Three cruise visitors to Antigua, two from an unidentified MSC cruise ship and one from the P&O Brittania, were recently attacked and robbed in St. John’s in separate crimes according to the Antigua Observer.

The two crimes were violent.

The local police arrested two men, 20-year-old Joel Richards and 19-year-old Anderson Garcia, who are accused of aggravated robbery on February 1st of French visitors Jacques Colbert and Christiane Marcelle Drouth who were visiting from an unidentified MSC cruise ship.

The newspaper states that around 11 a.m. on February 1st, the couple were sightseeing nearby a tower when they were attacked and robbed by two men.  The attackers reportedly wrestled a handbag from the 62-year-old woman and stabbed her 70-year-old companion in the abdomen, before running off.

The newspaper indicates that the local police responded and, after waiting for an ambulance, they transported the injured man to the hospital, where he was admitted and treated.

A second crime occurred a few days earlier when a U.K. national was beaten and robbed. The victim is Michael Maycock, who arrived on P&O’s cruise ship Brittania on January 28th.

Mr. Maycock was reportedly sightseeing around midday at the St John’s Cathedral in the city when a man attacked him with a piece of wood. The man beat him with the object, pushed him to the ground and took away his wallet which contained US $100 and debit cards.

I named Antigua as the seventh most dangerous cruise destination in the world several years ago after several cruise passengers were robbed and a young woman visiting the island from Star Clippers was murdered. I wrote at the time:

“. . . like other beautiful but impoverished islands in the Caribbean, Antigua seems like paradise but it has seen more than its share of tragedies. The murder of a young woman during a cruise for her sister’s wedding led to the cruise company dropping the island as a port of call, but it quickly returned.”

Have a comment? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Antigua Global Ports Holding Plc.

The Minister of Tourism (MOT) for the Bahamas yesterday denied claims recently made in a travel agent’s YouTube video that Nassau is a dangerous port for cruise passengers, according to a newspaper article in the Bahamas titled MOT refutes claims made in YouTube video about Nassau port.

The YouTube video in question, styled “the 10 most dangerous ports and how cruise lines are solving the problem,” was posted about a week ago on a popular YourTube channel, operated by a Canadian with an interest in cruising, named “Travelling With Bruce.” The YouTube page discusses “cruise ship news and trends” and live streams at 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday.

The video claims that Nassau is the most dangerous destination in the world for cruise ship passengers.

The Bahamian MOT released a statement  that it “maintains an active dialogue with cruise lines as both parties look to navigate a mutually beneficial relationship.” This follows a dispute which arose a month ago when Royal Caribbean was warning passengers on its cruise ships of the high rate of crime in Nassau.  The Crew Center website, in an article titled Royal Caribbean Issues Letter Warning Cruise Passengers of Crime in Nassau, reported that Royal Caribbean passengers on the Allure of the Seas received a letter signed by the vessel’s master, stating in part:

“We feel it is important to make our guests aware that Nassau has been experiencing an increase in crime. Non-violent crimes, such as theft of personal items, are the most common types of crimes being committed. It is important to note that thousands of visitors routinely travel to Nassau without incident. However, visitors to Nassau, like visitors to all major foreign cities in the world today, need to be mindful of their personal safety.”

The popular Cruise Radio blog then covered the issue in Cruise Line Issues Warning About The Bahamas. This article got the attention of the Bahamas Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar who claimed that he was “blindsided” by the Royal Caribbean warning regarding Nassau.

A newspaper in Nassau, the Tribune, then covered the tourism minister’s denials that Nassau has a problem with crime in which he stated: “I don’t know of any major or significant crime happening to a cruise passenger in quite some time. . . I don’t know about petty crime, but in my humble opinion Nassau is as safe as any other city.”

Other newspapers then carried the news that Royal Caribbean had issued a crime warning for Nassau, Bahamas which seemed to motivate the minster to voice his complaints to Royal Caribbean. The cruise line then rescinded its warning about crime in Nassau, even though it was a watered down version of the official U.S. warning issued by the state department, nearly a year earlier, which urged visitors to exercise increased caution in the Bahamas due to crime:

“Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault is common, even during daylight hours and in tourist areas . . .  Jet-ski operators are known to commit sexual assaults against tourists, including minors. . . ”

Canada also warned tourists to exercise a high degree of caution in Nassau in its own advisory on December 20, 2018. Like the U.S. warning, Canada listed armed robberies, burglaries, purse snatchings, theft, fraud and sexual assaults as the most common crimes against travelers.

According to the Tribune in its article Royal Backdown Over Crime Alert, Royal Caribbean agreed to replace the cruise line warning “effective immediately” with a “generalised warning to Royal Caribbean passengers that does not mention Nassau by name and could be taken as referring to any of its ports of call.”

Fort Lauderdale’s Sun-Sentinel reported that Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Tracy Quan verified that the cruise line agreed to issue only a generic warning about Nassau stating that it is no different than any other city.

But the dispute between the Bahamas and Royal Caribbean last past month escalated to accusations made by the Tribune newspaper in Nassau that it is more dangerous to cruise on ships operated by a Miami-based cruise line than it is to vacation in Nassau.

Last month, the Tribune focused on the statistics regarding crimes on cruise ships which are maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In an article titled Sexual Assaults The Most Reported Criminal Activity On Cruise Ships Making Calls To The United States, the Tribune newspaper concluded that “allegation of sexual assault remain the most reported criminal activity on board cruise ships making calls to the United States . . .  For the past three years, alleged incidents of sexual assault represented more than 60 percent of criminal activity reported by vessels under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA). This trend follows for major cruise lines with routes to The Bahamas, like Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean. In 2017, 76 percent of reported crimes on board Carnival vessels were for sexual assault; as was 68 percent of crime reported on board Royal Caribbean vessels.”

The irony of the latest controversy about the high crime rate in Nassau is that Travelling with Bruce’s 10 most dangerous cruise ports” is exactly the exact same top ten list which I published in 2014Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World. I selected Nassau, Bahamas as the most dangerous cruise destination in the world, followed by Roatan (Honduras), Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, St. Kitts-Nevis, Antiqua, Unites States Virgin Islands, El Salvador and St. Lucia. Travelling with Bruce’s next nine dangerous ports are also identical in order.

Five years ago, the Bahamian press extensively covered Nassau being named as the port dangerous cruise port in the world.

If I were to prepare another top-10-dangerous-cruise-ports list today, I would probably include Jamaica as well.

Have a comment? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Video: Travelling with Bruce

 

The U.S. and Canada both started issuing travel warnings for cruise vacationers. The U.S. started issuing travel warning at the end of December 2018 and Canada began issuing travel advisories two weeks ago.

The U.S. State Department also recently began posting warnings on Twitter regarding certain dangers about cruise ships and ports of call. Its Travel – State Dept‏  page links to an internet travel page addressing certain security issues on cruise ships and in port of call.

The page is titled Cruise Ship Passengers and lists certain steps which the State Department recommends taking “before the cruise” (research the destination, take your passport, obtain the necessary visas and obtain medical, emergency evacuation, and other insurance to cover unexpected travel expenses, etc.) as well as “during the cruise” (remain vigilant, limit your alcohol intake, ensure cabin safety and make sure the door and balcony are properly locked at all times, and store travel documents and valuables in a secure location, etc.).

Canada also just started posting similar travel warnings on its official travel page. The Canadian travel advisories includes many of same “common sense” issues about obtaining insurance mentioned by the U.S.  But like the U.S. site, Canada also warns it citizens to:

  • Avoid becoming the target of an assault or robbery by . . . staying in public areas when interacting with other passengers and ship staff;
  • Never leave your food or drinks unattended; and
  • Ensure cabin safety by keeping the door and balcony properly locked at all times.

I was particularly surprised to see the posting on Twitter this week from the U.S. State Department’s Twitter page ():

Researching the safety records of local tour operators may sound like a good idea, but the fact of the matter is that cruise lines don’t disclose the name or contact information of the local companies which operate the excursions. So it is impossible for cruise travelers to research the safety record of a local company, in the Caribbean for example, even if they wanted to. Yes, such local companies often use improper equipment (open air buses, no seatbelts, etc.) with unqualified employees (particularly bus drivers who drive recklessly), which can lead to accidents, injuries and even deaths, but there is zero chance of a cruise passengers ever learning this information despite trying to research the excursion beforehand.

Cruise lines also usually promote their cruise excursions as the “best,” using the “best” tour operators and the “best” equipment without clearly explaining that they cannot really vouch for the operators who will actually be taking families on the excursions.  After a passenger is killed or seriously in a cruise sponsored cruise excursion, like this case or this one, the cruise lines will always deny liability for the accident and claim that the local tour operator is an independent contractor for whom the cruise line has no control, despite their advertisements to the contrary.

The State Department also warns cruise tourists to be aware of crime in certain port of call (these type of warning are not new).  It provides links to safety and security issues in many port countries.  We recommend that families, who decide to cruise, review the State Department crime warnings carefully. Reading the local newspapers in port cities is also a good idea.  Many cruise lines routinely take their passengers into dangerous ports without warning, particularly in port in the Caribbean like Nassau.

For example, the State Department has repeatedly warned travelers to Nassau, Bahamas to avoid jet ski operators who have sexually assaulted several young women at the beaches in that destination. The State Department’s link below on Twitter is rather nebulous but the crime situation in Nassau (“exercise increased caution in The Bahamas due to crime” – CLICK MORE – “Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assault is common, even during daylight hours and in tourist areas . . .   Jet-ski operators are known to commit sexual assaults against tourists, including minors”) can be easily accessed at the State Department’s website.

The new governmental warnings by the U.S. and Canada reflects the reality of ongoing dangers on cruise ships and in ports of call. These sites are worth reviewing and researching before a family thinks that they are embarking on a carefree cruise to an idyllic island in the Caribbean.

Have a comment? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Two German passengers from a the AidaPerla were reportedly attacked in a botched robbery in Castries, St Lucia yesterday morning, according to a local newspaper in St Lucia.

The St Lucia Times stated that “two young thugs pounced” on a mother and daughter from the German cruise ship when they exited from a park near the cruise port in Castries around 10:00 a.m. yesterday morning.

Two local, young men attempted to snatch a small bag from one of the cruise tourists. Their screams attracted the attention of other visitors to the park and the two robbers fled empty-handed, leaving the two German women with multiple abrasions due to the attack.

Earlier last week, several people were mugged in the nearby area including a couple who were reportedly robbed at gunpoint in the park (Serenity Park) in question.

In the video below, a news station in St. Lucia reports that armed bandits robbed a couple of their “bags, phones and wallets” a few days ago in the park in question. The security guard interviewed in the video was also reportedly robbed in the park as well.

Serenity Park is listed as one of the “things to do” by tourists, according to the city of Castries.

The violent attempted robbery comes at a time when the international media is focused on the murder of a British citizen, Robert Hathaway, who managed a marina south of the Castries’ cruise port. The Telegraph newspaper recently published an article titled Murder in Paradise: the Dark Side of Life in St Lucia which also focused on the murder of Mr. Hathaway’s friend, Roger Pratt, another U.K. citizen, who was killed by intruders aboard his yacht in St. Lucia several years ago.

Crimes against cruise tourists is nothing new for St. Lucia. In 2013, fifty-five Celebrity Cruises passengers (photo right) and two crew members were robbed at gun point in St. Lucia during a cruise sponsored excursion. Earlier,  fourteen NCL cruise passengers were robbed at a popular tourist attraction Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia.

NCL temporarily dropped St. Lucia as a port in 2010 because of attacks on cruise passengers which occurred on three occasions while the cruise passengers were sight-seeing on the island. In 2015, newspapers in St. Lucia reported that the president of the St. Lucia Vendors association was concerned that crime against passengers was again prompting cruise lines to consider dropping St. Lucia as a port of call.

Following several of the violent crimes against tourists, the St Lucia Tourist Board erroneously claimed that such dangerous incidents had “never happened before on the island,” as we pointed out in “Liar, Liar Pants On Fire? St. Lucia Tourism Board Denies Prior Armed Robbery of Cruise Passengers.”

In 2014, we named St. Lucia to our list (as #10) of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World. You can read reactions to that article by St. Lucians in the comments to the article in a local newspaper in St. Lucia titled “St. Lucia ranked in top 10 most dangerous cruise destinations in the world.”

St. Lucia reports that tourism has nonetheless increased in 2018 with 1.2 millions tourists, including 800,000 cruise passengers, visiting the island last year. Local politicians warn that crimes against tourists will have a chilling effect on tourism.

Many people who are inclined to defend the tourism industry in St. Lucia may say things like “crime happens everywhere” or point to violent U.S. cities like Chicago.  But the fact is that St. Lucia as a country has a per capita murder rate in 2017 of over 33 homicides per 100,000 (up from around 20 per 100,000 in 2012) and around 24 homicides per 100,000 in 2018 whereas an admittedly deadly city like Chicago has a 2017 per capita homicide rate of around 24 per 100,000. The U.S. as a country has a per capita homicide rate of less than 5 per 100,000.

Have a comment? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Image credit: Top – Goggle map; middle – DBS TV St. Lucia via the Times (following bus robbery) via YouTube; bottom – Castries cruise port –  stlucianewsonline; video bottom – MBC PRIME NEWS -St. Lucia 

A sixty-nine year old U.S. citizen, originally from California, was identified yesterday as the victim of an abduction and murder in Roatan, Honduras, according to a Honduran newspaper El Heraldo.

The newspaper reports that the body of Philip Foster Brown was found in a ravine near a road leading from West End to West Bay in Roatan on Tuesday.  Mr. Brown, who had lived on the island of Roatan in a community on West Bay for several years, disappeared from his home several days ago, leaving a large pool of blood on the porch of his house.  His corpse was found yesterday wearing only shorts with a bag over his head.

Mr. Bown was one of three “foreigners” (i.e., not Honduran) in Roatan who died under mysterious circumstances according to the Honduran press.

Roatan is a popular port which is heavily marketed as a paradise getaway by Miami-based cruise lines like Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean.

We have written about cruise passengers and at least one crew member who have been victimized in violent armed robberies over the years in this idyllic yet dangerous destination, earning it a spot (#2) on my list of the ten most dangerous cruise port in the world several years ago.

As we wrote before, like many other Caribbean islands, the police in Roatan are either indifferent or corrupt. The legal system is somewhere between barbaric and non-existent.  Crimes against U.S. citizens are rarely solved or prosecuted.

Since 2010, Honduras has had one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world, ranging between 59 and 86 per 100,000 according to the U.S. Department of State.  Honduras is far more deadly than even the most violent U.S. cities.  Chicago, for example, has a per capita murder rate of 24 per 100,000. (The per capita homicide rate in the U.S. is a little over 4 per 100,000).

The U.S. State Department states that: “Roatan and the Bay Islands are geographically separated from and experience lower crime rates than on the mainland and other Caribbean islands; however, thefts, break-ins, assaults, rapes, and murders do occur.”

The State Department Crime and Safety Report also states that “Cruise ship passengers should take safety precautions, avoid unfamiliar areas, and book only with reputable tour companies during their stopover. Cruise lines and port agencies have approved tour companies offering packages. Port agencies have worked to improve taxi service to/from ports. The vast majority of cruise line passengers experience no problems, but incidents of armed robbery (like this one) and carjacking have been reported.”

November 23, 2018 Update: A resident of Roatan who does not feel comfortable revealing her name left this comment: ” I live on Roatan. Over the last ten days there has been three kidnappings/abductions (including Phil Brown) resulting in probable homicides. There are 4 additional murders, 2 shootings in Los Fuertes and 2 stabbing deaths. That’s 7 total. Unreported, downplayed and hushed up.  No increase in police or military as has happened in past crime waves. No actions from local or national govt. There has been lots of armed robberies often with victims threatened with guns of knives to throats. Please help get the word out to cruisers. Big companies should stop coming here now.”

Have a comment? Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page

Photo credit: El Heraldo.

According to ABC News in Australia, a cruise passenger was arrested after he tried to throw his partner overboard from Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas.

According to the Mercury newspaper, witnesses heard screaming followed by an emergency alarm.

The Daily Mail identified the cruise passenger as David James Fysh.  According to the Epoch Times,  a fellow passenger commented on the Tasmania Police Facebook page that the woman was covered with bruises.

The incident, which the police in the next port of call in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia called a “family violence incident,” reportedly occurred last night around 3:30 a.m. The police boarded the cruise ship this morning in Hobart, arrested a 46 year-old man from Queensland and charged him with attempted murder.

The man appeared in the court in Hobart this afternoon and was remanded into police custody.

Domestic disturbances of this type occur more frequently than the cruise lines would like to admit.

Just last week, a cruise passenger assaulted his girlfriend and choked her until she passed out during a cruise to the Bahamas on an unidentified cruise ship. Two weeks ago, a woman slashed / stabbed her boyfriend with a steak knife aboard the Carnival Fantasy. Last month, another Carnival cruise passenger was indicted for throwing his girlfriend from the couple’s balcony on the 14th deck down down to the 11th deck on the Carnival Elation which sailed from Jacksonville to Freeport in the Bahamas.

The most recent publicized incident involved a husband who murdered his wife aboard the Emerald Princess during a cruise to Alaska last year.

We have written about cruise ship murders (typically of women) during cruises in the past.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: Bahnfrend – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York  alleged yesterday that a cruise passenger, identified in court papers as Carlos Batista Jr. of Elmhurst, New York, assaulted his girlfriend and choked her until she passed out during a cruise to the Bahamas.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office published a copy of a grand jury indictment that the cruise passenger strangled and suffocated his girlfriend on September 8th on an unidentified cruise ship which sailed from New York early last month.

Mr. Batista reportedly “grabbed, dragged, pushed and pulled” his girlfriend through the hallway of the cruise ship after an argument.  Mr. Batista allegedly covered the mouth and restricted the breathing of his girlfriend until she lost consciousness. The court records identifies her only as “victim – 1.”

The U.S. government alleges that Mr. Batista dragged the woman into their  cabin and continued to choke her until others on the ship, responding to the woman’s screams, entered the cabin, according to a press release by the Department of Justice.

The crime is alleged to have occurred after Mr. Batista’s girlfriend told him that she wanted to end their relationship of a year, according to a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.

The FBI routinely does not mention the names of the cruise line or cruise ship where crimes occur, even though federal law requires cruise lines to disclose crimes such as assault and sexual assault via a portal maintained by the Department of Transportation. The DOJ identified the cruise ship only as “vessel – 1” in the complaint which it filed.

There have been a number of recent “domestic disturbances” during cruises in the last couple of months.  Earlier this month, a cruise passenger on the Carnival Fantasy was indicted earlier this month after she reportedly pulled a steak knife and cut her boyfriend during an altercation.  In August, a 53 year-old man was arrested for murdering his girlfriend on the Carnival Elation.

Have a comment? Please join the discussion on our Facebook page.

A United States District Court in Mobile, Alabama charged a Carnival cruise passenger with assault pursuant to a federal statute, 28 U.S.C. 113.

Jenetrice Williams of Birmingham, Alabama was taking a cruise on the Carnival Fantasy on August 19, 2018 when she allegedly “pulled a knife during an altercation with her boyfriend, Michael Carter.”

According to the probable cause affidavit, signed by an investigating police officer,  Ms. Williams “did produce a knife during an argument with her boyfriend. The defendant had a steak knife in her purse that she claims she brought from home and knowingly brought it on the cruise ship Carnival Fantasy.” She allegedly “purposely slashed / stabbed at the victim causing cuts to the victim’s left hand and right leg. The defendant was restrained by ship security.”

Comments posted on our Facebook page raised predictable questions:

  • How was it possible to sneak a knife past Carnival’s “highly trained security staff”?!?
  • And I can’t bring my water with me anymore, WTF?

Ms. William’s boyfriend left a comment on Facebook with a photo of him and his girlfriend only a few days before being knifed, stating “Coolin on the ship. No matter what enjoy life.”

Carnival Cruise Lines has experienced a number of deadly “domestic disturbances” in the past.  Last month, a 53 year-old man was arrested for murdering his girlfriend on the Carnival Elation.

The federal court records indicate that Ms Williams has been ordered to appear at a hearing which is scheduled for  October 10, 2018.

Photo Credit: Violation notice and probable cause affidavit – U.S. District Court, Southern District Alabama, Mobile, Alabama.

A resident of New Jersey has been arrested and charged with taking an “upskirt” picture of a girl on a cruise ship.

The United States’s office recently released a press statement alleging that cruise passenger Jeffrey Goldstein violated a “voyeurism” statute, which prohibits the photographing of a person’s private area without consent when that individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

According to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in federal court in New Jersey, the 31-year-old man went on a cruise ship from Bayonne, New Jersey to Bermuda  on July 8 when he approached a 13-year-old girl who was standing on the deck of the cruise ship, facing toward the water. He placed his iPhone under the child’s dress without her knowledge or permission and then walked away.

Another cruise passenger observed Goldstein taking the photograph and notified the cruise ship personnel who, in turn, reviewed surveillance video and contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The FBI later obtained a search warrant and downloaded the contents of Goldstein’s iPhone and found the photo of the girl, along with 42 other similar “up-skirt” images.

Goldstein faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. He appeared on the voyeurism charge before a federal judge in Newark federal court on Wednesday and was was released on a $25,000 bond.

The press release from the U.S. attorney’s office did not reveal the name of the cruise line or cruise ship where the crime took place. Taking secret “upskirt” photos and video voyeurism in public places obviously occurs everywhere and can and does occur on cruise ships as well.

Last year, a passenger on the Carnival Fantasy located a spy camera and transmitter in his family’s cabin.

Join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) announced yesterday that a grand jury indicted a man  from Jacksonville, Florida for aggravated sexual abuse by force of a young woman on Carnival cruise ship. The FBI announced the news via a press release.

The indictment arises out of a incident which occurred on February 27, 2018 on the Carnival Elation when a 23 year old man  reportedly sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman with special needs during a cruise to the Bahamas. The incident occurred in a hot tub aboard the Carnival cruise ship.

According to the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA), cruise lines are required to report Carnival Elationcrimes to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Last year, 35 passengers and crew members reported being victims of sexual sexual attacks on Carnival Cruise Line ships, for an an average of three a month.

The FBI identified Brian Holland as the assailant.

The FBI earlier released a statement about the incident, saying: 

. . . agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation were notified by the security department of the Carnival Cruise Line vessel Elation that a passenger onboard the ship had been involved in an incident of sexual abuse on February 27, 2018. The victim stated that she was in the Jacuzzi with Holland on the cruise ship when he kept attempting to put his arm around her and she attempted to move further away from him. Holland then tried to put his hand on her shoulder and pull her back toward him. The victim stated that Holland touched her on her genitals over her bathing suit and then under her bathing suit, digitally penetrating her by force. The victim left the Jacuzzi and immediately reported what happened to family, who then reported it to ship security. The victim was examined by medical personnel on the ship, who found abrasions on her genitals consisted with digital penetration by force.

The FBI states that Mr. Holland faces  a maximum penalty of life in federal prison and a potential lifetime of supervision.

Have a comment? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: WFTS ABC News