The Tribune newspaper in Nassau reports on a controversy which developed when a Miami-based cruise line apparently banned its passengers from buying items at the local straw market due to fear that the straw may be infested with a pest called the "red palm mite."
The Tribune says that Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) has apparently prohibited straw crafts from being brought back on its cruise ships in Nassau for the past several weeks.
Tourism officials told the Tribune that the ban was connected to the infestation of the palm mite in the Caribbean. However, Bahamas allegedly has no incidents of palm mite infestation according to the tourism officials. They also say that the straw in the Bahamas is cured anyway.
Local vendors are complaining that NCL cruise passengers are saying that anything they buy in the straw market will be confiscated by cruise ships guards when they return to the ship.
According to the Tribune, the tourism officials have tried to resolved the issue with NCL and have alerted the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association about the problem.
The issue shows how dependent the Bahamas is on cruise ship tourists.
NCL sails nearly 15,000 passengers to Nassau on a regular basis on five cruise ships – the Breakaway, Gem, Pearl, Sky, and Getaway.
Photo Credit: University of Florida