A newspaper in Antiqua reports today about an altercation which allegedly occurred between two cruise passengers & their child and police officers in a souvenir shop in Antigua.

In an article entitled “Cruise Passengers and Police Come to Fisticuffs,” the Antigua Obeserver states that  a souvenir shop in the touristy Heritage Quay section of St. John’s was the scene of a fist fight yesterday allegedly between two police officers and a couple and their child from Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas. The incident occurred in the the Shipwreck Shop whose website shows pirate statues at the shop’s entrance and states that “Shipwreck is the perfect little souvenir shop, filled with Shipwreck Shop - Antigua - Cruise Ship Passengersall sorts of trinkets.” The stores sells an assortment of items including “. . . fridge magnets, shot glasses, key rings and even small Caribbean Christmas tree decorations.”

The incident apparently occurred when a child from the cruise ship broke an item valued at less than $5 (U.S.).  The owner of the store told the newspaper that he informed the passengers of the store’s “You break it, you pay for it” policy, but the parents declined to pay for the item. The owner, who refused to identify himself to the newspaper, apparently called the local police who arrived on the scene.

According to the Antigua Observer, the couple told the police that they were not going to pay for the broken souvenir, and an altercation occurred when they tried to leave the store.

The unidentified shop owner said that the cruise passengers were allegedly hostile to his staff and law enforcement officers.  He says that an apology would have been sufficient but the “child got very abusive.”  The owner further claims that the child was “beating up on the police.” The ship owner further stated: ” We must not allow these people to talk down to us. I only want happy customers. The father and his son got very physical. They were hostile to the police and my staff. The officers were being fair and only doing their job. People have to treat people with respect.”

The newspaper article indicates that the police made no arrest, and the cruise passengers returned to the ship.

The newspaper further states that the island’s Ministry of National Security was notified and paid a visit to the souvenir shop to investigate.

The newspaper contains a second curious twist stating that the cruise ship’s captain allegedly apologized to the shop owner the passengers’ behavior and said “he would be asking them to disembark at the next port.”

This is rather unusual because cruise lines like Royal Caribbean tell the cruise passengers that they are on their own while ashore. However, the cruise line Guest Conduct Policy states that its standards of conduct for guests to follow apply “throughout their Royal Caribbean International cruise vacation, including transfers to and from ships, inside terminals, while onboard, at ports of call, during shore excursions and at our private destinations.”

It will be interesting to see if the cruise line dumps the family off at the next port, or whether the captain threatened this merely to placate the shop owner and the island’s National Security.

A strange story in any event, this is something that begs hearing the passenger’s side of these events.

We have reported about all types of things which occur involving cruise passengers ashore in Antigua, such as a young woman being murdered and cruise passengers attacked and robbed and six cruise passengers from Brooklyn arrested after disputing a cab fare and fighting with the police in Antigua. For one, I’d like to understand why the Antigua Ministry of National Security got involved in an altercation involving a broken souvenir trinket worth less than $5.

January 5, 2013 Update:  Another newspaper contains the “other side of the story.”  Caribarena Antigua states that “eyewitness reports from taxi drivers in the area suggests that the police officers were the aggressors, having reportedly “roughed up” the lad in front of his parents and as they interjected they too became victims, with even the pregnant mother receiving a thug or two.”

“The family was eventually ordered and escorted back to the ship by a senior officer who arrived on the scene. And during that journey, the child is reported to have wetted himself out of fear.”

Irrespective of what occurred, news accounts of a broken trinket, a boy who wets himself, a pregnant mother, and a violent encounter with police will surely cast a black eye on Antigua.

In an unrelated article in the Antigua Oberserver today, tourism officials state that they are optimistic about attracting cruise visitors to Antigua this year.

The brawl in the tourist area comes at the same time that Antigua announced that it formed a new police unit to protect tourists from crime.


Photo: Shipwreck Shop

  • Lori

    Thank you for the information. It sounds like Antigua may need to go the way of St Croix. Tourist should act responsibly. Shopkeepers and tourist officials should take note that having something this trivial blow up to the point of involving the police only serves as fair warning to cruisers like me to stay clear and to keep my self and my money on the ship when in their port. Sounds like the shop keeper may have realized this and started to crawfish. Too little, to late.

  • R. Batt

    Where can I get a complete list of vacationers vs. Loclas? Keep the stories coming…. fascinating! It certainly has an impact on where I’m going to spend my hard earned money. Respect is a two way street Islanders!

  • Noel

    Antigua is the worst place to visit for cruise passengers. My experiences are too many to list here but I will attempt a few:
    Taxis and buses are a rip-off. They quote one price and change in the middle of the tour. They will get abusive and try to initmidate tourists to pay higher than quoted prices.
    Worst customer service in the world. When you visit shops and stalls, the vendors and store workers behave as if you are an interruption. We went into shops along the port and nobody offer to assist us to make purchase. When the bus drive stopped at stalls along the road the vendors just continue eating and talking among themselves instead of greet shoppers.
    The island boast 365 beaches. The beach areas are dirty and the citizens are always harassing tourists for money and pushing marijuana for sale.
    The first thing that greet us tourists when we disembark at the port are children and adults in rags begging for money. Not to mention the piles of garbage and old motor vehicles that greet you when the ship sail into the harbour.
    The attractions need to be maintained. They are run-down and dirty and they do not worth the fees charge for entry. The Nelson’s Dockyard is a total disappointment and the government should be ashamed of what they allow the place to become – a total wrech.

  • The issue raised by the story is not the wealth or poverty of Antigua but the character of the store owner and the cruise passengers. Were these arrogant U.S. passengers who didn’t supervise their child, or an over-zealous shop owner and local police who made the situation worse, or a combination of the two? I don’t know. I was not there. So far the passenger’s version has not been told.

  • My country is a tourism destination which at times, I think goes too far out of its way to treat tourist like royality and sometimes you get the feeling that they believe they can flout laws and disrespect citizens. But I have also met some ‘good’ tourist.
    I believe that each case must be judged on merit and as Jim Walker noted we are not armed with all the facts. So we need to reserve judgement.
    It pains me as a Caribbean person, that Noel would have such an unflattering description and he should have reported his experiences to the Antigua authorities who I believe would have dealt with such problems.

  • Shelly

    I have been to Antigua with my family and saw first hand how pushy the locals can be. In fact, all the islands we have been to, the locals are a bit pushy to sell their product or service, and are overall a bit sketchy. That is why we always have a heightened awareness on these islands. They do not live by the same rules as us in the U.S., therefore, we don’t have the same rights and/or protection. We are always on guard and aware of our surroundings. Although it’s a bit weird that the police in Antigua would get involved over a $5 item, I do think the parents put themselves in this position. I would never think for a second that if my child broke an item in a store that I would not be responsible for paying for it. How ignorant of the parents to not see their responsibility to watch what their child is doing, instructing him/her to not touch anything, or paying for any mishap at the hands of their own child. For God’s sake, it is was only $5. Pay the damn measly $5 and walk away. Again, the rules are not the same as in the U.S., so don’t expect them to be enforced the same way. Clearly, the police used unnecessary and excessive force to deal with this problem — by U.S. standards — but, oh yeah, it’s not the U.S. Don’t be stupid when you are on these islands, especially over $5. What a fine example these parents set for this child — not showing responsibility for something you break; fighting with the store clerk; fighting with the police — all things I would never exhibit in front of my children.

  • Sirrah

    Our family were there when this all happened and it was very frightening.

    I agree with Shelley’s article on 10th January. In our case we were English tourists and not on a cruise. The shopkeepers in general were very pleasant and we didn’t find them too pushy.
    It appeared that the reaction by the police was rather over the top, but none of this would have happened if the parents had initially apologised and if needs be paid for the breakage. That would be what most parents would have done but not these tourists!

    I thought it was a bad day for all,made worse by some tourists even videoing this brawl!!!!


  • Reading this is truly sad. I would love to hear more from the passengers. What is their experience and story. Yes, this Island can have some not all over zealous shopkeepers and there is begging the second you arrive, however how many other Islands are just like this?

    These situations benefit no one. Negative press like this hurts the Island tourism and travel industry as a whole. Best all work on improving their understanding and expectations of this exchange.

  • Peter

    I find many cruise passengers are very rude to others. I’ve done 18 cruises in a 5 year period, 5 in the past year. I’ve seen many crew members and workers at various ports take a verbal beating from cruise line passengers. They seem to think its okay to treat people giving them any type of service, poorly. The $5 should of been paid, you broke it, nothing else matters. Too many parents let their children run amuck and think its okay to do so. I like it when I see someone removed from a cruise ship due to a breaking of policy. It makes a big statement, and means to me that my cruising experience is just that much better without the riffraff.