The Jamaican Observer reports that cruise ship passengers were injured today "when the Toyota Coaster tour bus they were travelling in was involved in a four-vehicle collision on the Carey Park main road in Trelawny."

The Jamaican newspaper says that "one of the cruise ship passengers was rushed to the Falmouth Public General Hospital."

The newspaper article identified a "grey Toyota Corolla motor car, a white Freightliner truck and a Cruise Bus Excursion Accident yellow Toyota Hiace panel van were the other motor vehicles involved in the collision."

We have learned that the tour bus was on an excursion taking cruise passengers from the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas (in Falmouth) to Dunn’s River. 

Royal Caribbean released a statement, indicating that one passenger was killed and three others were injured:

"Today 21 guest from Independence of the Seas participating in an excursion were involved in a traffic accident in Falmouth, Jamaica. We are saddened to report that a guest passed away. Three other guest were injured and are being treated at the local hospital. Crew members have gone to the hospital to assist. Join us in keeping them in our thoughts and prayers."

There have been a number of bus excursion accidents in Caribbean islands involving Royal Caribbean and its sister company Celebrity Cruises over the last 6 years.

Photo Credit: Jamaica Observer / Mark Cummings

 

 

Italian newspaper L’Unione Sarda reports what it is calling an excursion boat from the Costa Mediterranea apparently broke a cable while it was being lowered in Montenegro. 

Photographs sent to me shows what appears to be a lifeboat dangling on the side of the Costa cruise ship.  

The news article says:

"There was a technical problem , , ,  the boat came off as it was being lowered into the sea to carry passengers to the fjord of Kotor, in Montenegro. There is a dock and it was necessary to use the boats. But no one was on board and no one was hurt, said Costa Crociere."

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There have been other serious lifeboat accidents in the last several years. In October 2014, a "rescue boat" on the Coral Princess was being raised on davits with two crew members aboard when a cable snapped. One crew member was killed. In July 2015, two crew members were seriously injured when they were raising a rescue boat. It fell from deck 6 of the Pride of America to the water. In February 2013, 8 crew members were in a lifeboat during a drill on the Thomson Majesty cruise ship when the lifeboat plunged 60 feet into the water. The lifeboat landed upside down. 5 of the crew were killed. 3 were injured.

Photo Credit: Facebook (unknown photographer) 

Costa Mediterranea

Promech Excurion Crash - HALCruise passengers from the Westerdam and the Noordam Holland America Line (HAL) cruise ships were on three Promech excursion flighseeing planes on the fateful day of June 25th when 8 HAL passengers died.

These passengers experienced substantially similar experiences regarding the weather conditions as the dead passengers.  They experienced the same or very similar flight conditions as the doomed excursion plane. They are familiar with the cruise line’s cancellation policy. At least one couple tried to cancel the flight but were told by HAL that it would access a cancellation fee of around $450 per person. So they didn’t cancel because of the extreme penalty. They flew on one of the Promech planes which took off before the plane which crashed. They can tell the investigators exactly what their flight was like.

All of the passengers completed post excursion questionnaires.  

All of these passengers should be questioned by the NTSB.  

HAL should turn over copies of all of the passenger questionnaires to the NTSB. 

Most of these passengers have never been contacted by the NTSB.

If you were a passenger who flew on a Promech flightseeing excursion on June 25th in Ketchikan, we recommend that you do the following five things:

  1. Call the NTSB to the attention of Clint Johnson, NTSB Alaska, office line 907-782-4842.
  2. Contact HAL and ask for a copy of the questionnaire you completed. Once you obtain it (if HAL cooperates), fax it to the NTSB.
  3. Maintain custody of any photos or video you took on the day in question, and send copies of the weather conditions, aircraft. etc. and any images taken from the excursion plane to the NTSB as well. 
  4. Keep all of the documentation regarding the excursion in question which you received from HAL or Promech.
  5. Encourage others on the excursion to do so too. 

Keep a copy of everything you receive and everything you write. 

It’s very important. Thanks.

Photo Credit:  U.S. News

A retired couple from Canada, together with a captain, sailing from mainland Honduras to Roatan were reportedly attacked by four men armed with guns and knives who boarded the boat, threatened them with death and stole their money.

The article in CBC News quotes the Canadian woman saying "they actually had me, pulling my hair and a knife on my throat, demanding more money from the captain."

The menacing men then disabled the boat and tore out the engine wiring, and left with gasoline and the Roatan Sailing Attackcouple’s radio and drinking water, stranding them in the jungle.

This is not the first time that Canadians sailing in Honduran waters have been attacked. A Canadian woman and her father sailing from the Bay Islands were attacked in their sailboat in 2010. Armed men killed the woman’s father (photo below) in front of her before she chased them off with a flare gun. 

The U.S. and Canadian expatriates in Roatan suppress news of these violent incidents out of fear that they will scare off tourists and retirees. Travel writers skip these type of stories and describe Roatan as a "paradise."  These kind of writers and tongue-tied Roatan residents are doing a disservice to people thinking of visiting or retiring in Roatan.  

The news article quotes the Canadian foreign affairs spokesman saying: "Canadians travelling to Honduras should be aware that serious crime — including armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, home invasion and sexual assault — is common, and armed attacks on marine vessels have been reported." 

A Canadian tourist was shot in the head and killed for his iPhone in October 2012. You can watch a video at this link of a travel agent saying that his advice to travelers thinking of going to Honduras: "Don’t."

We were the first to report on a NCL crew member also shot in the head and killed for his iPhone one year ago. 

Canada has substantial warnings about crime in Honduras and has specific warnings about Roatan and the Bay Islands:

"Exercise a high degree of caution throughout Honduras, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Drug trafficking, transnational organized crime and the presence of street gangs pose significant security concerns and contribute to the high rate of crime. Apprehension and conviction rates of criminals remain low. A large percentage of the population is armed. Guns and weapons such as machetes and knives are frequently used in robberies. If you are threatened by robbers, do not resist; injuries and deaths have occurred when victims have resisted.

Serious crime—including armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, home invasion and sexual assault—is common, and armed attacks on marine vessels have been reported. Although most criminals do not target tourists, some have been victims of crime in major cities and in areas frequented by tourists, especially at night. Exercise increased vigilance in the departments along the Atlantic coast, along the border with Guatemala and in the eastern departments of Gracias a Dios, Olancho and Colón, and in rural areas north of Nacaome, Valle, and north of Choluteca, Choluteca. Exercise increased caution while in the cities of San Pedro Sula (including in vehicles leaving the airport), the Bay Islands (comprising Roatán, Útila and Guanaja), Trujillo and Tegucigalpa.

In Roatán, robbers have targeted homes and long-term leased residences. Since 2009, three Canadian citizens have been murdered in the Bay Islands. Travellers visiting the Bay Islands should exercise Canadian Killed in Honduras Watersparticular caution around uninhabited coastal areas and avoid walking on isolated beaches, especially at night. Foreigners have been assaulted on beaches in the Bay Islands and along the Atlantic Coast.

Travellers have been followed and assaulted. Use discretion when discussing your travel plans in public. Be cautious when dealing with strangers or recent acquaintances and be extremely careful when accepting rides or invitations. Remain aware of your surroundings at all times, especially after dark and when travelling alone.

Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.

In resort areas, stay on supervised beaches and do not walk in isolated or unpopulated areas. Hitchhiking is strongly discouraged everywhere in the country. Campers should always stay in well-lit campgrounds that have security patrols. Whenever possible, walk in a group, as there have been reports of attacks on tourists walking alone."

Does this sound like paradise to you?

 

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

Photo Credit: Loretta Reinholdt and Andy Wasinger via Calgary Herald; Ambergris Caye 

National Geographical’s ombudsman Christopher Elliott just published the article which I wrote for Yahoo Travel tilted Is Cruising Safe? A Chilling Look at an Industry Under Siege.

Elliott’s article is titled Terrorists Target Cruise Ships — Here’s What You Need to Know Now.

He asks this question at the end of the article:

Costa FascinosaIs the cruise industry taking terrorism seriously?

The reader then selects one of two possible answers:

No, it needs to do more  ___

Yes, it’s doing enough to protect passengers  ___

So far, 92% of those responding answered No, with only 8%.saying Yes.

The poll confirms what I suspected about the cruise industry – that is is perceived by the public as pushing itineraries in the Middle East which are potentially dangerous with little concerned about the safety of the passengers. 

Costa and MSC Cruises did not issue a single warning to their passengers before unloading them in Tunis. Both cruise lines were pushing excursions in Tunisia. Neither cruise line arranged for security for the buses targeted by the terrorists.  The cruise excursion buses unloaded the passengers into a trap because of the negligence of the cruise lines. 

Will the cruise industry wake up and protect their guests?  It seems that the public thinks that the cruise lines can do a lot more. 

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

 

Photo Credit: Rene Grob via Wikimedia Creative Commons 3.0

Princess Cruise Bus AccidentNews sources in Alaska are reporting that a Princess Cruises employee was killed when a Princess Tours excursion bus overturned on a rain slicked highway in Alaska.

The accident occurred at mile 173 on Parks Highway, approximately 200 miles south of Fairbanks.

The Frontiersman reports that this is the second serious incident involving a Princess-owned bus on a remote stretch of road in the past month. Here’s a story about the prior accident involving a Princess bus.

The photograph of the crushed bus (left) was published by the Frontiersman via Tim Whitney.

The Cruise Fever websites says that "the bus was heading northbound along the Denali National Park from Mt. McKinley Wilderness Lodge to the Princess Wilderness Lodge" when the accident happened. 

KTUU states that three people, all Princess employees, were on board the bus when it crashed and the front end was crushed. 

The woman who died was from Malaysia and working in Alaska. A second Princess employee was seriously injured. The bus driver was not injured.  

State Troopers say that excessive speed was a factor in the accident.  

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Belize Tour Excursion Van AccidentNews 7 in Belize published an article yesterday entitled Tourists Survive Head On Collision.

The story involves two cruise passengers who had taken an excursion ashore in Belize and were involved in a serious accident while riding in a van which had a head-on collision with another van. The tour van they were in was caused to flip over.

Here is the local news station’s account:  

"Two cruise tourists and their driver were involved in  a serious collision within Belize City limits this afternoon. This picture provided to us by a viewer shows the tourists slumped over on the side of the road in front of the mashed up and overturned tour van they were in. The collision happened at around 2:30 at mile three and a half on the Western Highway – right at the spot where a new speed bump was installed just last week. The circumstances of the accident are unknown but it seems two mini-vans collided at the speedbump and the impact sent the gold van spinning across the highway, causing it to violently flip. The tourists were taken to a private hospital for treatment, while the condition of the driver is not known."

The news station did not identify the cruise line or cruise ship. 

Automobile, bus and van accidents ashore are an unexpected part of cruising and taking excursions ashore. Cruise lines have liability for injuries suffered during excursions under some circumstances, such as when the cruise lines offer the tour and fail to have in place procedures to properly vet the tour Belize Van Accident - Cruise Excursionexcursion’s equipment and the driver’s background, experience and driving record. Other excursions where cruise passengers have been injured include:

Excursion Tour Bus Crash In Tortola Injures Princess Cruises’ Passengers From Caribbean Princess

Injured Clelbrity Cruises Passengers to Dominica Airlifted to Miami

 9 Cruise Passengers Killed, 14 Injured in Bus Excursion Accident

Royal Caribbean Sponsored Excursion Tour Bus Crashes in St. Martin

Royal Caribbean Cruise Passengers Injured During Excursion in St. Thomas

 

Photo Credit:  7 News Belize

There’s an interesting article today by the Associated Press about the lesser publicized side of cruise ship excursions entitled Jamaica’s "Ganja Tours Draw the Tourists" (with subtitle: "Cannabis connoisseurs can enjoy trips to hidden plantations and sample strains of the drug that inspired Bob Marley.")

Jamaican ganja like "purple kush" and "pineapple skunk" are some of the favorites of "pot tourists" who cruise into Falmouth and then head up to the mountains. 

The AP article says that many tours pass through Nine Mile, the mountain hometown of famous reggae star and pot lover Bob Marley, where Jamaican men can escort tourists to locations Falmouth Jamaica Ganja in the mountains where pot grows. 

The newspaper writes about a "couple of busloads of cruise-ship tourists arriving at Bob Marley’s childhood home," where "more than a dozen lined up enthusiastically to buy bags of weed . . . through a hole in the wall of the museum compound."

You won’t see any of the official cruise excursions labeled as ganja tours as such. But there is big money to be made by the cruise lines in driving passengers into the mountains where the potent sinsemilla is cultivated.

Royal Caribbean promotes an excursion from its new port development in Falmouth where passengers from the Oasis and the Allure can participate in the aptly entitled "Bob Marley Experience." (Are you experienced?)

According to the Royal Caribbean website, the excursion’s "HIGHLIGHTS" (a Freudian slip or pandering to potheads?) include listening to reggae music on the bus ride from the port and back through the "narrow winding country roads to the mountain village of Nine Miles" to visit the birthplace and resting place of the late & great Bob Marley.  And of course there’s time to trek into the pot fields.

Bob Marley Excursion - Crnival CruiseThe Royal Caribbean "Bob Marley Experience" is available starting at $99. The cruise line excludes minors, with the minimum age being 18 year-olds. This is no Dunn’s River Falls excursion for kids, Dude.

Carnival offers an identical tour in their "Zion Bus" (for cruise passengers 18 and older) where you can "listen to Bob Marley’s hits as your dreadlocked driver takes you into the hills."

A Carnival passenger wrote in a review of the tour:

"Like the guide told us – You get high, high up to the mountains!"

A Jamaican jerk chicken lunch is offered too.  All the cruise lines need to add is a dozen brownies to make the experience complete.  

 

Photo: Top – Falmouth, Jamaica by Jim Walker; Bottom – Bob Marley Tour Bus – Carnival.

You can see some interesting photos and information about the Bob Marley experience here.

Cruise Critic reports that 55 cruise passengers and two crew members from the Celebrity Eclipse were robbed at gunpoint by three men on Friday, April 12 2013 while in St. Lucia.

Celebrity Cruises issued a statement indicating that passengers were visiting the Botanical Gardens in Soufriere at the time of the robbery and were on two Celebrity-sponsored shore excursions, “Breathtaking Soufriere and Warm Mineral Baths” and “Land and Sea to the Pitons.”  Passengers were traveling on the same bus.

Celebrity Cruises EclipseCelebrity states that “none of our guests were injured in this unfortunate event,” but Cruise Critic states that passengers reported that “one woman fell and broke her leg.”

No one is talking about the potential emotional trauma and psychological effects of the armed robbery.

All the cruise passengers aboard the bus had their money and jewelry taken.

Cruise passengers to St. Lucia have been targeted in St. Lucia the past. We have written articles about the crime problem in that island: 14 Cruise Passengers Robbed at Anse-La-Raye Waterfall in St. Lucia.

The problem got so bad that NCL dropped the island for its 2010 to 2012 schedule. Read Norwegian Cruise Line Drops St. Lucia.

Robbing passengers on cruise-sponsored bus excursions is hardly rare. In 2010, 17 Celebrity cruise passengers were robbed in a bus by gunmen in St. Kitts.  “Robbing cruise passengers in bulk” in the Caribbean islands and Mexico is not uncommon and I have written about it: Robbing Cruise Passengers in Bulk – Yes, It Happens!

I wonder whether Celebrity provided any warning to its guests about the problem with cruise passengers being targeted for armed robbery in St. Lucia and other Caribbean islands?

If you have info about this latest crime, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

April 14 2013 Update: A video from a local news station in St. Lucia is below.  You will hear tourism officials stating that they told the cruise passengers that such incidents against tourists are “rare,” St. Lucia Celebrity Cruise Crime Victimswhich is obviously untrue if a major Miami based cruise line like NCL pulled out in 2010.

The U.S. national media has picked up the story with Fox News carrying a AP story which mentions the incident. Not much information except the St. Lucia tourism people already hard at work. The article quotes St. Lucia Tourist Board Chairman Mathew Beaubrun portraying the robbery as a “rare incident.”  Damage control is underway.

April 15 2013 Update: USA TODAY assists in the PR damage control, repeating the St. Lucia talking point that crime in that country is “rare.”

Several newspapers are reporting that the police on St. Lucia have arrested one or more of the men involved in the robbery. Fox News says that the police arrested one of “four masked men armed with homemade shotguns and pistols held up the passengers from Celebrity Cruise.”  The Times mentions that three men were arrested.

April 20 2013 Update: I stumbled across a discussion on the Cruise Critic site where just 2 months ago passengers from the Celebrity Eclipse were accosted by a man ashore with a knife which sparked a discussion about crime in St, Lucia.  Meanwhile the cruise line and the PR people on the island are saying that such crime is rare. Read our article Liar, Liar Pants On Fire? St. Lucia Tourism Denies Prior Armed Robbery of Cruise Passengers.

Photo Credit: top – Wikipedia /  Jonathan Schilling; bottom – DBS TV St. Lucia via the Times.

A newspaper in Jacksonville reports that a local resident sailing on a Carnival cruise died earlier this week during a stop in Cozumel Mexico.   Andrew Wooten, age 50, was reportedly swept away by an undercurrent and drowned. 

Mr. Wooten was the president of Safety Awareness Firearms Education, a firm that conducts training. He was providing continuing education courses on the cruise. 

According to the newspaper, Wooten apparently drowned during an  excursion after sailing to Mexico on the Carnival Elation cruise ship.