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.”

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Photo credit: Antigua Global Ports Holding Plc.

A newspaper in Antigua reports that a safari jeep excursion vehicle filled with cruise passengers flipped on its side in a road accident last week.

The newspaper reports that nine cruise passengers, consisting of six U.S. passengers and three German passengers, were riding in the back of the open air jeep. The injured were reportedly treated at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre in Antigua. 

The newspaper says that the jeep was attempting to overtake a tractor when the driver of the safari jeep swerved to avoid oncoming traffic, causing it to flip on its side.

Antigua Safari Jeep AccidentThe passengers were reportedly from Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas

The safari jeep was reportedly operated by Tropical Adventures in Antigua.

It is currently unknown whether this was an independent excursion or whether it was sold and booked through the cruise line. 

There have been a number of excursion accidents involving passengers from Royal Caribbean and its sister company, Celebrity Cruises, over the last many years.  

Last January of this year, one passenger from the Independence of the Seas was killed and a half-dozen passengers were injured in a collision, between an excursion bus and a truck near Falmouth, Jamaica. We are representing the family of the deceased passenger and several injured passengers. 

Last December, two Celebrity passengers from the Summit were killed and 16 other passengers were injured on an excursion bus transporting cruise tourists to an excursion in Tortola, British West Indies.

In July 2012, Royal Caribbean cruise passengers from the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship were involved in a serious accident heading to an excursion in St. Martin.

In January 2012, a cruise sponsored open safari bus excursion from Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas cruise ship crashed in St. Thomas, resulting in injuries to cruise passengers.

In February 2009, a dozen passengers from Celebrity Cruises’ Summit cruise ship were seriously injured when an open air excursion vehicle ran off the road in Dominica. We represented passengers against the cruise line and the excursion company in that accident. Information on the Dominica excursion accident is contained in an article "Injured Visitors to Dominica Airlifted to Miami."

Photo Credit: Antigua Observer 

A local news station in Houston is reporting that for the first time, a cruise ship has sailed from its home port at the Bayport Cruise Terminal in Houston. Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess set sail earlier this week for a four day cruise to Progresso, Mexico.

The remarkable part of the story is that the cruise terminal was built long ago and has sat largely unused. The cruise terminal was completed in 2009 at a cost of $108 million with bond money that the local taxpayers have been paying for the past 4 to 5 years. 

Empty and abandoned cruise terminals are a risk that struggling U.S. cities and powerless Carnival Cruise Line - 800 Pound Gorilla Caribbean islands run while dealing with the rich and powerful cruise lines.

A Houston port official excitedly talked about all of the employment benefits which finally are coming from the cruise terminal:

"You have the line handlers, you have our wonderful longshoreman association that’s providing the handling of the baggage, stevedores that are handling our parking, so there are just a variety of jobs and economic impact that’s created from this cruise operation." 

But such success is usually a long time coming and is often fleeting.

Just ask Mobile Alabama.

The city built an expensive cruise terminal as part of its "partnership" with Carnival Cruise Line.  When the cruise line pulled its cruise ship from the Alabama port, the city was left with a debt of $35,000,000.

Carnival thought that it could make more money by re-positioning its cruise ship in either New Orleans or Tampa, and left Mobile high and dry.  Ironically, the only cruise ship to return to Mobile in the last couple of years was the Carnival Triumph which had to be towed to port following the infamous "poop cruise’ earlier this year.     

Carnival never enters into a contract with a port promising to commit ships to the port for a finite number of years. So cities like Mobile build their new terminals on a wish and a prayer.

One-sided deals in favor of the cruise lines are the business norm. Carnival is the proverbial 800 pound gorilla. Port cities can either sign the bad deal or the cruise line goes elsewhere. And Carnival can break the deal whenever it wants and for any reason, good or bad.

Just ask Norfolk, Virginia. Carnival abandoned it last month leaving the city with a $30,000,000 debt for a new cruise terminal that the local taxpayers are stuck with paying. Carnival cited the additional operating costs associated with new environmental emission regulations which prohibit the use of cheap, toxic bunker fuel which can still be burned on cruises out of Miami.

The here-today, gone-tomorrow exploitation of cities like Houston, Mobile and Norfolk is particularly bad in the Caribbean ports. Take, for example, Antigua.  Carnival dropped Antigua like a hot potato. Carnival broke up with its Caribbean "business partner" with a "Dear John" letter sent via e-mail. The sudden and unexpected pull-out costs the Caribbean island $40,000,000 annually.

Consider what’s happening in Tortola too. Carnival cruise ships announced that it is pulling the Sunshine, Freedom, Liberty, Glory and the Valor from the island. Carnival may return if and when Tortola invests into improving its cruise facilities. 

The latest news from the Caribbean is that the Cayman Islands is trying to figure out how to pay $200,000,000 for two new cruise ship piers so that Carnival and Royal Caribbean passengers don’t have to tender in from the cruise ships to the island. The Cayman Islands has a GNP of less than one billion dollars a year; however, Royal Caribbean alone will collect closer to 7 billions dollars a year. Carnival will collect far more than that.

The Caymans can’t possibly pay for the news cruise piers by itself. But if it decides to "partner" with these giant, rich cruise lines, it may find itself paying for much of the cruise project and ongoing operating expenses with no legally enforceable assurances from the cruise lines.   

It’s risky business for poor cities and tourist-dependent Caribbean islands with no sustainable businesses to trust the cruise lines.  Cruise lines like Carnival are cutthroats. They hold all of the cards and will up and leave in a split second if they can make a better deal elsewhere. 

Nina Elizabeth NilssenOver three years ago, a U.S. cruise passenger, Nina Elizabeth Nilssen, age 30, was murdered while vacationing in Antigua near the English Harbour / Falmouth area. She had been cruising with her parents, an uncle and aunt, sister and brother-in-law aboard the Royal Clipper, a tall masted ship operated by Miami based Star Clippers. 

The murder was terribly tragic as she was ashore with her family to attend the marriage of her sister. 

A 27-year-old man, Tishara Daniel, was arrested for attacking Ms. Niessen and stabbing her in the neck while she was walking near Windward Bay Beach in Pigeon Point.

Yesterday he pled guilty to the murder. He will be sentenced on July 5 for the crime. 

The cruise line pulled out of Antigua following the crime but returned five months later.  

You can read our prior articles about the crime and ensuing events here.

Yesterday evening I received a tweet from a Twitter friend in Antigua: "several cruise passengers witnessed a day light killing in the tourism area of #antigua today." Later I was told that an "attempted robbery at one of the shops led to a gunman shooting the woman in the head. She died on the spot around 1.30."

This morning the Antigua Observer covered the sad story: Mother of 5 Gunned Down in Heritage Quay

The newspaper says that "a 38-year-old mother of five was gunned down in broad daylight yesterday – the latest in an alarming spate of shootings and robberies across the country." The victim was working as a sales person at First Gadget Electronic Store on Thames Street.

The store is located in the heart of St John’s within the cruise tourism zone Heritage Quay.

Antigua - Cruise IndustryAntigua has had its share of violence and crime in areas frequented by cruise passengers. Last month an altercation between a store owner and cruise passengers escalated into a highly publicized fight between the cruisers and the police in St. John’s.   

More serious incidents over the last few years involved a young woman from a cruise ship being murdered ashore, cruise passengers attacked and robbed (ironically while tourism and cruise officials were meeting to discuss the issue of safety of cruise visitors in Antigua) and six cruise passengers from Brooklyn arrested after disputing a cab fare and getting into a fight with the local police.

Caribbean countries like Antigua have  precarious relationships with the cruise lines. Some cruise lines temporarily stopped calling in Antigua following the murder of a passenger from the Star Clippers in 2010.

In 2009, Carnival suddenly pulled out of Antigua – Carnival Drops Antigua Like A Hot Potato.

The murder of the store employee in the tourist area comes at a time when Antigua announced that it formed a new police unit to protect tourists from crime and its tourism officials announced that they were optimistic about attracting tourists to the island notwithstanding the increase in violent crime.

The police and government officials are involved in trying to deal with the PR fall-out in the tourism sector. There is a reward offer of $50,000 for info leading to the arrest of the gunman and there is talk about asking for the death penalty (public hangings).

Tragic incidents like this will continue to make the local citizens frightened, and continue to plague the island’s relationship with the big Miami based cruise lines that unload thousands of people into Heritage Quay. 

  

Photo Credit: vibesantigua

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

I have written many articles about the high crime rates in many of the Caribbean islands frequented by cruise lines – Crime in Caribbean Ports of Call Against Cruise Passengers.  Consider the following articles in the last year alone: 

Antigua – Cruise Passengers Attacked & Robbed in Antigua While Cruise and Tourism Officials Meet and Passenger From Star Clippers Murdered in Antigua

Bahamas 18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the BahamasEleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau, and Cruising To The Bahamas – Is It Safe?

Guatemala – Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala  

Mexico –  Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines Pull Ships From L.A. Due To Crime In Mexico

St. Lucia – Norwegian Cruise Line Drops St. Lucia and 14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia

St. Thomas – More Caribbean Crime – Carnival Passenger Killed In St. Thomas

 

Cruise lines have port agents in all of these destinations and are familiar with the crime which exists in these beautiful, tropical locations.  Do you think that cruise lines should warn passengers of the substantial dangers which exist in the ports they select to disembark their passengers?

USA Today reports that Star Clippers is returning to Antigua.  This is less than five months after it dropped Antigua as a port of call following the murder of passenger Nina Elisabeth Nilssen. 

Star Cippers - Crime - Antigua We have written many articles about crime in Antigua and Ms. Nilssen’s untimely death. 

The newspaper quotes Star Clippers’ president Jack Chatham saying:  

"Star Clippers has been assured by the Antiguan government that they have improved security on the island, particularly in the areas where our guests visit."

hhmmnn . . .  not sure that I would make a decision solely on what a tourist dependent Caribbean official "assured" me.  

There is no mention of exactly what security improvements have in fact taken place to protect tourists.  The Star Clippers Blog contains no mention of this tragic case, nor any warnings of high crime in the Caribbean ports. 

Our article Travel Writers and the Ethics of Reporting Cruise News raises the issue of whether cruise lines, travel agents and cruise reporters are doing a disservice to the public by keeping them in the dark regarding crimes in the beautiful Caribbean ports of call.  

 

Credits:

Photograph     USA Today: "Should cruise lines pull out of Antigua in wake of murder?"

The Antigua Sun reports that two cruise passengers were attacked and robbed while ashore in Antigua yesterday after getting off a cruise ship. 

St. Johns Antigua - Crime - CruiseThe passengers were not identified but were described as a "British couple" who arrived in St. Johns yesterday.  They are sailing aboard the Fred Olsen cruise ship, Boudicca

The newspaper reports that the "daring daylight incident" occurred around 10:45 a.m. while the tourists were walking along Bay Street in the "Villa area" which is to the north of the St. Johns Harbour where the passengers disembarked. Three young men attacked the couple with "a piece of stick" and robbed them of a digital camera before fleeing. The couple was treated at the Mount St. John Medical Centre and then returned to the Boudicca.

Antigua’s tourism officials already have their hands full following the highly publicized murder of Nina Elizabeth Nilssen who was killed in Antigua after disembarking from Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper cruise ship.  This latest crime against a cruise tourist occurred while the executive members of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) were meeting with the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda and the local Cruise Tourism Association regarding cruise ships porting in Antigua.  In an article entitled "FCCA Team Gives Advise to Tourism Stakeholders," the Antigua Sun Florida Caribbean Cruise Association - FCCA - Antigua - Crimereports that the tourism and cruise people were discussing, among other issues, a "Crime Stoppers" forum when the robbery took place.

Although the media was invited to the meeting, no one would comment on the crime against the cruise passengers. 

Antigua has received a lot of unfavorable press over the last year following high profile murders of tourists.  One year ago, an article entitled "Tourist Murders, Robberies Threaten Antigua’s Struggling Tourism Industry" labeled Antigua as "death island."  The article quotes the President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association Nathan Dundas as stating ". . .  we have been asking for more security but all of our pleas seem to be falling on deaf ears."

Star Clippers recently announced that it would no longer stop in Antigua, due to concerns with crime.  Carnival stopped scratched Antigua off its itinerary last year, although it did not explain why.  Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises continue to make calls in Antigua.  

The cruise industry is big business in Antigua and Barbuda.  The Anitgua Observer newspaper reported earlier this month that cruise passengers spent around $48 million from November 2008 to April 2009, according to the FCCA.   

We have addressed the issue of crime against cruise passengers in the Caribbean ports of call in many recent articles:

Passenger From Star Clippers Murdered in Antigua

Eleven Cruise Passengers Robbed in Nassau

18 Passengers From Royal Caribbean & Disney Cruise Ships Robbed By Shotgun in the Bahamas

Bahamas Cruise Crime Nightmare Continues

Nassau Welcomes Oasis of the Seas as Bahamas’ Murder Count Reaches Record-Breaking Level

14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia

Crime in Caribbean Ports of Call Against Cruise Passengers

Norwegian Cruise Line Passenger Murdered in Guatemala

 

Credits:    

Photograph of St. Johns Antigua            Squidoo

Antigua tourism – FCCA meeting           ab.gov.ag (via eTurbo News – "Florida Caribbean Cruise Association meets with Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association"

The Antigua Sun newspaper in Antigua reports on the preliminary arraignment of Tishara Daniel who is charged with the murder of Nina Elizabeth Nilssen in Antigua.

The Antigua Sun contains the first photograph of Mr. Daniel.

Trishara Daniel - Antigua - Muder Trial - Nina Nilssen

The article contains rather bizarre details of the suspect’s clothing and shoes and what is described as nervous fidgeting by the defendant.

Mr. Daniel was held without bail and sent to prison waiting trial.  His lawyer can petition a higher court for bail.

His attorney is identified as Dane Hamilton Jr.

This will be a trial which will receive a lot of attention in the U.S. over the course of the next year. 

We have had a number of clients victimized on cruise ships and in ports in the Caribbean.  Obtaining a guilty verdict involving a crime against a U.S. citizen in a Caribbean courtroom is not as easy as it may seem.  There are many talented defense lawyers throughout the Caribbean.

Don’t underestimate a dedicated and experienced defense lawyer versus local prosecutors, for a second. 

Our experience has been that jurors are sometimes more sympathetic to the local island citizen than the U.S. victim.  Perhaps this sounds cynical, so be it.  

We hope that this is not the situation with this case. But without a doubt, this will be a long and exhausting process for the families involved. 

 

Credit:

Tishara Daniel               Antigua Sun