Another Murder in Roatan

In less than three days after Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández declared that guns are prohibited in Roatan and the Bay Islands, a young man was gunned down early on Sunday morning. 

Teledifusora Insular reports that Henry Alexander Almendarez Orellana was shot by two men in the early morning hours of July 13th.

The crime reportedly took place where the young man lived in Barrio La Punta of Coxen Hole. 

Roatan HondurasThe online source says that police are trying to figure out the identity and whereabouts of the perpetrators of this killing. The murder occurs just when the Government of Juan Orlando Hernández has declared a general disarmament of Roatan to safeguard this main tourist destination. 

Last Friday we reported what we predicted would be a futile policy, Roatan: Gun Free Zones.  

President Hernández blamed U.S. drug policy for sparking violence in Central American countries and driving a surge of migration to the United States, according to an interview published today in a Mexican newspaper.

The U.S. State Department updated Honduras travel warning in June mentioned Coxen Hole as a place to avoid after dark.

Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. 

Murders against local residents in Roatan, like this or this, are rarely solved. 

Roatan: Gun Free Zone?

Roatan HondurasThe La Prensa newspaper in Honduras reports that President Juan Orlando Hernández approved legislation last night at a cabinet session to declare that guns are prohibited in Roatan and the Bay Islands.

The article is entitled Gobierno de Honduras declara desarme en Islas de la Bahía.

The newspaper says that the initiative is part of a program to free tourist areas of violence in the country to encourage tourism.

The president declared the Bay Islands as a zone free of weapons with the objective of substantially improving security and promoting the island as paradise. 

Emilio Silvestri, head of the Institute of Tourism, said that it is urgent to remove firearms from the tourist sites.

Seems like it a desperate policy to me.

Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, with some of its police and national soldiers corrupt. The islands are supposedly safer than the mainland although a crew member was shot and killed this year and cruise passenger and tourists were robbed at gunpoint. 

What the saying?  When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

 

Photo Credit:  La Prensa

U.S. State Department: Crime and Violence in Honduras Remain Critically High

The Department of State in the United States issued another warning about the high crime rate in Honduras, saying that "the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high." You can read the June 24 2014 warning here.

The last warning from the U.S. state Department was issued on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2013. 

A lot has happened since last December. As far as tourists, cruise passengers and crew members are concerned, there have been several armed robberies and one death. Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) temporarily pulled its cruise ships out of the island port of Roatan after a NCL crew Roatan Honduras Crime Cruisemember was shot and killed near the port in Coxen Hole.

The report states that "crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country, and the Government of Honduras lacks the resources to address these issues." Since 2010, Honduras has had the highest murder rate in the world. The homicide rate for last year (2013) was 75.6 to 79 per 100,000 people in 2013.  

Crime is also significant in tourist areas. The report states:

"Although Roatan/Bay Islands, Copan Mayan ruins, and other tourist destinations and resorts have a lower crime rate than other parts of the country, thefts, break-ins, assaults, and murders do occur and are still high by international standards."

Crimes against U.S. visitors and residents are rarely solved. As we mentioned before, of the last 50 U.S. citizens killed in Honduras, only 2 cases have been solved.

We have reported on several armed robberies against cruise passengers in Roatan this year like this, and the murder of the NCL crew member last April.

This year, to the howl of protests from expatriate resort owners and tour and dive operators in Roatan, we selected Honduras as the second most dangerous cruise destination in the world

Murder in Roatan: A Peaceful, Tranquil Paradise?

Roatan Honduras came onto the radar of Cruise Law News in January of this year when a U.S. family who took a Carnival cruise to the island was robbed at gun point while driving in a rental car. The bandito shot the car up, terrifying the three children in the car as well as their parents, who had no idea that they had taken the kids to such a violent place for a family vacation. 

The mother subsequently left us a message saying:

"My Husband, 8, 14, 15 year old daughters and I were shot at, robbed and almost killed after returning Roatan Honduras Crimefrom one of the Roatan Beaches. I find it hard to believe that cruise lines would be wanting to increase tourism to Honduras. People innocently go there to enjoy it's beauty unaware of the danger lurking. My heart goes out to the family of the Norwegian cruise line crew member that was just killed there in broad daylight."

We subsequently reported about several other tourists robbed or assaulted at gun point this year. We were also the first in the U.S. to report on the murder of a NCL crew member in Coxen Hole.

What struck me most about Roatan when I began speaking to local residents and people who fled the island was not just the crime and sense of lawlessness. I was surprised by the extraordinary efforts of the expatriate U.S. citizens who live in Roatan to create the false and misleading impression that the place was a safe, tropical paradise.

Today in reading the local Insular Teledifusora Facebook page, I see that a local man identified as Rodrigo Mendoza Nelson was shot multiple times. His body was dumped along a road from Coxen Hole to Sandy Bay near an entrance to a place called "Mud Hole" late last night.

The images of the lifeless body on the Teledifusora Insular page are graphic.

Roatan Honduras Crime The web page also shows several crude images of men who were quickly arrested for the murder. 

A week ago I wrote about another murder of a local man who was bludgeoned to death near the  Balfate colony area.

None of these images or stories will be seen by tourists to Roatan.

Nor will the expatriate citizens running the tour or dive shops, or the restaurants or bars, or the resorts or realty companies mention these incidents to cruise ship passengers. 

 

Image Credit: Teledifusora Insular

More Trouble for Cruise Tourism in Roatan

The Telegraph reports that Cruising Excursions, a company which operates tours exploring Roatan's "fishing villages, mangroves, iguana farms and beaches," announced that it is canceling its tours on the island.

An excursion company representative said that “a string of reports of robberies, violence against visitors and now this horrific murder have forced us to suspend our cruise excursion programme on this beautiful island. "

The newspaper further quoting the spokesperson saying that it is “very sad for the majority of law Roatan Hondurad Cruise Crimeabiding island residents, especially those who make a living from tourism but we cannot recommend cruisers go ashore until we are reassured that measures are in place to protect visitors."

The excursion company also said that all bookings have been canceled with full refunds.

Roatan is in crisis mode trying to respond to the murder of a Filipino crew member from the Norwegian Pearl a week ago. We previously reported on the horrific crime

The excursion company's withdrawal from Roatan is significant because it was based not only on the recent homicide but on what it describes as a string of violent robberies this year. 

We reported on prior armed robberies in January and March

Roatan attended the Cruise Shipping Miami convention in Miami Beach last month to promote its port. I stopped and took a photo of the booth. I thought that it was just a matter of time before something like this happened.

 

Photo Credit:  Jim Walker

A Week the Cruise Industry Would Like to Forget

This week has been a public relations disaster for the cruise lines and the travel industry.

A Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) crew member from the Norwegian Pearl was gunned down in Roatan after he walked off the ship to call his wife and check on his child back in the Philippines (suspect photo below right). A Disney crew member sexually molested a 13 year old girl on the Disney Dream.  A visitor from Canada was murdered and his family terrorized in the Bahamas. A MSC cruise ship, the Magnifica, was raided by the police and labor officials in Brazil for human rights violations. Princess and Royal Caribbean cruise ships infected hundreds and hundreds of guests with norovirus aboard the Grandeur of the Seas and the Crown Princess

You can read about the stories here.

A month ago I attended the Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM) and listened to NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan Roatan Murder Suspect Cruisesay: "we are ruled by public opinion; unless we can keep our business running right we will always be on defensive." The NCL boss added: "a period of operational excellence and no media incidents are needed."

A month ago I wrote that the continuous stories about mistreatment of crew members, sexual assaults, and children victimization will continue to damage the cruise industry's image. Its like reputation death by a thousand cuts. I heard no PR plan by the cruise lines at CSM to turn things around.  I said at the time that the cruise lines were just "hanging in the balance hoping for the best."

Well the best didn't come and cruise executive Sheehan didn't get his prayer answered for "no media incidents."

This week Sheehan pulled his cruise ships out of Roatan after one of his crew members was murdered last Sunday, but the move is just temporary. His ships will again start calling on Roatan at some point. But the danger is still there. Many cruise passengers, from Carnival and Royal Caribbean, as well as other tourists, have been robbed at gunpoint or machete point in Roatan earlier this year.

Crime in Roatan will not magically stop.  Other cruise tourists will undoubtedly be robbed. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world not to mention dysfunctional police and legal systems. Where do the cruise line go instead? Belize? The Bahamas? Their crime and murder rates are also some of the worst in the world.

Roatan, Belize, and the Bahamas are all beautiful but they are all dangerous places to visit. What families want to save up all year and go on a Caribbean vacation to get away from the stresses of their lives just to end up in some of the most dangerous countries in the world?

A new Harris Poll revealed that the cruise industry's image is sinking. The poll says that the U.S. public questions the safety and reliability of cruising. The poll cited the numerous norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships as one reason for the lack of confidence in the cruise industry. The poll was taken before the Roatan shooting or the Disney child molestation case this week.

Crime in Roatan: Shots Fired, Armed Robbery of Carnival Cruise Passengers

A week ago, a popular cruise line blogger wrote a glowing review of the port of Roatan, Honduras as a wonderful place that cruise passengers should consider. But nowhere in the review was there any mention of the high crime rate there. The murder rate in Honduras is the highest of any country that a cruise line could choose.

The blogger posted the review on Twitter. I thought that he was out of his mind.

So I questioned on Twitter why he didn't mention Honduras' high crime and murder rate? I posted the the U.S. Department of State's warning.

Carnival Conquest RoatanToday I read a message which had been posted by a Carnival cruise ship passenger, traveling with his wife and three girls, on a Facebook page of a friend called the "Missing America's Project:"

"ROATAN WARNING! 02 JANUARY 2014. SHOTS FIRED AT MY FAMILY. RENTAL CAR HIT BY BULLET, ROBBED AT GUNPOINT. Please use extreme caution if traveling to Roatan, an island cruise destination off the coast of Honduras."

You can read the rest of the message below.

One of the problems is that travel agents and cruise line do not warn cruise passengers of the dangers of crime in the Caribbean ports of call where crime is a real problem.  Some cruise lines provide luke-warm warnings in publications provided to the passengers on the cruise ship, but only after the families have already purchased their tickets and are sailing to the port.

The U.S. Department of State warning is accessible here. It is ominous. Since 2010, Honduras has had the highest murder rate in the world. In addition, "The vast majority of serious crimes in Honduras, including those against U.S. citizens, are never solved; of the 50 murders committed against U.S. citizens since 2008, police have only solved two."

The family robbed stated that another family sailing with Carnival had a shotgun pointed at them on a van during a sight-seeing excursion.

Here's the message posted on the Facebook Page:

"This past Thursday, during our Carnival Cruise port call, while driving on a beach access road on the northeast side of the island, a masked gunman sprung from the bushes about 30 feet in front of our car. With no warning he aimed and fired his semi-automatic weapon, striking the front hood of our rental vehicle. My wife and our three daughters, ages 8, 14, and 15, were with me. My immediate reaction was to put the car in reverse and try to back down the gravel/dirt access road to distance my family from the gunman. I wrecked the rental after driving approximately 75 yards in high speed reverse. The gunman pursued us on foot with pistol drawn. I got out of the car and when the gunman arrived he proceeded to rob us of cash, iPhones and camera. The encounter lasted approximately three minutes, and for most of that time he had his gun pointed either at me or at my daughters.

The gunman was 20-25 years old (best guess), brown native skin, black hair, about 5'8" tall, and weighed approximately 200 lbs. He spoke almost perfect "Island English".

Carnival has responded by providing comfort to my family, and has handled this incident in a caring and professional manner. The local police are investigating.

Roatan has only one major east/west running paved road. Many of the beaches and tourist destinations are located away from this paved road, and must be accessed by driving on un-paved secondary roads through rural "jungle" areas. Use extreme caution when off the main path, especially when in a highly noticeable rental car.

Also on the same day, another cruise guest had a shotgun pointed at his family while on a sight-seeing guided van tour. They were also on a remote un-paved side road." 

March 20 2014 Update: Travel Crime Warning: Tourists Assaulted, Robbed & Terrorized in Roatan, Honduras.

 

Thinking of visiting Roatan Honduras? Read the Missing Americans Project first.

Photo Credit: Sven Manguard / Wikimedia

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.  

Armed Robbery of Jewelry Store in Cayman Islands While 5 Cruise Ships Visit

Cayman 27 reports that three armed men robbed a jewelry store in downtown George Town, Cayman Islands this morning. It was initially reported that shots were fired during the robbery although no one was injured. The local newspaper now indicates that the local police deny that shots were fired. 

The armed robbery occurred while five cruise ships, with over 14,000 passengers, were in port. 

The Cayman 27's report indicates that the jewelry heist occurred at Diamonds International, which Diamonds International Cayman Islandsis located across the street from the cruise terminal.

The island's police commissioner reportedly drove his vehicle into the robbers’ getaway car.

Taxi and tour operators were involved in chasing and apprehending the robbers. A tour operator broke his arm during the chase.

The robbery occurred when cruise passengers were in port. The Cayman 27 article has photographs of the robbers, crashed cars and one of the guns involved in the robbery. It also has a photo of tourists with cameras around their necks at the scene.  

Crime in the Caribbean islands is an issue which we discuss regularly on this blog. Crime in ports of call in the Caribbean is increasing, especially in the Bahamas, Honduras and St.Thomas, although the Cayman Islands is generally not considered to be dangerous.

The U.S. Department of State states that: "the crime threat in Cayman Islands is generally considered low, although travelers should always take normal precautions when in unfamiliar surroundings. Petty theft, pick-pocketing and purse snatchings occur. A few cases involving sexual assault have been reported to the Embassy."

We have written about crime against cruise passengers in the Cayman Islands before, including the rape of a teenager from a Carnival cruise ship.

Cruise lines promote the ports of call as tropical paradises. Many passengers are lured into the world of cruise fantasies and lower their guard.

 

Photo Credit: TripAdvisor

Three Men Charged With Assault on P&O Ferries Spirit of France

As a maritime lawyer in Miami Florida, I have mostly followed and reported on the schenanigans of the Miami-based cruise lines.

But after learning of the plight of the Fearnside family who lost their son, Richard, on a P&O ferry based in the U.K, I have broadened my horizons.

What on earth is going on with the U.K. based ferries? It sounds like they are technologically stuck back in the 1950's, maybe the 40's.  

P&O Ferries says that CCTV cameras on open decks is impossible. But P&O Ferries has lots of CCTV cameras on its duty free booze in the ferry's shops. But not on its decks where passengers have disappeared. It has no automatic man overboard detection systems. I suppose that's impossible too.

Poppycock.

Tonight we learn from Kent On Line that Port of Dover police charged three men after assaulting a passenger on board the P&O Spirit of France ferry, causing bodily harm. They are also jointly charged with threatening unlawful violence towards others.    

Violence on a P&O ferry? Seems so. I'd like to review the CCTV cameras to see what the police in Kent can prove. P&O does have that basic capability, right?     

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

PO Ferries Spirit of France

Photo Credit:  Spirit of France - Wikipedia / 2013harry

Three Cruise Lines Plan to Return to Mazatlan: Will They Provide Bullet-Proof Jackets to Passengers?

The L.A. Times Travel Section reports today that three cruise lines have announced that they plan to return to crime-plagued Mazatlan.

First, Holland America Line's Veendam will return in November. Norwegian Cruise Line's Star will return in December. The third line, Azamara, will sail the Quest to Mazatlan in February 2014.

In 2010 and 2011, Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line and Holland-America stopped calling at the Mexican port.  As the newspaper states, most of the cruise lines listed crime in the port as a major concern.

Mazatlan Mexico Crime - Cruise ShipThe issue of crime against cruise passengers in Mexican and Caribbean ports has been a hot topic on this blog. Read our article two and one-half years ago: Cruise Lines Skip Papua and Mazatlan, But Sail Passengers to Nassau - the Cruise Crime Capital of the World.

Don't miss reading the Gadling article: Mazatlan and Cruise Lines, Not a Good Match Anytime Soon which was published in May 2011.

But that was over 2 years ago, the Mexican tourism people say. The officials of Mazatlan assure the cruise lines that the city has new security precautions. The police and army have allegedly cracked down on crime and they invested in security cameras, accordingly to Mazatlan officials who commented to the L.A. Times. 

The L.A. Times writes that city officials hope the three cruise lines will signal to other lines that "Mazatlan is a safe, enjoyable port where the margaritas are large and luscious, the shrimp tasty and the scenery grand."

Sounds like a good Mexican restaurant in Miami to me. Someone needs to provide me with more detailed and assuring information before I pay to sail my family to Mazatlan and go ashore. 

 

Photo Credit: Mazatlan - AOL / Gadling

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.    

Cruise Industry Article "Safe at Sea" Misses the Boat

Cruise Ship Crime - PornographyA criminologist for the cruise industry, Dr. James Alan Fox, published an article earlier this week which contains a great deal of unsubstantiated and misleading opinions about crime on cruise ships. 

The cruise industry routinely hires Dr. Fox when Congress scrutinizes the cruise lines for not honestly reporting crimes. The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) paid Dr. Fox to comment on select crime data to try and and stave off mandatory cruise reporting legislation proposed by Senator Rockefeller.

Dr. Fox's subsequent article, published in a Boston newspaper, is entitled "Safe at Sea." He cites five "factors" which he says support CLIA's claim that cruising is safe. You can read my criticisms below his comments: 

1. "Cruise passengers are hardly a cross-section of be U.S. population," Dr. Fox says. He argues that the "age distribution" and "socio-economic standing" of the typical cruise line passenger tends "to limit the number of passengers with criminal intent."

Dr. Fox does not explain what specific types of U.S. citizens are more likely to board a cruise ship with "criminal intent." And I don't know how he could possibly know that. The limited crime data disclosed by the cruise lines doesn't provide the age, race, social status or economic standing of either the victim or the assailant such that anyone could determine who is the most likely person to commit a crime on a cruise ship.  

Cruise Ship Crime - RapeDr. Fox also does not identify any type of methodology or scientific analysis he conducted to arrive at his conclusions. The "factors" he cites are subjective opinions which mirror the press releases of the cruise industry which paid him in the first place. 

In my experience representing in excess of a hundred cruise victims over the years, cruise passengers are victimized by a wide variety of criminals of all ages, races, ethnicities, social groups and economic backgrounds. They are no different than perverts ashore. 

Carnival's $399-a-week for a "fun ship" cruise has opened up cruises to the masses which includes both good and bad people. Carnival's Micky Arison commented in an article I wrote about the problem of violence during cruises - Cruise Ship Brawls - A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships. Carnival's former CEO acknowledges that violence is a by-product of cheap cruise tickets which attract a more diverse group of passengers:

Cruise ships are a microcosm of any city or any location and stuff happens . . . The negatives of discounting might be less commission for agents and less revenue for us but the positive is it opens up the product to a wider audience.”

Cruise Ship Crime - PervertFrom my perspective, the "wider audience" includes a large slice of perverts, porn addicts, pedophiles, molesters, rapists, drunken brawlers, murderers, serial rapists, and even serial killers from across the U.S. And don't forget that people on a cruise ship are not just a slice of U.S. citizens across the country, but a slice of people from all over the world. 

Consider for the moment the disturbing number of passengers and crew members who bring graphic child pornography onto cruise ships on their iPhones, laptops, computers and thumb drives. Look here, herehere, here and here for a small example.  Child perverts who attack children on cruise ships come in all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds, as you can see here, here, here and here. One child predator alone employed aboard Cunard cruise ships, Paul Trotter, a child counselor no less, molested at least 13 U.K. boys in the last few years. There are many other child victims. Rapists who target single women and girls come in all sizes and colors, some wearing cruise ship uniforms. Violence rare? You can watch YouTube videos all day long of drunken cruise passengers brawls which resemble gang fights that rival the meanest street in a major urban city. Yes, there are murders too, as you can see here, here, here, here and here. There are few arrests or convictions. A cruise ship seems to be the perfect place to commit the crime and get away with it. 

Cruise Ship Crime - Israel KeyesSerial killers sailing on cruise ships too? There's no way, you say. But consider this headline from FOX News just last year: "FBI: Confessed Serial Killer Boarded Cruise Ship in New Orleans," and this sensational headline from ABC News "Serial Killer's Methodical Plan to Rape and Strangle Teen, Then Go on a Cruise." The articles involve serial killer Israel Keyes who abducted, robbed, raped, strangled, and mutilated a young woman in Alaska.  The FBI says that he was involved in a number of similar crimes across the country. Following his last grisly crime, where did serial killer Keyes go on vacation? He went on two back-to-back cruises out of New Orleans.

The lesson to be learned is that when you cruise, you never know who you're cruising with. Don't be fooled for a second that there are any fewer criminals on cruise ships than anywhere else.

2. "In addition to passenger self-selection is the type of screening performed by the cruise lines themselves. While most vacation venues do background checks on prospective employees, cruise lines also submit passenger manifests to both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard for screening."

Cruise Ship Crime - PornographyCruise lines don't conduct background investigations on their employees. Hiring agents in countries like Jamaica and India are suppose to do that, but rarely do. Read our article: Do Cruise Lines Conduct Background Checks of Crew Members?  Learn what the cruise industry's pre-employment vetting of cruise ship employees is really all about.  

Yes, cruise lines send their passenger manifests to U.S. Customs & Border officials, but the federal government usually does not conduct a screening of the list until after the cruise ships sails. Lots of people with outstanding warrants get arrested, but only after the ship returns to port.

People who are on "no fly" lists on suspicion of terrorism can still board cruise ships and travel by ship when they can't fly for security reasons.  

If you think that cruise line vetting and federal officials keep rapists off cruise ships, read this blockbuster article: Most Wanted Rape Suspect Arrested On Carnival Cruise Ship - Worked As Manager Of Onboard Hair Salon.  

3.  "Passengers and crew are searched for weapons and other contraband every time they board ship. In fact, except for only extraordinary circumstances (e.g., security details protecting certain dignitaries), passengers are not permitted to carry guns, even off-duty police personnel."

Dr. Fox is correct on this one point.  Your chance of being robbed at gunpoint on a cruise ship is extremely remote. But armed robbery on a ship is not a problem and has never been debated before Cruise Ship Crime - PedophileCongress. The most likely crimes are rape and sexual assault. The most likely rapist is an employee of the cruise line. 18% of sexual assaults on cruise ships are against children. Plus, a significant number of passengers and crew go overboard without an explanation.

But as far as guns are concerned once you disembark a cruise ship into a port chosen by the cruise industry, the risk of being shot or robbed at gunpoint increases significantly. The risk is particularly high in Mexico and the Caribbean. 22 Carnival passengers from the Splendor were robbed at gunpoint in Mexico. 17 Celebrity passengers were robbed at gunpoint in St. Kitts.  A total of 29 Disney and Royal Caribbean cruise passengers were robbed at gunpoint in two incidents in the Bahamas which you can read about here and here. 14 NCL passengers were robbed at gunpoint in St. Lucia. And to top it off a year later 55 cruise passengers and 2 crew members from the Celebrity Eclipse were robbed at gunpoint in St. Lucia.  I'm sure that none of these 125 people expected to have a gun pointed at their face during their family cruise.

Cruise lines don't like to discuss the problem, but cruise lines are responsible for warning passengers of crime they know or should know about in ports where they take their guests. Courts consider Cruise Ship  Crime -- Rapeexcursions ashore to be an integral part of the cruise experience. You may never be shot on a cruise, but passengers and crew have been murdered in ports of call such as cases like this and this and this.

4.  "Although cruise ships do not have immediate access to law enforcement while at sea, the level of security and surveillance provided by the cruise lines is relatively high compared to that of many other types of vacation destinations."

Dr. Fox does not explain what "relatively high" security and surveillance means. On a typical cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew members, there are only around ten security guards and a security chief and security supervisor.  There are many hundreds of waiters, assistant waiters, bartenders, bar servers, cooks, cleaners, and stateroom attendants on a ship but relatively few guards. There are far more dancers, singers, beauticians and spa employees than security guards.  At nighttime, there may be only one or two guards making rounds and a security supervisor in his office, which is grossly inadequate given the substantial amount of alcohol sold on cruise ships and potential Cruise Ship Crime - Molestation Disney Cruisefor physical and sexual violence.

Most surveillance cameras on cruise ships are not actually manned by anyone. Some cruise lines staff the security cameras in the casinos in order to protect their money, but they don't monitor cameras positioned on the exterior decks and interior hallways. Virtually no cruise lines have state-of-the-art man overboard systems to detect passengers and crew who go overboard, as required by the 2010 Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act ("CVSSA").

The biggest problem with the absence of an independent police force on cruise ships is that the ship's security personnel have a conflict of interest when crimes are committed.  Some crimes against women are committed by the ship's security personnel or officers who are far senior to the security guards. When a woman is sexually assaulted at a hotel ashore, the local police will arrive and preserve the scene and apprehend the criminals involved. On a cruise ship, the ship security will often begin to build a case against the victim to protect the crew member and the cruise line. Sometimes the cruise ship officers and staff negligently or intentionally destroy evidence making the victim's case impossible to prove.       

5. "Last, and certainly not least important, the confined space on cruise ships limits the opportunity for would-be offenders to attempt a quick getaway. They certainly can't escape apprehension by jumping overboard or making off in a stolen lifeboat."

Crew members who commit crimes don't need to jump overboard or steal a lifeboat to escape. Cruise Cruise Ship Crime - Child Molesterlines have been known to sail the cruise ship out of the jurisdiction where the crime occurs and then fly the criminal employee home from the next port of call in order to avoid prosecution. Just earlier this week, the Miami Herald wrote an editorial stating the following about an assault by a Disney employee against a girl on the Disney Dream:

"There’s another serious problem that lawmakers should address: Some cruise lines egregiously help crew members accused of sexual assault and other crimes elude prosecution. Unfortunately, it’s an old story being given new life in an awful case reported by WKMG-Channel 6 in Orlando. A crew member on a Disney cruise was caught on video molesting an 11-year-old girl while the ship still was in port. Ship authorities waited a full day before reporting the crime to the FBI. By that time the ship was on its way to the Bahamas, where the alleged perpetrator was allowed to disembark, out of the reach of U.S. law enforcement. Disney then did the guy a further favor and flew him home to India."

Final Thoughts: Crime statistics don't tell the whole story. The more important considerations are whether the cruise lines are being truly honest with the public about crimes which occur, whatever the Cruise Ship Rapestatistics may be. True transparency by the cruise industry is the key. Unfortunately, it is sorely lacking. Cruise lines have never voluntarily released statistics of sexual crimes against children.

Cruise lines must be obligated to inform passengers about the specific types of dangers which exist on cruises. The cruise industry must be required by law to promptly report crimes when they occur. There must be penalties levied against cruise lines which delay reporting crimes or assist criminals who prey on women and children during cruises - especially if the criminals are their own employees.     

Photos:

Gary Lee Read - Child Pornography - Monarch of the Seas

Milton Braganza - Sexual assault / molestation of 11 year old girl - Disney Dream

Timothy Webb - Child Pornography - Grandeur of the Seas

Israel Keyes - Serial killer later vacationing on unknown cruise ship

Amado Nichols Hernandez - Child Pornography - Celebrity Constellation

Sherwood Stevenson - Sexual molestation of 6 year old girl - Liberty of the Seas

Casey Dickinson - Gang rape of 14 year old girl - Carnival Sensation

Lucas George - Sexual Assault of 13 year old girl - Disney Wonder

Paul Trotter - Sexual abuse of over 13 boys under age 14 - various Cunard cruise ships

Kris Herypiyanto - Rape of 14 year old girl - Carnival Freedom

Seven Tourists Raped in Acapulco: What is the Cruise Industry's Spin?

The news reports out of Mexico are shocking.

Six women from Spain vacationing in Acapulco were bound and raped by a gang of five men who burst into their holiday rental. Their male friends were gagged and bound by telephone cords and robbed.  

One news source said the mayor of Acapulco did not help matters with a statement saying no big deal: “It is unfortunate, but it happens anywhere.” 

Mexico - Cruise Ship ViolenceThis is the last thing Mexico's tourism industry needs.  

Although none of the tourists arrived by cruise ship, the issue remains whether traditional cruise ports in Mexico are safe for travel. 

Last year I wrote an article Mexican Violence: Does Anyone Cruise to Acapulco Anymore?  I chronicled the violence, murders, robberies and assorted mayhem in the Mexican ports of call.

The Mexican tourism industry, the cruise lines which sail to Mexico, and the expatriated Americans living south of the border will say that such incidents are rare, but read my article and judge yourself before you drink their Kool-Aid.  

I'd be tempted to sail in Europe or to Alaska, but I wouldn't be caught dead sailing to Acapulco.   

Join the discussion of the issue on our Facebook page

 

Photo Credit:

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images via Wall Street Journal's Mexico Tourism Feels Chill of Ongoing Drug Violence

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.

Gunmen Rob Jewelry Store While Costa Pacifica In Port In Greece

Cruise Port of Katakolon - Robbery The popular crew member website, Crew Center, posted an interesting article today entitled "Masked Gunmen with AK47 Robed Jewelry Store while Costa Pacifica was in the Port."

The article explains that an armed robbery of a jewelry store occurred in the port city of Katakolon, Greece while the Costa Pacifica was docked in port.

At the time of the robbery, there were hundreds of cruise tourists who had come to shopping area from the Costa Pacifica.

Crew Center explains that shortly after 2:00 PM a silver Ford Galaxy appeared and four masked men with Kalashnikovs entered the jewelry store with automatic weapons.

After the armed men robed the store of all the jewelry, they smashed the shop and shot at in the air causing panic among the locals and tourists.

Police officials say that they found the car abandoned and completely destroyed. Witnesses say that perpetrators were Greeks and spoke fluent Greek.

There are no reports that anyone was physically injured. 

Crew Center also posted a video of the incident. 

 

 

Photo and video:  Crew Center

Mideast Violence Is Reminder of Vulnerability of U.S. Based Cruise Ships

The disturbing trend of violence against the U.S. in places like Libya and Egypt is causing the cruise lines to scramble to swap out ports of call in North Africa for ports in Italy and Malta.

HAL's Ryndam skipped a port Tunisia yesterday and instead visited Sardinia, Italy. Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas will avoid Alexandria, Egypt next week and will call on Sicily and Valletta, Malta on the next two days. Cunard's Queen Elizabeth skipped a call today in Alexandria and will visit Rhodes tomorrow. 

Cruise Ship Terrorism - Achille LauraCruise ships have long been considered likely targets for jihadist terrorists.

In April I blogged about a plot where Arab terrorists envisioned hijacking a U.S. based cruise ship, forcing the passengers to wear orange Guantanamo-like jump suits and then videotaping their execution.

There are numerous studies by security companies and U.S. governmental organizations which have studied terrorist organizations and concluded that terrorism against cruise ships is likely. Take a look at this report by the RAND organization.

The World Cruise Industry Review publication concluded that the most likely terrorist scenario is the hijacking of a cruise ship and its passengers: "A cruise ship is boarded and commandeered, while perpetrators hold and potentially injure or kill passengers if demands are not met – as in the Achille Lauro attack." 

When I was a kid, my family lived in Tripoli Libya starting in 1965 until the 80's.  The Libyan people back then (mostly Sunni Muslims) were peaceful.  But today?  Libya, Egypt, Tunisia or Morocco are the last places on earth I would sail my family to.   

Cruise ships are simply not equipped to handle a terrorist attack. Cruise ship security can't even handle drunk passengers.  And I would not trust the port authorities in these Arab countries to provide adequate protection against Islamic fanatics strapped with explosives who would love to blow up a cruise ship with Americans aboard. 

 

Update:  Join the discussion on our facebook page - most viewers don't have a high regard for the ability of cruise ship security guards to protect your family from al-Qaeda. 

 

Newspaper credit: Sea Fever

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

Twenty-seven years ago, a state appellate court in Florida held that a cruise line owes its passengers a duty to warn of known dangers beyond the point of debarkation in places where passengers are invited or reasonably expected to visit. Carlisle v. Ulysses Line Ltd., S.A.,475 So. 2d 248, 251 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1985). 

The Carlisle case involved a horrific incident involving four passengers aboard the S.S. Dolphin on a four-day cruise to the Bahamas. They were attracted to this particular cruise by promotional brochures advertising the beautiful beaches of Nassau. Upon arriving in Nassau, the two couples rented a jeep and headed for the beaches. Following the advice of the ship's cruise director, they traveled to a secluded beach and were ambushed by three masked gunmen who opened fire on them with shotguns. All four of them were wounded. Mr. Carlisle later died from a gunshot wound to his head. After the incident, the survivors learned from members of the ship's crew that other tourists and a member of the ship's crew had been victims of violent acts perpetrated in various places on the island. Bahamian police reported that the particular beach where plaintiffs were attacked was "very bad."

The cruise line denied that it had any obligation to passengers off of the cruise ship and further denied that it had a duty to warn of crime in the ports of call where it disembarked its passengers.  The appellate court in Carlisle disagreed, holding that the cruise line's legal duty to its passengers does not end at the gangway and it must warn of dangers where the passenger is invited to, or may reasonably be expected to visit. 

The court drew a distinction between "point to point" travel offered by an airline which clearly has no obligation to its passengers once they leave the airplane, and a cruise vacation where the cruise lines advertise (and profit from) the ports of call.  Cruise lines have an ongoing duty to their passengers throughout the cruise experience.  The decision makes sense.  The cruise lines frequent the ports of call on at least a weekly basis; they have agents in the ports; and accordingly they are in a position to know far more about the ports than a passenger. 

The federal trial courts in this jurisdiction have applied Carlisle, but the cruise lines have been trying to chip away at it for years.  Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean have been trying to convince the federal judges that cruise lines should have no liability to the passengers once they step foot in port and they don't have to warn of dangers that they know about but their passengers don't.   

Recently, Royal Caribbean was successful in obtaining an order ending a case filed against it after a young woman was sexually assaulted by men in Cozumel.  The passenger alleged the cruise line knew that there Carnival Victory Cruise Ship were rapes and violent crimes against its passengers in this port but failed to warn them. You can read about this case, which is now on appeal, in our article: Royal Caribbean Smears Crime Victim & Gets Cozumel Rape Lawsuit Thrown Out Before Trial.    

Last week, in a case we are handling, the cruise lines received a major set-back when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the rationale of the Carlisle decision and stated that cruise lines do in fact have an obligation to warn cruise passengers of the danger of crime of off the ships.

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 in St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Carnival successfully argued at the trial court level that it had no obligation to the young girl or her family, but the federal appellate court reversed the lower court. The pertinent portions of the 11th Circuit's opinion are below:

"Liz Marie and Appellants (her parents and brother) took a vacation aboard a Carnival cruise ship, the M/V VICTORY. Appellants allege that an unidentified Carnival employee encouraged Liz Marie’s father and brother to visit Coki Beach and Coral World upon disembarking the ship in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. On July 12, 2010, Appellants left the ship and traveled to Coki Beach independently of the ship’s sponsored excursions in St. Thomas. On their way back to the ship from Coki Beach, Appellants and Liz Marie rode an open-air bus past a funeral service of a gang member who recently died in a gang-related shooting near Coki Beach. Cars of funeral attendees were parked along the narrow road, blocking the bus’s passage. While stuck in traffic, gang-related, retaliatory violence erupted at the funeral, shots were fired, and Liz Marie was killed on the bus as an innocent passerby.

                                                             *                  *                   *

Appellants’ complaint alleges the following: a Carnival employee encouraged Appellants to visit Coki Beach in St. Thomas; Carnival was familiar with Coki Beach because it sold excursions there; Carnival generally knew of gang violence and public shootings in St. Thomas; Carnival knew of Coki Beach’s reputation for drug sales, theft, and gang violence; Carnival knew or should have known of the gang member’s shooting and funeral taking place near Coki Beach; Carnival failed to warn Appellants of any of these dangers; Carnival knew or should have known of these dangers because Carnival monitors crime in its ports of call; Carnival’s negligence in encouraging its passengers to visit Coki Beach and in failing to warn disembarking passengers of general and specific incidents of crime in St. Thomas and Coki Beach caused Liz Marie’s death; and Appellants have suffered various damages, including the loss of Liz Marie’s life. This negligent failure-to-warn claim is more than a mere recitation of the elements of the cause of action. The facts alleged in the complaint are plausible and raise a reasonable expectation that discovery could supply additional proof of Carnival’s liability. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556, 127 S. Ct. at 1965. We consequently conclude that the district court erred in dismissing Appellants’ negligence claim under Iqbal."

You can read the entire decision here.

This is a significant decision because crime in the Caribbean islands (as well as Mexico) has been increasing over the years. We have written several dozen articles over the last couple of years about the murder, robbery and rape of cruise passengers ashore in ports of call in the Caribbean. Take a minute and read about the rash of crimes where cruise passengers are targeted: Armed Banditos Rob 22 Carnival Passengers on Excursion in Mexico.   

Our firm retained appellate specialist Phil Parrish to write the winning brief. Carnival was represented by Curtis Mase and Valentina Tejera.  You can read the lawsuit our law firm filed here.

 

The case is receiving national and international coverage:

ABC News: Vacation danger: Is cruise ship liable for perils on shore excursions?

Virgin Islands Daily News: Court rules lawsuit over slain teen tourist should be heard.

 

Photo Carnival Victory cruise ship bajan.wordpress.com

Royal Caribbean Smears Crime Victim & Gets Cozumel Rape Lawsuit Thrown Out Before Trial

A trial scheduled this month involving a Royal Caribbean cruise passenger who alleges she was gang-raped while ashore in Cozumel was averted when the federal court judge granted a motion filed by the cruise line to end the case.

The order granting Royal Caribbean's motion was posted on line by Leagle yesterday and can be read here

The case involved a young woman from Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas who was shopping in an area recommended by the cruise line. Royal Caribbean derives many millions of dollars in income when cruise passengers shop Oasis of the Seas - Cozumel Mexicoat the cruise-line-recommended stores.   

The passenger left the ship and went to a shopping areas which Royal Caribbean recommends. After walking a few blocks down the main strip to a store called "Viva Mexico," the passenger turned around and subsequently encountered a man selling jewelry from a cart. The cruise line literature does not mention shopping cart vendors.  

The man with the jewelry cart told her that he had other jewelry in his store and led her to a store not identified on the cruise line map but under the same roof of other cruise-advertised stores. The man then pushed her down a hallway and into a restroom where he forced her to perform oral sex on him. Four additional Mexican men then raped her orally and vaginally.

The victim hired lawyers here in Miami who sued Royal Caribbean for failing to warn her of the danger of sexual assault in Cozumel and recommending a shopping area where she was raped.

Royal Caribbean moved to end the case arguing that it had no duty to warn of dangers ashore off of the cruise ship - an argument the court quickly rejected.

The cruise line then argued that it had taken millions of passengers to the port of Cozumel but it was unaware of instances of sexual assault or violent crime specifically involving Royal Caribbean passengers or crew members in the shopping area depicted on the map or in Cozumel.

The court held that the case could not proceed without such evidence.  The ruling is rather strange because there was no showing by the cruise line that it was unaware of rapes and violence against women other than passengers and crew in the shopping area and in Cozumel in general. When the victim's lawyer served subpoenas on the other major cruise lines (Carnival, NCL, etc.) to obtain evidence of how many other cruise line passengers and crew were crimes victims in Cozumel, all of the cruise lines objected.     

The court also essentially ignored affidavits submitted by the victim's lawyers that there were other violent assaults in the area and crew members are aware of the dangers ashore in Cozumel and tell their supervisors, but the cruise line keeps the passengers in the dark.

The court also gave little weight to evidence submitted that to monitor security risks in places to which Royal Caribbean directs its passengers to in Cozumel, Royal Caribbean relies on United States State Department travel warnings, reports from its passengers and crew, the local police, and its port agent.

Just last week in a case involving a Royal Caribbean passenger who alleges she was raped at Senor Frog's in Cozumel, the local press reported that there were 7 cases of rape in the preceding six months.  If Royal Caribbean claims that it didn't know of rapes in Cozumel, the cruise line is not doing a good job of staying informed of the crime in this Mexican port where it takes its guests and encourages them to shop ashore.

In addition, two travel warnings issued by the State Department were in existence at the time of the gang rape, which refer to Cozumel, rape, and sexual assault as a "serious problem" in resort areas. 

The disturbing thing about the case is that Royal Caribbean went to great lengths to argue that before the rape, the young woman allegedly attempted to purchase "illegal drugs" while she was ashore shopping.  Legally, it is irrelevant to the cruise line's duty to warn whether the passenger was previously trying to buy pot or some other "drug." No woman deserves to be raped - regardless of whether they are looking to smoke reefer, drink a pitcher of margaritas, or buy some over-priced jewelry in Cozumel.

Unfortunately this is one of the tactics cruise lines use to destroy the credibility of women raped on cruise ships and in ports of call.    

This is a case certain to go on appeal, and may be reversed by the appellate court. 

 

Photo credit:  Fotki / Mark Chatfield

Violence on Carnival's Freedom Reveals Need for Independent Law Enforcement

A reader of Cruise Law News brought to my attention today a disturbing story found in a cruise review on Cruise Critic. It's written by the mother of four sons who were sailing with a group of seven on the Carnival Freedom this month. 

The review is titled Anarchy on the Freedom.  Take a moment and read it. Mom's two oldest sons, age 22 and 19, were taunted in a nightclub and then viciously assaulted and beaten while they were trying to leave, by an adult and a group of teenagers. The older boy was "was attacked from behind, his hands held behind his back, struck several times on the head and ribs, kicked and then tossed down a flight of stairs . . . "

But Mom was not just concerned that her children were physically beaten but by the way that Carnival treated them afterward.  She was given the run-around, lied to by security, refused the names of the assailants, denied a copy of the security report and told that there were no surveillance video.  Her Fight Aboard Carnival Freedom Cruise Shipoptions were to either hire a lawyer or contact the FBI - neither particularly attractive options I am sure. 

As outrageous as all of this sounds, this is the usual outcome when there is a brawl on a Carnival cruise ship.    

I have attended seven Congressional hearings in Washington D.C. regarding cruise ship safety issues since December 2005. One of the recurring issues discussed before Congress is crime and the cruise lines' failure to respond to the problem.

Yes, you can have an awful lot of fun on a cruise.  But there is no denying that crime occurs on cruise ships. The difference between land based crimes and shipboard crimes is that there is no sense of accountability on cruise ships. Lawlessness prevails.  

The cruise industry states that the "safety of cruise passengers is its highest priority," but that is not remotely true. If you are a victim of a rape or a violent physical assault and battery during a cruise, there is well over a 95% probability that your assailant will not be arrested or prosecuted.  

This is because there are no police officers or sheriff deputies on the high seas. The FBI technically has jurisdiction to investigate crimes involving Americans on cruise ships, even though the ships fly foreign flags of convenience and even when the crimes occur in international waters. But the truth of the matter is that the FBI is not interested in crimes on cruise ships.  Fewer than 5% of cruise ship crimes are ever prosecuted by our federal government.

This leaves the matter of crimes in the hands of the cruise ship security personnel.  Their job, however, is not to arrest anyone but to try and keep a lid on the problem until the cruise ship returns to port where they can get the warring  parties off the ship and then re-rack for another 7 day drunken cruise to Mexico.  

The International Cruise Victims organization has suggested that a law be passed requiring independent law enforcement officers aboard cruise ships, to investigate crimes and hold the bad guys accountable. The cruise lines have fought this vigorously.

The result is what unfolded this month on the Carnival Freedom.  

 

For other stories like this, consider reading:

More Cruise Ship Violence - A Drunken Brawl On Carnival's Dream

Out of Control Cruise Ship Drinking & Violence

Royal Caribbean Passenger Alleges Gang Rape in Cozumel

Cozumel - Cruise Ship CrimeCrimes against women in ports of call is a topic which I write about on a regular basis on Cruise Law News. Cruise lines have a legal duty to warn about the danger of crimes in the ports of call that they sail to on a regular basis.  Cruise lines sell an idyllic image of a care-free tropical vacation, but in reality they know or should know that there are dangers ashore waiting for their passengers.

One country I write about all too often is Mexico.  Drug related crime is increasingly creeping into the port cities. Gang violence will increasingly pose a threat to cruise passengers traveling to Mexico unless things turn around quickly in the future.

But a real threat to female passengers sailing to Mexican ports is violence, including sexual assault, against teenagers and young women.

A case pending in our court system should serve as a wake up call to cruise lines sailing to Mexican ports.  After Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas sailed into Cozumel, a young woman went ashore into the port to shop.  The lawsuit alleges that the cruise line provided her with a map of the shopping locations recommended by Royal Caribbean.  A gang of men brutally raped the young woman while she visited one of the recommended stores.  The lawsuit further alleges that it is believed that the men who raped the cruise passenger worked in the subject shopping area.

Like most crimes against cruise passengers in ports of call, there have been no arrests.  Ostensibly the alleged rapists may still be working in and / or around the shopping area in question.

Does Royal Caribbean warn cruise passengers of this danger?  No.  Cozumel is one of the few ports capable of accommodating the Genesis class cruise ships like the Allure and the Oasis.  No way will Royal Caribbean risk scaring its customers away from Cozumel when it has to sell 11,000 tickets for these two monster ships.

In fact, the cruise line touts Cozumel as one of the safer ports in the world.

Five months after the gang rape of the Royal Caribbean cruise passenger from the Oasis, a Royal Cozumel - Cruise Chip CrimeCaribbean crewmember from the Allure of the Seas was found murdered and floating in the water off of Cozumel.  The cruise line did not alert her or any other crewmembers or passengers of the earlier crime.  Indeed, after the murder Royal Caribbean issued a press release characterizing the crime as "isolated and uncharacteristic for Cozumel."   

It seems that Royal Caribbean forgot about the gang rape a few months earlier? 

The murder, like the rape, remains unsolved.

I have never heard of anyone in Mexico being tried or convicted of a crime against a tourist or a ship employee going ashore. There are several web sites discussing the reluctance of Mexican police to get involved in investigations in cases like this, such as Mexican Vacation Awareness which chronicles crimes and violence against tourists in Mexico.  Some of the local police in Mexico have even been accused of participating in crimes against tourists.

Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean conceal these dangers from their cruise guests.  It appears that even the stores on the cruise line's recommended shopping list may not be safe to visit.

 

Photo credit: AP Photo/Angel Castellanos

Mexican Violence: Does Anyone Cruise to Acapulco Anymore?

"10 Murdered in Mexican Pacific Resort City" reads the headline in Acapulco today, with a photo below of a bloody body lying in from of a scenic beach resort.  After such a horrific headline and photo, no one needs to read the actual article about the mutilated, dismembered and often decapitated bodies dumped in public areas of the Mexican city.

Two weeks ago, some 50 or so headless bodies were dumped on a highway near Monterrey, Mexico. The corpses had been mutilated with the dead's heads, hands and feet all cut off.

The official word from the Mexican authorities is always the same statement, carefully tailored not to scare the tourists and their U.S. dollars away - its just drug violence; don't worry the Zetas drug gang Violence Acapulco Mexico - Cruise Vacationdon't target cruise passengers; violence like this doesn't happen in cruise ports.

Perhaps it's true that there is more violence in a northern land-locked city like Monterrey, but how about a resort and cruise port like Acapulco?

A year and a half ago, USA Today asked the question in an article "Will Cruise Ships Bypass Acapulco Because Of Drug Violence?"  

Which cruise lines today are still sailing to Acapulco or, for that matter, Puerto Vallarta?  

I've written a number of articles about the dangers presented by violence in Mexico:

Two month ago, armed banditos robbed 22 Carnival cruise passengers who were traveling in a bus back to the port in Puerto Vallarta during a Carnival sponsored excursion.

Last November, armed robbers stuck up a Puerto Vallarta jewelry store while a Holland American Line cruise ship was in port.  The U.S. press didn't mention the story.

In October of last year, I posted this article: "Gun Fight in Cabo San Lucas: Is it Safe to Cruise to Mexico?" after an unbelievable gun fight in broad daylight. 

Two years ago, I wrote: "Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines Pull Ships From L.A. Due To Crime In Mexico."

After I wrote my article about the crazy shoot-out in Cabo last year, I received hate e-mails for a couple of weeks. Not from Mexicans, but mostly from U.S. citizens who moved south and are selling real estate or involved in small businesses in places like Cabo or Puerto Vallarta.

There is no question that drug-related violence is out of control in Mexico.  But do U.S. passengers who have never traveled to Mexico really take the time to distinguish Monterrey from Mazatlan when there are reports of a dozen violent murders in a single day?     

An AP article last year said that although port officials and cruise industry representatives have tried to emphasize that most violence in Mexico takes place away from cruise destinations, the message has a hard time "competing with images of beheaded bodies on the news."

Working for the Mexican tourism board or as a travel agent in LA selling cruises to Mexico seems like impossible jobs in the face of such violence.  

My view?  There are a lot of safe cruise itineraries leaving out of Seattle to Alaska I would consider taking long before sailing my family south of the border.  

 

For additional information, consider:

Photo Blog - Drug Related Killings on the Rise in Acapulco

Five People Killed at the Port of Acapulco (March 2012)

How safe is Mexico for Tourists?

In Acapulco, It's Mayhem by the Beach

 

Photo credit: Latin America Herald Tribune / Reuters (photo taken August 2011)

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.  

Drunk & Naked Students Trash P & O Cruise - Ferry

College students, booze and ships are often a recipe for bedlam.  Being "cruise drunk" can lead to violence.  

Spirit of France - Drunk Passengers The media in the U.K. is reporting that around 200 college students headed to France on a skiing trip stripped naked, smashed glasses and overturned furniture during a drunken night of havoc on the P&O Spirit of France. 

The ferry was sailing from Dover to Calais when University of Manchester students clashed with students from the Manchester Metropolitan University in the ship’s bar.

The U.K."s Mail Online writes:

"Passengers, many with young children, had to be moved to a secure room for their own safety. 

Crew members said many of the students, who were going skiing, were drunk before they boarded the ship.

It has been reported that students were seen dancing on the tables and were even exposing themselves.

Men and women are believed to have been streaking and fighting at the bar and a P&O spokeswoman said they were forced to take all non-university passengers to an area of the ship which is usually an exclusive lounge so they were 'out of harm's way'."

P & O stated that it would not permit the students back on the ferry to return to the U.K.

Earlier in the week 100 drunken and brawling young adults were booted from a harbor cruise in Australia. 

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. 

Armed Banditos Rob 22 Carnival Passengers on Excursion in Mexico

The issue of the safety of cruise passengers in Mexico is again in the news with the armed robbery of twenty-two cruise passengers in Mexico on Thursday.

The passengers had sailed to Mexico on the Carnival Splendor and were on an excursion near Puerto Vallarta which was advertised and sponsored by the cruise line.

A Mexican newspaper reports that masked men robbed the passengers at gunpoint when they were returning to the cruise ship in a bus after touring "El Nogalito," a natural park.  The gunmen took off with the passengers billfolds, watches, cameras, cellphones and jewelry.  The newspaper reports that the local authorities initially tried to downplay the incident.

The Puerto Vallarta Robbery is Just Latest Crime Targeting Cruise Passengers

Puerto Vallarta - Cruise Ship  - Crime MexicoCruise lines and the local tourism boards usually respond to these type of crimes against tourists by claiming that they are rare.

In the video below (KCAL-9 / CBS Los Angeles) you can hear travel expert Peter Greenberg, say (excitedly) that armed robbery of cruise tourists in buses is "highly unusual" and an "aberration," while mentioning that he has plans to vacation in Mexico next week. 

But the truth is that crimes like this are not rare at all. U.S. passengers disembarking into Mexico and the Caribbean Islands are increasingly being targeted by criminals in groups.  We hear of virtually no crimes against passengers disembarking in Canada, Alaska or European itineraries.  But Mexico and the Caribbean ports of call, plagued by poverty and drugs, are a different story. The banditos go after the money and jewelry and cruise tourists have both.  Why target a single tourist when you can rob cruise passengers in bulk in buses in remote areas?  

Cruisers are sitting ducks.  Consider that over 100 cruise passengers have been robbed at gunpoint or murdered just in Mexico or the Caribbean islands in the last couple of years:

Eleven Royal Caribbean Cruise Passengers Robbed In Nassau

Eighteen Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Passengers Robbed at Gunpoint in Nassau

Fourteen Passengers Robbed at Gunpoint at Anse-La-Reye Waterfall in St. Lucia

Seventeen Celebrity Cruise Tourists In Bus Robbed in St. Kitts

Royal Caribbean Crewmember Murdered in Mexico 

Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues 

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

Violence Strikes Puerto Vallarta Jewelry Store While HAL Cruise Ship in Port  

More Caribbean Crime - Carnival Cruise Passenger Killed in St. Thomas  

NCL Cruise Passenger Murdered in Guatemala

Passenger From Star Clipper Murdered in Antigua

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

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines Pull Cruise Ships From L.A. Due to Crime in Mexico

Does the Cruise Industry Monitor Crime in Ports of Call? 

Is the cruise industry providing adequate warnings to families of the dangers ashore in the ports chosen by the cruise lines?  It seems to me that unsuspecting cruise guests are being disembarked into increasingly dangerous ports of call in Mexico and the Caribbean.

Expect a lively debate where Mexican officials will understate the problem and the cruise industry defenders will chant "crime occurs everywhere."  But it's only in Mexico and the Caribbean ports where cruise passengers are robbed at gunpoint, literally by the busload.

 

ABC's 20/20 Covers Costa Concordia Disaster (Part 2) Plus Out of Control Cruise Ship Drinking & Violence

ABC Film Crew at Port of Miami - ABC 20/20 - Cruise Ship Drinking and ViolenceLast night ABC News aired a cruise ship special on its 20/20 program about the Costa Concordia disaster.  Narrated by Chris Cuomo from Italy, the one hour program contains an inside look at this latest cruise ship disaster based on interviews with surviving passengers.

You can watch the first segment of the show, which focuses on details of the cruise disaster, here

The 20/20 program also took a hard look at the problem with excessive drinking during cruises.  I learned a new phrase last night, of being "cruise-ship drunk."  You will see lots of videos of passengers being "knee-walking" or "fall-down" drunk.  Not a pretty sight.

The show correctly points out that there is a direct correlation between excessive drinking and violence, which is compounded by the tendency of the cruise lines to push the sale of booze, the insufficient number of security guards, and the absence of an independent police force.  We looked into these problems over the last few years in our articles:

Cruise Ship Brawls - A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships

More Cruise Ship Violence - A Drunken Brawl On Carnival's Dream

Cruise Refunds and a Drunken Backstreet Boy?

Latest Royal Caribbean Rape Allegation Reveals Problem of Underage Drinking on Cruises

Carnival Murder Case Reveals Out of Control Cruise Booze

The 20/20 program includes a few clips of me at the port of Miami explaining the problems of cruise ship drinking and violence.

The segment below is about 5 and 1/2 minutes:  

 

 

Watch the entire 20/20 "cruise confidential" program here.

Video credit:  ABC NEWS / ABC 20/20

Crime Scene on Splendor Cruise Ship? Carnival Won't Say

Professor Ross Klein's website CruiseJunkie contains disturbing comments from a cruise passenger aboard the Carnival Splendor cruise ship who reports that on December 15th during a sailing to the Mexican Riviera a gruesome physical altercation took place in cabin 1306.

Here are the comments:

Carnival Cruise Violence - Cruise Ship"Wild, out-of-control alcohol-fueled domestic fight - starts at 9PM, escalates to most certainly a felony assault (or worse) by 3AM. All kinds of yelling, screaming, howling.  Objects (victim?) thrown against the walls. Finally security responds; victim has blood streaming from her, multiple wounds; others report seeing multiple pools of blood in the room. Around 3:45 AM, Carnival removes the 'guests' and immediately starts the process of cleaning the room up, starting with the blood. 

NO attempt whatsoever to preserve the scene or the evidence.  Staff members will not discuss what happened other than 'it's under control' and 'he won't be a problem.'  Rumor is that the offender was removed from the ship in Puerto Vallarta."

We reached out to Carnival's PR department yesterday who said they would check it out, but no response so far.

It's disturbing to read an account like this particularly after we just reported that a drunken Carnival passenger who beat and strangled his wife to death was sentenced to life in prison.  And should there be any doubt that cruise lines destroy crime scene evidence?  

Does anyone on this cruise have additional information?  Please leave a comment below.

December 21, 2011 Update:  This article was picked up by the popular Cruise Critic online community and posted in a thread on the message board.  How did the concerned Cruise Critic cruise fans react to the bloody crime scene and Carnival's spoliation of evidence? 

Read their comments like  "Doesn't affect me . . .  Who cares . . . Ship happens" which you can read here.  Unfortunately, this type of complacency perpetuates the sorry state of affairs on cruise ships where cruise lines destroy evidence knowing that their fan base doesn't care. 

I think I'll re-name this article "Crime Scene on Splendor Cruise Ship? Carnival Won't Say and Cruise Fans Don't Care."

Carnival Murder Case Reveals Out of Control Cruise Booze

Yesterday there were multiple news accounts of the sentencing of Carnival cruise passenger, Robert McGill, to life in jail for the brutal murder of his wife aboard the Elation cruise ship.

The crime occurred after McGill reportedly drank a half bottle of Mezcal and seven or eight beers while ashore in Cabo San Lucas.  The Southwest Riverside News reports today that McGill was "so inebriated he could not negotiate the ship’s gangplank without assistance upon returning from a shore visit."

After he killed his wife in an intoxicated rage, he cleaned himself up, placed a "do not disturb" sign on the cabin door, and proceeded to the top deck where he drank beers from a bucket as the Carnival Cruise Beer Bucketcruise ship sailed back to San Diego.

It is disturbing to me that the shipboard security would permit a passenger who is so-drunk-that-he-can't walk-straight onto the ship without escorting him to the ship doctor or placing him in the brig until he sobers up.  Certainly the security guards manning the gangway entrances are going to notice someone reeking of booze and stumbling through the metal detector like this.

What are Carnival's procedures when security observes passengers in such a high state of intoxication?  I'm not sure.  I know that many cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean, consider such intoxication to be a violation of the passenger's code of conduct, which permits the cruise line to intervene and place the passengers in the brig for their own safety and that of other passengers.  

But in reality does any cruise line actually enforce this policy?  Did anyone on the Carnival Elation care when McGill stumbled aboard with a gut full of Mezcal and 90 ounces of cervezas consumed ashore in Cabo?

If Carnival had acted responsibly, McGill would have spent the evening and night in the brig to sober up and no one would be reporting on such a violent crime.   But it didn't.  Not only did Carnival let such a drunken passenger onto its ship, but it served McGill a bucket of beer after he killed his wife.  So much for not serving drunks. 

I know, many people reading this will say its not Carnival's fault, its a matter of personal responsibility.  Yes, personal responsibility plays a big part in life.  McGill should have acted Robert McGill - Cruise Ship Booze responsibly and not drank to excess, assuming that alcohol played a part in the murder.  But Carnival has a legal obligation of exercising its corporate responsibility to protect its guests as well.  There is a correlation between drunken passengers on cruise ships and violence, just like a connection between drunken bar patrons and bar fights.  

Two years ago, I blogged about the danger of violence and drunk Carnival passengers - Cruise Ship Brawls - A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships.

You can watch video of drunken passenger fighting in this article from last year - More Cruise Ship Violence - A Drunken Brawl On Carnival's Dream.

In this case, Carnival looked the other way when McGill staggered aboard.  Carnival profited by selling McGill beer later.  Buckets of bud lite beer on Carnival ships go for $25 for five beers, which would cost less than $5 a six pack ashore.

The LA Times has an interesting photo of Mr. McGill being escorted off the crew gangway by a FBI agent, as passengers are seen boarding the passenger gangway above to begin their cruise on schedule.

It seems that Carnival's motto is load em' off, load em' in. Let the drinking begin . . . 

Violence Strikes Puerto Vallarta Jewelry Store While HAL Cruise Ship In Port

There has been a very public debate about the safety of cruise passengers while in Mexican ports.  In June of this year, Princess Cruises pulled out of Puerto Vallarta (and Mazatlan) stating "as the safety and security of our passengers and crew is our highest priority, and based on the continued violence in these areas, we’ve made the decision to cancel our calls to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.”

Puerto Vallarta was not pleased and responded with an accusation that the crime rate was actually higher on Princess' cruise ships  than in this Mexican port. 

Last month Princess announced that it would add these two ports back to its itinerary next year but Puerto Vallarta Mexico Crimewill monitor the violence in Mexico to determine if it would continue to serve the two ports.

Well now we have another violent crime which struck pretty close to apparently unsuspecting Holland America Line cruise passengers as they visited a shopping square near the cruise terminal.  (HAL and Princess are both owned By Carnival).

A Cruise Law News reader brought to my attention that a newspaper in Mexico reports that when a Holland America cruise ship was in port in Puerto Vallarta earlier this month, six armed criminals robbed a jewelry store right across from the ship pier.

The November 1, 2011 article states that six heavily armed men robbed a jewelry store, located at the exclusive Plaza Galleries and got away with millions of dollars of diamonds.

The robbery turned violent as the gunmen repeatedly beat the store manager in the head with a pistol.

The incident occurred around 1:00 in the afternoon while cruise passengers from the HAL cruise ship were in the shopping plaza where the jewelry store is located.  The news article reports "several tourists from Holland America cruise ship, docked at the Maritime Terminal, located across the street, were in the square."

There is no indication that any of the HAL cruise passengers were in danger or even knew of the robbery.  Nonetheless, it is unsettling that heavily armed banditos can stick up an exclusive jewelry store in a shopping square on a port day across from the terminal and get away scott free. 

I wonder if Princess Cruises or HAL even know that the crime occurred?

 

November 25 2011 Update:  "Radio Silence"

"Cruzi" @CruiseCritic had an interesting comment on this story:  " . . . these days there is more "stuff" going on of concern to tourists right in the tourist zone in PV than ever happened in Mazatlan in the tourist zone.  Difference is almost nothing gets press in English from Puerto Vallarta, and no "incident" chatter on forums permitted.  The city relies on tourism nearly 100%.  I also wonder if Holland America is even aware of what went on.  Probably, because it happened under their noses in a mall frequented heavily by passengers.  I just happened across this article searching for something else that just happened there.  Was anyone on the HA ship in Puerto Vallarta on November 1st?  This group has struck again, more than once, alluding capture, but that's not all that's going on there.  Yet, radio silence."  

Photo credit:  informador.com.mx

Gun Fight in Cabo San Lucas: Is it Safe to Cruise to Mexico?

Violence Cabo San Lucas - MexicoNew sources report today that hundreds of people cowered for hours inside a shopping mall in the resort town of Cabo San Lucas today while security forces traded gunfire with armed criminals at the Plaza Sendero shopping center.

A local newspaper in Mexico, Milenio, reports that 12 men armed with high powered rifles (AK-47's), were traveling in three vans (other articles say 3 - 4 men).  When they were observed by police, they retreated into a store at the mall. They were suspected of killing a marine the night before.  There are conflicting stories whether they held 200 of the 600 shoppers hostage.  After a shoot out, three men were arrested according to Borderland Beat.  

This dangerous event occurred after cruise lines like Princess Cruises, its parent company Carnival Cruise Line, and Disney Cruise Line pulled out of Mexican ports such as Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta in the last few months because of fears of violence.

Is it safe to cruise to Mexico when places like Cabo San Lucas turn into a scene from the Wild West?

You can see the gun battle and arrests in the video below:

 

 

October 29, 2011 Update:  The incident may be related to another gun fight broke out late on the night of October 28, 2011 between 11:00 PM and 3:00 AM in Cabo San Lucas "between Mexican military and assumed narco trafficantes."  One soldier and a gunman are dead and two police officers are seriously injured.  A video of the nighttime shooting is below: 

 

 

Video credits: Top - TheRasek79 (YouTube); bottom - BajaWhistleBlower (YouTube)

Photo credits:  Pat Garcia / La Paz, Mexico

October 30, 2011 Update:  Photographs are emerging of the criminals holding hostages (above) and the military responding to the situation (below).  Photos courtesy of Now Public / Pat Garcia, La Paz, Mexico. 

Cabo San Lucas - Crime - MexicoFor other articles about crime in Mexico:

U.S. Travel Warnings to Mexico

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines Pull Ships From L.A. Due To Crime In Mexico

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Tells Princess Cruises: "We're Safer Than Your Cruise Ships!"

Frommer's Is it Safe to Travel to Los Cabos? 

LA Times: Mexico Woos Tourists as U.S. Advises Travelers to Avoid Parts of the Violence-Plagued Country

Fox News: Cruise Ships Avoid Mazatlán Due to Crimes Targeting Tourists 

Cabo San Lucas Heats Up

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Tells Princess Cruises: "We're Safer Than Your Cruise Ships!"

I ran across an interesting article written from the perspective of a Mexican port which one of the cruise lines labeled as too dangerous to visit.

It seems like Princess Cruises has incurred the wrath of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico after the cruise line dropped the port from its cruise itinerary citing "continued violence" as the reason.  USA Today quickly picked up on the story and conducted a poll asking its readers whether cruise lines should Puerto Vallarta - Crime? - Princess Cruises - Mexicopull of of this port which Princess Cruises painted with a broad brush that all-of-Mexico-is-unsafe

Princess spokeswoman Karen Candy told USA Today:  “As the safety and security of our passengers and crew is our highest priority, and based on the continued violence in these areas, we’ve made the decision to cancel our calls to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan.”

But the good people in Puerto Vallarta are pointing out that their city is a heck of a lot safer than the city where the cruise line is headquartered in Southern California or most of the destinations visited by Princess cruise ships such as Bermuda, Bahamas, and Jamaica.  The article is entitled "Princess Cruise Lines: Stop Slandering the Safety of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico."

The article also points out that Carnival Cruises, its owner, as well as Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruises still include the Mexican port on their itineraries.

The article points out that there is a high rate of crime on cruise ships and Princess has had more than its fair share of incidents of sexual assault against women, both passengers and crewmembers, on its fleet of cruise ships.  Are Princess Cruises ships more dangerous than this Mexican port of call?   Is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

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

Mexico, Cruise Ships & Crime Against Women

Thirteen years ago I represented a young woman from St. Augustine, Florida.  She was employed as a cook on a private yacht owned by a multi-millionaire tycoon.  She went ashore to Cabo San Lucas with a group of fellow crew members.  They ended up leaving her in a nightclub and returned to the yacht.  When she tried to walk back to the marina late that evening, four Mexican men abducted her in their car.  They  drove her outside of the city to a remote area.  They then raped her and burnt her naked body with cigarettes.  When the men passed out after drinking tequila and smoking weed, she ran to a highway, flagged down a car, and escaped from her hell in the Mexican desert. 

Her maritime employer, asshole as he was, not only refused to provide her with medical treatment but fired her from her job.  He blamed her for staying out late and drinking at the club.  The kindest thing I can say about the local police in Mexico is that they were indifferent to the young woman's plight.  

When I traveled to Cabo San Lucas, I found the surroundings hostile.  The area surrounding the marina and cruise port seemed menacing.  I have lived outside of the U.S., including in North Africa, but Mexico seemed utterly lawless to me.  The police authorities seemed no different than the banditos.    

My client's situation ended up in litigation based on the yacht owner's failure to warn her of the dangers ashore in Mexico and his refusal to provide her with medical treatment after she was victimized.  After a long protracted battle, she obtained a settlement and tried to move on with her life. 

Her ordeal has always haunted me. 

Cozumel Mexico - Crime - Cruise Ships Ever since then, I have been hyper-sensitive to the vulnerability of women employed on ships sailing around the world. I am apprehensive of the dangers which  await young women as they unsuspectingly walk down the gangplanks into the tropical ports of call which seem so appealing but - in truth - are so, so dangerous.

The recent story about the Royal Caribbean crew member, Monika Markiewicz, from the Allure of the Seas, who disembarked her cruise ship in Cozumel and never returned, brings me back to my client's tortuous ordeal over a decade ago.

There is no indication that Ms. Markiewicz was sexually assaulted, but her employer has publicly stated that she was a "victim of a violent crime while ashore in a remote area in Cozumel."  Did the cruise line warn her and other crew members of dangers ashore in Mexico?   What did the cruise line do once they realized that she did not return to the cruise ship last Friday afternoon?  Did they abandon her as my client was abandoned 13 years ago?  Did they notify the young woman's family in Poland when the cruise ship set sail and left her in Mexico?  Did they contact the Polish Embassy or Consulate?  While heading back to Miami, did the cruise line call the emergency contact telephone numbers which all crew members provide when they join Royal Caribbean?

Is Royal Caribbean going to do anything now?  Its PR spokesperson stated yesterday that the cruise line has no intention of suspending its trips to Cozumel.  Full steam ahead, they say.  When the disastrous earthquake struck Haiti and killed 100,000 people a year ago, Royal Caribbean said that sailing back into the Haitian destination of Labadee was a "no brainer."  So the loss of one of its crew members due to a violent crime in Cozumel is not going to slow it down one bit.  

Royal Caribbean is directing all inquiries regarding the crime to the Mexican police authorities.  But the police have a reputation for incompetence at best and corruption at worst.  I have never heard of anyone in Mexico being tried or convicted of a crime against a tourist or a ship employee on shore leave.  There are several web sites discussing the reluctance of Mexican police to get involved in investigations in cases like this, such as Mexican Vacation Awareness.  And some of the local police in Mexico have even been accused of participating in crimes against tourists.

Many naysayers reading this blog will say "it could happen anywhere."  Others will say "what is a cruise line to do?"  Well we know what Royal Caribbean is doing - sailing to Mexico as if nothing happened.  And pretending the Mexican police will solve a crime against a young woman from Poland victimized in a remote location in a dangerous country. 

More Caribbean Cruise Crime - Crew Member Shot in St. Marteen

The international press is reporting that Gahadhar Pradhan, a crew member (waiter) from P&O's Aurora cruise ship, was pistol-whipped over the head and shot during a mugging while ashore in Philipsburg, on the Caribbean island of St Maarten. 

We first learned of the incident via Crew Member Shot - Caribbean Violence - Cruise Shipone of our favorite cruise blogs by Captain Greybeard in the U.K. 

The crew member was shot in the buttocks, while apparently in an area consisting of "gentleman's clubs," which may tend to make the crime a tad tawdry or humorous depending on how you would like to view it.  

But a matter like this is deadly serious, particularly considering that the local police said "crew members from visiting cruise ships had been attacked on a number of occasions . . . "   This apparently was the first time a crew member had been shot. 

The best source for the story is a local newspaper in St. Maarten, which contains photos (left) of the crime scene.   

We have written many blog posts about violence, and murders, involving cruise passengers and crew members in the Caribbean islands -  Crimes in the Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call.   Just last week, NBC ran a story on the Today Show about crimes against cruise tourists in the Caribbean islands.  

  

 Photo credit:  St. Martin News Network

More Cruise Ship Violence - A Drunken Brawl On Carnival's Dream

Last year I wrote a blog entitled "Cruise Ship Brawls - A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships" addressing the increasing violence on cruise ships.  I posted the following comments and questions: 

"Complicating matters is the huge amount of alcohol which the cruise lines sell to the passengers, which often leads to drunken brawls in the bars and discos and sometimes around the pools. It will be interesting to see how Carnival and the other cruise lines handle the "wider audience" flocking onto the larger cruise ships. If cruise ships are like cities and "stuff happens," what steps are they taking to protect U.S. families?

Will the cruise lines elect to hire a full complement of well trained and experienced Carnival Cruise Ship - Violence - Alcoholsecurity guards?  Or will they continue to try and save money with only 2 or 3 inexperienced "guards" trying to protect 2,000 or 3,000 passengers?"

Well, the answers to these questions may be found in YouTube videos which have surfaced regarding a brawl which broke out in the Caliente Club on Carnival's Dream cruise ship three weeks ago.

The August 12th fight was widely reported by the news media, including Professor's Ross Klein's Cruise Junkie which contained the following account from a passenger: 

"We were on the Carnival Dream sailing 08/07 to 08/14 and heard that a brawl broke out in the dance club around 3:00 a.m. on the morning of the 12th. We heard from passengers and a bartender that the brawl started over a song. It involved so many young people (men and women) that the security on board was unable to handle everyone and had to call in assistance from wait staff and other crew members. The fight spilled over into the art gallery located next door and apparently a $10K painting was ruined with blood spatter. Flat screen tvs were smashed and there was a lot of damage done. We heard that people on the ground were getting kicked in the head by men and women and that one person needed to be revived because he was hurt so badly. We also heard that the crowd spilled out of the dance club and that innocent people were getting punched in the face as they were walking by.

The next morning in Costa Maya there were a bunch of people (10 people) sitting by the side of the ship with all of their luggage as they were kicked off the ship and their relatives were shipped off to Mexican jails. Carnival needs to learn a lesson here and not serve alcohol after a certain time and perhaps shut down the 18+ dance club before 3:00 a.m. Nothing good can come of drunk teenagers at 3:00 in the morning."

An article in Florida Today "10 Cruise Passengers Evicted After Brawl" contained a rather understated PR statement by Carnival:

"A fight occurred on the vessel. It was broken up by ship's security and the cause of the fight was investigated which resulted in 10 guests being disembarked in Mexico . . .  The safety and security of our guests and crew is of utmost importance and we will not tolerate behavior that could put any of them at risk."

Carnival has a problem with way too much alcohol served on their cruise ships and way too few security guards to handle the unruly drunks.  Here are two videos of the fight.  

 

 

 

 

 

Video credits:    i008 YouTube

Photo credit:      Szymek S.'s Flickr photostream

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines Pull Ships From L.A. Due To Crime In Mexico

The Los Angeles Business Journal reports today that Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas and NCL's Norwegian Star are pulling out of Los Angeles because of the increasing violence in Mexico. 

Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas, which had been sailing on 7 day cruises to Mexico, will leave L.A. in January 2011, and will eventually home port in Galveston, Texas.

Cruise Ship Crime MexicoThe newspaper reports that the drug war in Mexico has caused nearly 30,000 deaths since 2007. Passengers on cruises to the "Mexican Riviera" have dwindled by 21 percent.

Norwegian Cruise Line also stated that it will no longer offer cruises to Mexico from Los Angeles after May 2011.  The Norwegian Star is relocating to Tampa, Florida.

The article quotes Cruise Industry News: “People are obviously concerned about the violence and justifiably so . . . they don’t want to get caught in the crossfire.”

Royal Caribbean is quoted saying that the decision to eave L.A. was part due to violence in Mexico and part an economic one: “We’re looking to maximize our profits . . . both Europe and the Caribbean are hotter tickets than the Mexican Riviera, and there’s a stable market out of Galveston.”

The economic factor the article discusses is that the cruise lines earn a lot of money income from shore excursions.  Some passengers fear getting off the ship.

I'm not sure how this is much different from the crime in many of the Caribbean ports of call.

 

Credits:

Photograph     Time

 

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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

Cruise Ship Brawls - A Problem that Will Get Bigger with Bigger Ships

Paul Ash, who writes columns for the Times Live in Johannesburg under the name "The Wanderer," addresses the issue of violence by cruise passengers in an interesting article entitled "Punch-Ups and Brawls on Cruise Ships: Whose Fault is it Anyway?"

The article mentions what is described as a "mini-rampage" on the P&O cruise ship Ventura while the ship was at sea. Also mentioned is the brawl between six Carnival passengers who punched, scratched and bit it out with police in Antigua over a dispute with a taxi driver over, depending on who you believe, either a $50 or $100 taxi fare.

Mr. Ash's article raises a couple of interesting issues. 

Are cruise lines inviting rowdier crowds on board with discount tickets?  And what happens when, as Mr. Ash puts it, "the happy and careless rich collide with the hungry and resentful poor?"

One of the subscribers to this blog commented on an earlier article about the danger presented when vacationing families intersect with the hard partying younger crowd who are enticed to cruise with the lure of cheap three-day booze cruises. I compare the situation to going on a cruise with Kid Rock - I love his music but I wouldn't want to take my family on a cruise with his posse partying next door. 

As reported by Mr. Ash, a BBC2 television host Jeremy Vine recently questioned Carnival CEO Micky Arison about this problem of violence associated with cheap cruise tickets and a more diverse group of passengers.

“Cruise ships are a microcosm of any city or any location and stuff happens . . . The negatives of discounting might be less commission for agents and less revenue for us but the positive is it opens up the product to a wider audience.”

The "wider audience" will undoubtedly include a younger crowd from a different demographic, including what I call the hard partying "Bud Light - tank top" crowd.

Mr. Ash concludes his article with the following thought: 

"I can’t think anything I’d rather less do than go on holiday with five thousand three hundred and ninety-nine other people. Imagine the rush for the boats – or taxis – during shore excursions. Imagine the stress of finding a space by the pool. Or queuing for dinner. One may as well go to the Med and scrap with the Russians and Germans for sun loungers. No wonder people get punchy. Who wouldn’t?"

Complicating matters is the huge amount of alcohol which the cruise lines sell to the passengers, which often leads to drunken brawls in the bar and discos and sometimes around the pools. It will be interesting to see how Carnival and the other cruise lines handle the "wider audience" flocking onto the larger cruise ships. If cruise ships are like cities and "stuff happens," what steps are they taking to protect U.S. families?

Will the cruise lines elect to hire a full complement of well trained and experienced security guards?  Or will they continue to try and save money with only 2 or 3 inexperienced "guards" trying to protect 2,000 or 3,000 passengers?