A 73-year-old cruise line tourist died after being shot by robbers in Santo Thomas de Castilla. The Latin American Herald Tribune identified the victim as Paul Wolfgang Ritter. There has been some confusion regarding his nationality, as different newspapers identified him as either a Dutch or German tourist.
Mr. Ritter was a passenger aboard a NCL cruise ship. Although the name of the ship was not mentioned, NCL has two cruise ships the Norwegian Spirit and the Norwegian Sun which call on Guatemala.
Mr. Ritter was on a paid tour of Santo Thomas de Castilla and was visiting its historic cemetary when two men tired to rob him of his camera and then shot him. The newspaper reported the capture of "two youth gang members" suspected in the murder. The banditos were identifed as gang members because of the tatoos on their faces.
Several newspapers, including CBS News, covering the story also commented on Guatemala’s crime wave that has driven the murder rate up to around 17 a day – a statistic not known by most cruise passengers.
The Latin American Herald Tribune reports that "the more than 5,400 homicides reported last year in Guatemala – a nation of approximately 13 million – was nearly equal to the number of murders in neighboring Mexico, which has more than 100 million inhabitants and is the scene of open warfare among rival drug cartels."
A number of cruise lines other than NCL call on Santo Thomas de Castilla as a regular port, including Holland America Line and P & O Cruises. P & O ‘s website has a section called "About Santo Thomas de Castilla" which promotes a visit to the cemetary as part of its "featured shore excurions:"
Santo Thomas de Castilla lies on Amatique Bay, off the Gulf of Honduras in northeast Guatemala. Belgians settled here in the 19th century and today you can see the cemetery where the pioneers are buried.
Crimes committed against cruise passengers while ashore in ports of call are a concern throughout the Caribbean and Central America. Three weeks ago, Cruise Law News was the first in the U.S. to report that eleven cruise passengers were robbed at gunpoint at a major tourist attraction in downtown Nassau on a Sunday morning – "Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau."
These types of stories do not find themselves being reported in U.S. newspapers. The cruise community ignores them.
Cruise lines are legally obligated to warn passengers of crime dangers in the ports of call they select and advertise for passengers. But don’t expect the cruise line to provide a warning to your family, although some travel agents tell their clients to be careful.
Santo Thomas de Castilla cemetary Marycatherine Flickr Photodtream
Santo Thomas de Castilla shore excursion P & O Cruises