries in The Bahamas are not carefully regulated.  Every year people are killed or injured due to improper, careless, or reckless operation of scooters, jet-skis, and personal watercraft or scuba/snorkeling equipment.  Visitors should rent equipment only from reputable operators, and should insist on sufficient training before using the equipment. There have been reports that some operators do not actually provide insurance coverage even when the renter opted (and paid) for insurance coverage.  Visitors should insist on seeing proof that operators have sufficient medical and liability insurance."

Nathan You can read about other jet ski accidents in the Bahamas here

"Jet Ski Operators Defend Industry After Death" explains some of the problems with renting jet skis in the Bahamas.

June 7, 2011 Update:  Newspapers and television stations in Ohio are reporting that the missing passenger is Nathan ("Nate") Wells, from West Chester Ohio, married with one daughter.  The jet ski was located in the waters off of Nassau.  He had cruised to Nassau with two friends.  In additionto the Bahamian authorities, the U.S. Coast Guard is searching for him. 

WLWT television in Cincinnati has a video interview with friends and family about Mr. Wells.  

Carnival Passenger Killed on Jet Ski in the Bahamas

Multiple news stations are reporting today that a passenger from the Carnival Sensation cruise ship was fatally injured while in a serious accident involving a jet ski rented during a port call in Nassau. 

A second passenger sustained injuries and is recovering at a hospital in Nassau. 

Carnival states that the cruise passengers rented the jet ski directly from a local vendor.  The U.S. Department of State has the following warning about water sports rentals in the Bahamas:

"The water sports and scooter rental industries in The Bahamas are not carefully regulated.  Every year people are killed or injured due to improper, careless, or reckless operation of scooters, jet-skis, and personal watercraft or scuba/snorkeling equipment.  Visitors should rent equipment only from reputable operators, and should insist on sufficient training before using the equipment. There have been reports that some operators do not actually provide insurance coverage even when the renter opted (and paid) for insurance coverage.  Visitors should insist on seeing proof that operators have sufficient medical and liability insurance."

Carnival flew a "care team" from Miami to provide assistance to the passengers' families.  Carnival issued a statement: "All of us are deeply saddened by this event and extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of those involved."

May 10th Update:

Accident like this are not isolated incidents.  BahamasB2B.com has the following story entitled "Another Bahamas Tourist Dies on a Jet Ski:"

"The continued failure of the Bahamas government to enforce jet-ski regulations might possibly be viewed as criminal negligence.

A female tourist from the United States died in a horrific jet-ski accident in Nassau Harbour around 5:00pm on Saturday.

The 27-year-old woman from Florida, and a male companion also in his late 20s, had rented a jetski after arriving in Nassau on a Carnival Cruise ship.

The pair was riding the jet-ski in Nassau Harbour when they crashed into a boat near the entrance of the harbour, off the Montagu Foreshore.

Despite efforts by paramedics, the woman died almost immediately upon arriving at the hospital.

Her male companion is in serious condition after suffering head injuries.

Police investigations are underway as police try to figure out who was actually driving the jet-ski, where they acquired the vehicle and the circumstances leading up to the deadly accident.

Concerns over the dangers of jet-skis and other watersports have been ignored for years by the Bahamas Government, depsite numeorus deaths and serious injuries.

There is a poorly enforced law that requires jet-ski operators to provide a 15-minute training session to anyone interested in renting a jet-ski. However, that is rarely done and never enforced.

The names of the victims have not yet been released."

You can read about other jet ski accidents in the Bahamas here

"Jet Ski Operators Defend Industry After Death" explains some of the problems with renting jet skis in the Bahamas.

Senor Frog's Comments on Crime Against Cruise Passenger in Nassau

Today, we received the following statement from Senor Frog's in Nassau, about our articles "Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe?" and "Cruise Passenger Beaten and Raped in Nassau - Are Royal Caribbean and Senor Frog's to Blame?

"We, at Senor Frogs, are deeply saddened, concerned and disturbed by this news.

Senor Frogs is part of a chain of restaurants that has been operating for 40 years in tourist destinations. Our number one priority has always been and, continues to be, the well-being and safety of our guests. We take every step necessary to ensure the safety of guests within our premises. Unfortunately, our jurisdiction ends at the front door and we cannot see where each guest goes after they leave. We are aware of the situation being reported and have been providing all assistance to the Bahamian Government and Royal Bahamian Police in this case.

Senor Frogs has several security officers on-site. Some security members are off duty police officers. In addition, there is a small police station approximately 20 feet from our front entrance. The Bahamian Government assists us by sending police officers to patrol inside and around Senor Frogs restaurant, in addition to several other businesses.

Each of our Floor Managers has 10 – 20 years of experience, working in this environment. As I mentioned before, our priority is to safeguard our guests, in addition to providing high quality service and products.

We have 32 closed circuit cameras within Senor Frog’s premises. We reviewed the tapes for this incident and spoke with our security staff that witnessed the guest leaving. They reported, and the tapes confirm, that on that particular day, the guest that was involved in the incident was seen leaving Senor Frogs through the front entrance walking normal and not intoxicated. A male who did not appear to be intoxicated accompanied her. The male appeared to be another tourist. No flags were raised because there was no aggression, despair or any abnormal activity that would cause us to think something was wrong. They left the premises walking fine and in a friendly manner.

After leaving Senor Frogs, we have no information about where the guest went. For that information, you would need to contact the Police Department or Bahamas Government.

We are very concerned by these reports and will continue to ensure the safety of our guests. We also know that the Bahamian Government is concerned and is making great efforts to ensure tourists are safe while visiting Nassau.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the guest who was violated."

Cruise Lines Skip Papua and Mazatlan, But Sail Passengers to Nassau - the Cruise Crime Capital of the World

This past week, the news has been filled with stories of cruise lines canceling calls to ports around the world because of concerns for their passengers' safety. 

Carnival, Disney and Holland America Lines announced that they would no longer sail to Mazatlan because of violence in this Mexican city.  Carnival called the decision a "precautionary measure," noting that "there have been no incidents involving cruise passengers."

Royal Caribbean Cruises said that its Rhapsody of the Seas will not call on Port Moresby in Papua, New Guinea because of concerns for the safety of cruise passengers.  But  according to an Nassau Bhamas Crime - Cruise Ships - Robbery - Rapeinterview with a local tour operator in Papua, "no tourist that I heard in my lifetime taking tours around in Port Moresby have been rolled or have been attacked or been murdered."  Royal Caribbean says the latest visit was canceled "in an abundance of caution."

"Precautionary measures" and an "abundance of caution?"  If these are the governing standards for canceling cruises to violent ports, then what explanation do the cruise lines have for disembarking their passengers in Nassau? 

Yesterday, the Tribune, one of the leading newspaper in Nassau, blared the headline "66 Armed Robbery Victims in 2 Months."  At the same time, the other major newspaper, the Nassau Guardian headlined "Cruise Sector Not Expecting Decline in Business," reporting that cruise passenger arrivals grew by six per cent in 2010, continuing the rapid growth experienced over the past 40 years, with the numbers climbing from just over one million cruise visits in 1970 to over 20 million last year." 

The Bahamas has the highest incidence of rape in the Caribbean according to a 2007 United Nations report on crime and violence.  But this is not an academic statistic.  It's real.  Earlier this week, we reported on a young cruise passenger who was beaten and raped in downtown Nassau near the cruise wharf. 

The last year and one-half has seen an epidemic of crime against cruise tourists.  We were the first publication in the U.S. to report on Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau and 18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas.  We have also written about Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues and Nassau Welcomes Oasis of the Seas as Bahamas' Murder Count Reaches Record-Breaking Level.

If the cruise lines are acting responsibly in avoiding a port like Mazatlan because of the potential for violence against passengers, then why are cruise lines sailing their ships into a dangerous port in the Bahamas where unsuspecting guests have actually been robbed and raped?

 

Photo credit:  BahamasPress.com

Cruise Passenger Beaten and Raped in Nassau - Are Royal Caribbean and Senor Frog's to Blame?

A horrific crime occurred in Nassau involving a twenty-four year old Canadian woman cruising to the Bahamas. 

"Jane Doe" (whose name is being withheld to protect her confidentiality) cruised aboard Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas from Miami, leaving February 21st.   Jane Doe sailed with her father and friends.  The cruise ship docked in Nassau on February 23rd. 

While ashore the group ended up at Senor Frog's, a popular local bar, early in the evening.  Senor Frogs is located at the end of a promenade called the "Woods Rogers Walk," near the Straw Market, close to the wharf where the cruise ships dock. 

Senor Frog's - Sexual Assault - Nassau Bahamas After leaving the bar to head back to the cruise ship, the young woman was viciously attacked and sustained physical injuries.  Looking for help, Jane Doe was then sexually assaulted by a second man (pretending to be a good samaritan) who raped her.  She treated in a local hospital in Nassau and then eventually flew home to Canada to recover.

The high crime rate in Nassau is an issue which I have written about frequently on this blog.  We have represented and written about many cruise passengers raped or robbed at gun point in Nassau.  The Bahamas has the highest incidence of rape in the Caribbean according to a 2007 United Nations report on crime and violence.  

Cruise lines are legally obligated to warn passengers of crimes in the ports of call where the cruise ships sail.  Unfortunately, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean do not warn of violence against passengers before disembarking them in Nassau, although the U.S. State Department does.  A year ago,  I was interviewed by Time Magazine in the article "Cruise-Ship Port Call: Gauging Crime in the Bahamas."  I also  wrote an article warning about violence against women in bars ashore in Nassau.  The article is entitled Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe? 

In response to the article, we received a letter from Senor Frog's requesting the: 

".  .  .  immediate removal of our front entrance picture and name from your website. We feel that your website has a negative impact togards (sic) our facility and our pictures and name has been used causing damage to our name and reputation, regardless of the crime in the bahamas.  Senor Frogs Restaurant is a serious stablishment (sic) pro-security we have daily security staff plus the fact that our location is just 1 minute walking distance to a police station our staff always ensure that customers are safe and having a good time we have zero tolerance to crime or disrespectful manners."   

Needless to say, we did not retract the reference to Senor Frog's or omit the photo. 

We requested a comment from Senor Frog's about this latest incident, and a copy of its response is referenced below. 

We also contacted Royal Caribbean for a statement but have received no response. 

Below is our article dated March 14, 2010, "Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe?"

The U.S. Department of State has issued a warning of dangers while traveling to the Bahamas, including sexual assaults on cruise ships in the port in Nassau:

Nassau Bahamas - Crime - Cruise Passengers"CRIME: The Bahamas has a high crime rate .  .  .  the U.S. Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships. In several incidents the victim had reportedly been drugged."  

This type of warning, although certainly warranted, is not what the Bahamas wants to hear.  Nassau is a preferred port of call for many cruise ships, which line up like cars in a crowded parking lot.  

Today's the headline in the Washington Post's travel section is also not what the Bahamas or the cruise lines which sail there wanted to hear: "Violent Crime Is Up In The Bahamas"  Here is a portion of the article:

"Bahamas-bound travelers, beware.

Crime in the popular tourist destination is on the upswing, especially on New Providence Island, where the capital city, Nassau, is located. And we're not talking just petty thefts or purse-snatching, but far more serious violent crime.

This island nation finished 2009 with a record 87 murders -- a statistic tourism officials probably won't be trumpeting in their next "It's Better in the Bahamas" ad  .  .  .

The criminal activity has prompted the operators of the world's largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, to warn its passengers to "be mindful of their personal safety," the Nassau Guardian newspaper reported  .   .   .

Some Bahamians attribute the crime wave to high unemployment (hovering around 15 percent on Senor Frog's - Nassau Bahamas - Alcohol - Rape New Providence Island, according to the Guardian) and the nation's status as a gathering spot for drug traffickers."

We have warned passengers cruising to Nassau about crime for the past 6 months:

Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau 

18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas

Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

Nassau Welcomes Oasis of the Seas as Bahamas' Murder Count Reaches Record-Breaking Level

The problem with crime in Nassau is real.  Many passengers let their guard down and think Nassau is safe for no reason other than the cruise line is sailing there.  But we have represented passengers raped in Nassau, passengers raped on cruise ships in the port in Nassau, and multiple passengers robbed in Nassau.   

A major problem is when young women go into Nassau and drink at the popular bars near where the cruise ships dock.  Many women have been sexually assaulted after leaving the bar even though it is a short distance from the cruise ships.  The cruise lines do not provide security at the port nor do they warn about the dangers of date rape drugs and sexual assaults while in Nassau.

The U.S. Department of State warns about young women being sexually assaulted after leaving the cruise ships in Nassau:  

"Visitors should exercise caution and good judgment at all times.  Engaging in high-risk behavior such as excessive consumption of alcohol can ultimately be dangerous as it greatly increases the vulnerability of an individual to accidents or opportunistic crime.  Visitors should not accept rides from strangers or from unlicensed taxi drivers."   

March 9, 2011 Update:  Senor Frog's in Nassau sent us a statement today  - please read: Senor Frog's Comments on Crime Against Cruise Passenger in Nassau.

August 15, 2012 Update: Royal Caribbean Passenger Reports Rape at Senor Frog's in Cozumel.

September 8, 2012 Update:  Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals: Cruise Lines Have Duty to Warn of Danger of Crime in Ports of Call - a federal appellate court re-instates a lawsuit against a cruise line for not warning its passengers of danger in St. Thomas. The case involved a 15 year old girl who was celebrating her quinceanera with her parents and brother on a Carnival cruise. A gang-related shoot out ended up with the girl being killed.     

 

Credits:

Top photo - interior of Senor Frog's looking at cruise ships    

Middle photo - Oasis of the Seas - Nassau Bahamas Press

Bottom photo - Senor Frogs Casch52 Flickr photostream

Crimes in the Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call

I have written many articles about the high crime rates in many of the Caribbean islands frequented by cruise lines - Crime in Caribbean Ports of Call Against Cruise Passengers.  Consider the following articles in the last year alone: 

Antigua - Cruise Passengers Attacked & Robbed in Antigua While Cruise and Tourism Officials Meet and Passenger From Star Clippers Murdered in Antigua

Bahamas 18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the BahamasEleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau, and Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe?

Guatemala - Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala  

Mexico -  Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines Pull Ships From L.A. Due To Crime In Mexico

St. Lucia - Norwegian Cruise Line Drops St. Lucia and 14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia

St. Thomas - More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

 

Cruise lines have port agents in all of these destinations and are familiar with the crime which exists in these beautiful, tropical locations.  Do you think that cruise lines should warn passengers of the substantial dangers which exist in the ports they select to disembark their passengers?

Cruise Ships and Crime in the Bahamas

TIME Magazine just published an article entitled Cruise Ship Port Call: Gauging Crime on the Bahamas. 

Time addresses the November 2009 armed robbery of cruise ship passengers during Segway shore excursions in Nassau, Bahamas.  Cruise Law News was the first one in the U.S. to report on the robbery in our article - 18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas.

TIME comments that "none of the passengers were injured, and all were compensated by the cruise lines."  Unfortunately, this is not true.  Several of the passengers were physically injured, being hit and kicked, and one of the robbers discharged his shotgun hear the head of a woman lying in the ground.  Many on the tour were emotionally traumatized.  No Royal Caribbean passengers were compensated for their injuries.

Aside from this inaccuracy, the article correctly concludes that crime is on the rise in the Bahamas and explains that tourists are now being targeted.   

The Bahamian government sent TIME statistics detailing crime against tourists in 2009, showing only one murder and 19 cases of armed robbery — 18 of which came in the single November Segway excursion robbery.  This statistics are incomplete.

The Bahamas did not tell TIME about another crime spree we wrote about - Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau.   We have also represented women raped in Nassau and are aware of other tourists robbed in Nassau.

Crime during cruises is an issue which neither the cruise lines nor the tourist dependent Caribbean islands like to discuss.  It's disappointing see the Bahamas tourism officials covering up the facts like this.

The Tourism Minister in the Bahamas recently took cruise line officials on a tour of the country to show that there are increased police patrols and closed circuit television cameras have been installed in areas of downtown Nassau.  The Nassau Guardian explains that tourism officials are trying to reassure the cruise line that it's sate to bring their guests to Nassau.  

TIME also mentions to "steer clear of Jamaica. Experts agree that it's currently the most dangerous country in the Caribbean."

Bahamas Crime - Cruise Passengers 

For other stories about crime in the Caribbean, read:

Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe?

Nassau Welcomes Oasis of the Seas as Bahamas' Murder Count Reaches Record-Breaking Level

Crime in Caribbean Ports of Call Against Cruise Passengers

Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News

14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia

Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala

 

Credits:

Newspaper article    bahamasuncensored.com

Cruising To The Bahamas - Is It Safe?

The U.S. Department of State has issued a warning of dangers while traveling to the Bahamas, including sexual assaults on cruise ships in the port in Nassau:

Nassau Bahamas - Crime - Cruise Passengers"CRIME: The Bahamas has a high crime rate .  .  .  the U.S. Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, in diverse areas such as in casinos, outside hotels, or on cruise ships. In several incidents the victim had reportedly been drugged."  

This type of warning, although certainly warranted, is not what the Bahamas wants to hear.  Nassau is a preferred port of call for many cruise ships, which line up like cars in a crowded parking lot.  

Today's the headline in the Washington Post's travel section is also not what the Bahamas or the cruise lines which sail there wanted to hear: "Violent Crime Is Up In The Bahamas"  Here is a portion of the article:

"Bahamas-bound travelers, beware.

Crime in the popular tourist destination is on the upswing, especially on New Providence Island, where the capital city, Nassau, is located. And we're not talking just petty thefts or purse-snatching, but far more serious violent crime.

This island nation finished 2009 with a record 87 murders -- a statistic tourism officials probably won't be trumpeting in their next "It's Better in the Bahamas" ad  .  .  .

The criminal activity has prompted the operators of the world's largest cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, to warn its passengers to "be mindful of their personal safety," the Nassau Guardian Senor Frogs - Nassau Bahamas - Alcohol - Sexual Assault newspaper reported  .   .   .

Some Bahamians attribute the crime wave to high unemployment (hovering around 15 percent on New Providence Island, according to the Guardian) and the nation's status as a gathering spot for drug traffickers."

We have warned passengers cruising to Nassau about crime for the past 6 months:

Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau 

18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas

Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

Nassau Welcomes Oasis of the Seas as Bahamas' Murder Count Reaches Record-Breaking Level

The problem with crime in Nassau is real.  Many passengers let their guard down and think Nassau is safe for no reason other than the cruise line is sailing there.  But we have represented passengers raped in Nassau, passengers raped on cruise ships in the port in Nassau, and multiple passengers robbed in Nassau.   

A major problem is when young women go into Nassau and drink at the popular bars near where the cruise ships dock.  Many women have been sexually assaulted after leaving the bar even though it is a short distance from the cruise ships.  The cruise lines do not provide security at the port nor do they warn about the dangers of date rape drugs and sexual assaults while in Nassau.

The U.S. Department of State warns about young women being sexually assaulted after leaving the cruise ships in Nassau:  

"Visitors should exercise caution and good judgment at all times.  Engaging in high-risk behavior such as excessive consumption of alcohol can ultimately be dangerous as it greatly increases the vulnerability of an individual to accidents or opportunistic crime.  Visitors should not accept rides from strangers or from unlicensed taxi drivers."   

Nassau Bahamas - Crime - Cruise Passengers

 

Credits:

Oasis of the Seas - Nassau          Bahamas Press

Senor Frogs                                      Casch52 Flickr photostream

Cruise ships in Nassau                 Elenor Snow

Nassau Welcomes Oasis of the Seas as Bahamas' Murder Count Reaches Record-Breaking Level

Nassau's venerable newspaper, the Nassau Guardian, published two interesting headlines in its weekend edition.

Nassau Guardian

The first headline was "Oasis Makes Grand Arrival."

The second? "Record-Breaking Murder Count."

The newspaper reports that the arrival of Royal Caribbean's new mega-ship Oasis of the Seas brought out the Government of the Bahamas in great display. 200 government officials were in attendance as the Oasis arrived in Nassau Harbour. 

Oasis of the Seas - Nassau - BahamsPrime Minister Hubert Ingraham presided over a "Plaques and Keys" ceremony welcoming the cruise ship to the country.  The Prime Minister boarded the ship along with hundreds of government officials to meet and greet Royal Caribbean International President Adam Goldstein and the Master of the vessel, William Wright.

The newspaper also reports that the Bahamas Defense Force Band played with great fanfare, as it welcomed the 4,000 Royal Caribbean passengers into the country.

Perhaps it was only fitting that the Bahamas had a military band in attendance given the recent high profile robberies of cruise passengers.  29 passengers were robbed at gunpoint in Nassau in the last two months, including Royal Caribbean passengers who paid for cruise sponsored Oasis of the Seas - Bahamas Defense Force Bandexcursions. 

We have reported on this before in Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues.  

The newspaper quotes the new Commissioner of Police, Ellison Greenslade, that crime in the Bahamas is at a significant and unacceptable level:

"This year our country has experienced one of the highest murder rates in its entire history. Individuals are now concerned because crime has crept into our number one industry [and] the lifeblood of our economy, tourism. The Royal Bahamas Police Force is mandated to act and act we must."

The Bahamas has invested heavily into its relationship with Royal Caribbean.  It just spent over $40 million dollars to dredge the port to accommodate the cruise line's new mega-ship. 

There are around 2 million cruise passengers a year who venture into Nassau, each spending at least $100 in addition to the head taxes. 

An article in the Bahamas Tribune entitled "Welcome Oasis" suggests that the number may be as high as 2.8 million cruise passengers who enter the Bahamas. Each cruise line collect tens of millions of dollars selling excursions into the Bahamas. 

Cruise tourism in Nassau is big business.  Hundreds of millions dollars exchange hands between the U.S. passengers, the Miami based cruise lines, the Bahamian government, and the local vendors in Nassau.

But If substantial monies are not wisely invested into additional and better trained police officers to protect the cruise tourists (not to mention the citizens of the Bahamas), the headlines of the Nassau Guardian may be:

"Crime Increases" and "Oasis Makes Grand Departure."   

Oasis of the Seas - Nassau Bahamas

 

 

Credits:

Nassau Guardian                              Nassau Guardian

Bahamas Government Officials      BIS photo/Derek Smith via The Bahamas Weekly 

Bahamas Defense Force Band      Robin Whachell via the Bahamas Weekly

Oasis of the Seas                               BIS photo/Derek Smith via The Bahamas Weekly

 

Crime in Caribbean Ports of Call Against Cruise Passengers

The Chicago Sun Times has an article today regarding the impact of crime against cruise passengers in the Bahamas.  The article is entitled "Sometimes, it's not better in the Bahamas - Armed robberies in Nassau have tourists, cruise lines on the defensive."

Better in the Bahamas?  Crime against Cruise Passengers The article is by a Disney cruise passenger, Carney Milne, who took the now infamous Segway tour into the 160 acre nature preserve called "Earth Village" last month.

Ms. Milne toured the preserve with eight other passengers from Disney's cruise ship, the Wonder.  Two hooded and armed gunmen forced her and the other passengers to the ground.  She vividly describes that she was "paralyzed by fear" as one gunman pumped his shotgun and later fired a warning shot as he robbed the passengers of their valuables.

The robbers then turned their guns on nine cruise ship passengers, from Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, after they arrived on the scene riding their Segways.

After the robbery, the Bahamian police repeatedly told her that “this never happens in the Bahamas. Never.”  But after returning to the U.S., she learned that’s not true. She reports that "an almost identical mass armed robbery took place a month earlier at Queen’s Staircase, another popular tourist destination. Eleven cruise passengers were held at gunpoint and robbed of their cash, jewelry and other belongings."

We discussed the "Queen's Staircase" armed robberies in October - Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau.  No one else in the U.S. covered this brazen armed robbery of cruise tourists in downtown Nassau on a beautiful Sunday morning. 

The New York Times recently ran an story called "When Crime Comes to Paradise."  Written by Caribbean crimes against cruise passengers in ports of callMichelle Higgins in the Times' "Practical Traveler" section, the article suggests that crime is rising in Belize, Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, and St. Lucia. 

Just yesterday we reported on 14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia

Again, no newspaper in the U.S. covered this story of cruise passengers being robbed while on a cruise sponsored excursion.

I was quoted today in the Chicago Sun Times article saying: "This isn’t random — these cruise tours are being targeted . . . you’re not going to be targeted for armed robbery as a cruise tourist on a ship from Seattle to Alaska. It’s more of a reflection of what’s happening in the Caribbean and the poverty that exists outside of the city limits, and people who are desperate for money.”

Now, the tourism boards in St. Lucia and the Bahamas are not going to be happy with stories like these.  But the fact of the matter is that 43 cruise passengers have been robbed at gunpoint in the last two months.

The Bahamas still sell t-shirts claiming that its "Better in the Bahamas."  And the cruise lines keep these crimes secret as they make hundreds of millions of dollars selling excursions to unsuspecting guests who are offloaded into increasingly dangerous ports of call. 

 

Credits

"Caribbean Crime and Violence"    Douglas A. Lawson

Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

The fall-out from last Saturday's robbery of 18 Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise passengers on the Segway Tour at "Earth Village" continues.  The Tribune, Bahama Journal, and Nassau Guardian newspapers have reported daily Bahamas Triibune Newspaper - Cruise Crime on the crime spree in the Bahamas and the inability of the government to do anything about it.

Fort Lauderdale's Sun Sentinel newspapers also recently reported on the cruise crime in an article entitled "Bahamas Security to be Beefed Up After U.S. Cruise Ship Passengers Robbed."

A Terrifying Near Death Experience

The cruise lines' PR departments initially released statements claiming that no one was injured.

Yet, recent interviews of cruise passengers reveal that some of the passengers were kicked, pushed, hit, and terrorized. 

A Royal Caribbean passenger reported being kicked by one of the robbers who discharged his shotgun as she laid on the ground.  The passenger was terrified that she would be murdered.  In an article in the Nassau Guardian entitled "Visitor from Ireland Tells of Ordeal with Gunman,"  she described one of the robbers instructing her: 

"Get your head down bitch' and he fired off a shot, which was just beside me. It hit the ground just beside me."

Another passenger from a cruise ship provides a graphic first hand account of the robbery in an article on AOL Travel entitled: " Danger In Paradise: I was Robbed at Gunpoint in the Bahamas."  She indicates that the Bahamian  police falsely told her after she was robbed that " this never happens here. Never."

Connection to Last Month's Crime?

The Bahama Journal's article "Tourist Robberies May Be Linked," suggests that there may be a connection between this crime and the robbery of 11 cruise passengers at the "Queen's Staircase" in downtown Nassau.  If you have not heard of this prior crime, its because no one in the U.S. reported on it and the cruise lines kept it a secret from their own guests.

We reported about this robbery last month and commented that most cruise lines are aware of crime problems in the ports which they choose to disembark their passengers, but they don't  warn passengers in order to maximize excursion sales.

Inside Job?

The Tribune indicates that a representative of Bahamas Association for Social Health (BASH), Mr. Bishop Hall - Bahamas - Crime and ChaosTerry Miller (below, left) , suggests that the latest robbery may have been an "inside job," although he declined to elaborate.  It is obviously suspicious that these two robbers would know exactly where and when to go in a 160 acre preserve to rob two groups of cruise passengers. 

"Chaotic Crime Nightmare" 

A popular Baptist preacher in the Bahamas, Bishop Simeon Hall (right), was interviewed about the crime problem and the recent attack on the cruise tourists. He is quoted in the Tribune newspaper as referring to  the "current crime nightmare" in the Bahamas as well as the "anarchy and chaos" of the Bahamian society. 

He criticizes the inability of the government to focus on issues of protecting the local citizens and tourists against crime.  Bishop Hall proposes a crime coalition to address the problem.

Serious Crime Up & The Police Release A Suspect

Today's Nassau Guardian reports that robberies in the Bahamas have increased 25% since last year. The Bahamian police are quoted as stating that there has been an increase in violent crimes like armed robbery and murder since July 1st of this year. Meanwhile, the newspaper indicates that the police released a suspect arrested in the "Segway" cruise excursion because of "insufficient evidence."   Police are not questioning any other suspects, the newspaper reports.

A 50% Cruise Discount & A Complimentary Excursion Tour?

The Tribune quotes Bahamas government official Mr. Miller as saying that "he would be willing to Terry Miller - Earth Village - Bahamas - Crimeoffer a complementary tour of the site to the victims."   And the popular cruise community Cruise Critic indicates that Royal Caribbean thinks its reasonable to "compensate" the victimized passengers with just a 50% off-your-next-cruise-with-us coupon.    

The trend of violent cruise crimes continue.  Yet,  the cruise lines remain clueless.

Who on earth would want to pay even 50% of the cruise fare to return to Nassau and visit the tour where you were robbed by shotgun? 

  

Credits:

Newspaper    The Tribune, Nassau

Bishop Hall photograph    New Covenant Baptist Church

Terry Miller photograph   The Tribune, Nassau

 

18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas

The Tribune newspaper in the Bahamas reports that two men wielding shotguns robbed 18 cruise passengers who were on cruise sponsored eco-tours on Saturday. 

The passengers were from cruise ships operated by Disney and Royal Caribbean cruise lines.  They were part of two groups touring the "Earth Village," which is a preserve. 

The Nassau Guardian also reported on the brazen robbery and other robberies this past weekend in Nassau in an article "Multiple Tourist Robberies."

This was not a random excursion but was advertised and sold by the cruise lines and was in association Segway Excursion - Earth Village - Bahamas - Royal Caribbean - Disney Cruise  with a governmental organization called the Bahamas Association for Social Health's (BASH). 

The excursion was a "Segway excursion" where passengers would use the two wheel "Segways" into the 162 acre natural preserve. One of the robbers fired his weapon during the robbery and passengers were physically battered.

We have reported on other crimes in the Bahamas in a prior blog entitled: "Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau." 

Cruise lines have a legal duty to use reasonable care toward their cruise passengers and to warn them of dangers in the ports of call where they frequent, particularly when they promote and sell the excursions.  

We also recently blogged about a Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala during a private tour.

Below is an interview of the one of the cruise passengers robbed during the "Segway Tour," by Bob Arno who was on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship: 

 

 

Credits:

Segway Tours - Bahamas

Video - Thiefhunters in Paradise (Bob Arno interview)