Nassau’s venerable newspaper, the Nassau Guardian, published two interesting headlines in its weekend edition.
The first headline was "Oasis Makes Grand Arrival."
The second? "Record-Breaking Murder Count."
The newspaper reports that the arrival of Royal Caribbean’s new mega-ship Oasis of the Seas brought out the Government of the Bahamas in great display. 200 government officials were in attendance as the Oasis arrived in Nassau Harbour.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham presided over a "Plaques and Keys" ceremony welcoming the cruise ship to the country. The Prime Minister boarded the ship along with hundreds of government officials to meet and greet Royal Caribbean International President Adam Goldstein and the Master of the vessel, William Wright.
The newspaper also reports that the Bahamas Defense Force Band played with great fanfare, as it welcomed the 4,000 Royal Caribbean passengers into the country.
Perhaps it was only fitting that the Bahamas had a military band in attendance given the recent high profile robberies of cruise passengers. 29 passengers were robbed at gunpoint in Nassau in the last two months, including Royal Caribbean passengers who paid for cruise sponsored excursions.
We have reported on this before in Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues.
The newspaper quotes the new Commissioner of Police, Ellison Greenslade, that crime in the Bahamas is at a significant and unacceptable level:
"This year our country has experienced one of the highest murder rates in its entire history. Individuals are now concerned because crime has crept into our number one industry [and] the lifeblood of our economy, tourism. The Royal Bahamas Police Force is mandated to act and act we must."
The Bahamas has invested heavily into its relationship with Royal Caribbean. It just spent over $40 million dollars to dredge the port to accommodate the cruise line’s new mega-ship.
There are around 2 million cruise passengers a year who venture into Nassau, each spending at least $100 in addition to the head taxes.
An article in the Bahamas Tribune entitled "Welcome Oasis" suggests that the number may be as high as 2.8 million cruise passengers who enter the Bahamas. Each cruise line collect tens of millions of dollars selling excursions into the Bahamas.
Cruise tourism in Nassau is big business. Hundreds of millions dollars exchange hands between the U.S. passengers, the Miami based cruise lines, the Bahamian government, and the local vendors in Nassau.
But If substantial monies are not wisely invested into additional and better trained police officers to protect the cruise tourists (not to mention the citizens of the Bahamas), the headlines of the Nassau Guardian may be:
"Crime Increases" and "Oasis Makes Grand Departure."
Nassau Guardian Nassau Guardian
Bahamas Government Officials BIS photo/Derek Smith via The Bahamas Weekly
Bahamas Defense Force Band Robin Whachell via the Bahamas Weekly
Oasis of the Seas BIS photo/Derek Smith via The Bahamas Weekly