Cruise passengers are reportedly fearful of the current conditions of Nassau’s famed Straw Market, according to local vendors in the Bahamas and a popular U.S. cruise publication.

One of the vendors told the Tribune newspaper “. . . many of the tourists refused to come off the ship because they were told the market is too dark they are going to be robbed, raped and all these sorts of different things . . .”

The popular cruise blog Cruise Radio reported yesterday that the comment was made during a dispute between the Bahamian government and the local citizens who work in the market. The government-operated Straw Market Authority apparently threw away goods from the stalls of market vendors who were delinquent in paying the modest rent for their stalls. Cruise Radio commented that “but those selling their wares at the straw market have been unhappy with the state of affairs for some time, claiming that parts of the space have been without lights for months.” One vendor responded to the perceived mistreatment, complaining that the the market the market is an embarrassing place to bring tourists and noting it was “‘filthy’ and needed to be painted and cleaned.”

The Bahamas has struggled with cruise tourism in the last many years, as many cruise passengers refuse to step off the cruise ships when they arrive in Nassau or Freeport. Many cruise guests cite crime, dirty conditions, aggressive merchants and an absence of things to do compared with other ports as reasons why they stay on the ships when they reach the Bahamas.

As Cruise Radio has observed in a prior article: “The fact that many passengers now opt to stay on board the ships which brought them isn’t news to anyone who has spent time on message boards. There, people often complain about everything from the lack of interesting things to do in Nassau to the virtual army of cab drivers and vendors one must fight past in order to get anywhere.”

But Bahamian tourism official have publicly stated that they needed to be “more aggressive” in looking to find ways to extract money from cruisers. Yet, the Bahamas is planning to end the millions of dollars annually spent on incentives paid to the “very, very profitable” cruise lines so that they would bring passengers to the Bahamas.

We have written many articles about the high rate of crime, including sexual assault, in Nassau. We named Nassau as the most dangerous cruise port in the world in 2014.

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Photo credit: Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board

 

Mechanical problems are affecting the speed of the Carnival Victory cruise ship which departed yesterday from the port of Miami.

The Carnival cruise ship was supposed to sail from Miami to Key West arriving this morning around 7:30 a.m., and then sailing on to Cozumel, Mexico before returning to Miami in October 26, 2018.

However, yesterday Carnival stated that an unspecified “issue” is affecting the ship’s “maximum cruising speed.” A letter to the ship’s guests signed by the Master of the cruise ship stated that although technicians were doing the “necessary work,” the ship would operate on a modified itinerary. The ship would sail to Nassau in the Bahamas where it would arrive at 10:00 a.m. today and it would then spend the day tomorrow at its private destination in Princess Cays in the Bahamas. The Carnival Victory would then spend a day at sea on Thursday and would return to Miami Friday morning.

AIS shows the ship in Nassau this morning after sailing at an average speed of around 11-12 knots.

Carnival was offering a $50 onboard credit or a refund for anyone who wished to cancel the cruise.

The propulsion issue facing the Carnival victory comes at a time when Carnival announced that the ship is part of a $2 billion enhancement program where the cruise line is rebranding a number of its shipsThe Carnival Victory will be dry docked before returning to the fleet as Carnival Radiance in 2020. The ship will undergo major refurbishments including specialty dining facilities, aqua parks, and enhanced accommodations and amenities.

USA TODAY writes that the overhaul of the Victory will “take place over 38 days at a dry dock in Cadiz, Spain and cost $200 million – one of the priciest cruise ship makeovers on record.” The makeover will include the “addition of more than 100 cabins, the revamping of existing cabins and the addition of nearly a dozen food and drink outlets.”

We were first notified that the cruise ship arrived in port in Miami with the assistance of tugs yesterday.

Power losses of cruise ships are a relatively common occurrence. In 2016, there were at least 18 power losses of cruise ships operated by the major U.S.-based lines, including problems with the Carnival Elation, Carnival Legend, Carnival Liberty and Carnival Vista as well as the Carnival owned AdoniaCaribbean Princess, Emerald Princess, and Costa neoRiviera.

2017 saw a number of Carnival cruise ships experiencing engine problems, such as the Carnival Dream, which was forced to miss a port in Mexico in August and then limped back to New Orleans, as well as propulsion issues plaguing the Carnival FantasyCarnival Paradise, and Carnival Splendor.

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Photo credit – Carnival Victory (in Nassau): Justinpolanco – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

 

A dispute is brewing in the Bahamas over a tug boat fee that the government plans to charge cruise ships and other commercial vessels using the harbor of Nassau.

Earlier this week, the Bahamas Tribune reported that the Miami-based cruise industry believes that it does not need tug service in the port of Nassau.

The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s (FCCA), through its president Michele Paige, told the Tribune newspaper that the cruise industry was “fundamentally opposed” to paying for the tug service in Nassau harbor. FCCA is claiming that the new fee will result in additional unwarranted costs, which will make the Bahamas cruise experience “more expensive.”

The two new tug boats, named Tug Samson and Tug Rose, will be operated by a 100% Bahamian-owned and operated company, called Tug Services Ltd, according to the Tribune. The Bahamas has come to the conclusion that the new tugs are necessary to maintain adequate services for the Port of Nassau commercial vessels calling at its port. Bahamian officials cite the need for reliable service during poor weather and in emergencies, in addition to regular tug services needed for firefighting, oil spill recovery, salvage capabilities and the safe movement of cruise and cargo ships in and out of the harbor.

The Bahamas is attempting to upgrade Nassau’s cruise port, at Prince George Wharf, to reverse declining revenues from passenger spending at the port.

The FCCA always disputes any cost increases which are levied against the cruise lines. The FCCA even fought against the reasonable attempts to increase the pilotage fees sought by the Biscayne Bay Pilots here in Miami.

As I have said before many times, the only cost increases permitted by the cruise lines are those levied against their guests for things like mandatory tips and gratuities, drink increases or room service charges. The cruise industry likes to demand control everything it touches, whether it is the taxes imposed by the state of Alaska for environmental protection and infrastructure, or the minimal head taxes of the poor Caribbean ports. It steals the tips intended from its powerless foreign crew members and nickels and dimes all of its passengers to collect every penny it can.

But paying for the costs of two new tugs in one of its most popular cruise ports?  $700 for a tug into port in Nassau? No way says the FCCA, even though the cruise industry collects tens of millions of dollars with increased gratuities and on on-board charges.

A Bahamian cabinet minister is defending the mandatory tug boat fee for Nassau harbor, telling the Bahamian newspaper that “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Nassau reportedly may be an easy port for cruise ships to dock in but it has not stopped Florida-based cruise lines from occasionally smashing into its docks, as a Disney cruise ship proved last year (video below). Perhaps a couple of well maintained tugs would help. The cruise industry seems to smash into piers in numerous cruise ports from time to time, like in Roatan, Ketchikan, Buenos Aires, Baltimore, Nice, Messina, PireausMarseille, and New York to name a few. But the majority of these incidents are not friendly little fender-benders like the Disney cruise ship mishap in Nassau.

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Photo credit: Port of Nassau – View of Prince George Wharf – TampAGS wikipedia – creative commons 3.0

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Ilekd7_Kodw%3Frel%3D0

 

In a media blitz, Royal Caribbean recently announced that it plans a massive overhaul of its "private island," CocoCay, in the Bahamas.

USA Today reported that Royal Caribbean’s will spend $200,000,000 for what is described as a "massive makeover" of its private destination in the Bahamas that will include the addition of one of the largest water parks in the Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean is one of the many Miami based cruise lines which entered into a long term lease with the Bahamas of one its native islands.

The island is in the Berry Islands in the Bahamas and was previously known as Little Stirrup Cay. Royal CaribbeanCoco Cay Bahamas assumed the lease of the island upon acquisition of Admiral Cruises and renamed the island CocoCay. Royal Caribbean is one of the first cruise lines to lease islands in the Bahamas for their exclusive use.

The newspaper reports that the overhaul of the 125-acre island, to be renamed "Perfect Day at CocoCay" will include a 1,600 foot-long zip-line, the largest freshwater pool in the region, a helium balloon ride that takes cruise passengers 450 feet into the air and several other "over-the-top" features.

The project will also include dredging of the coral basin around the island and the installation of a pier in order to accommodate Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships which each carry over 6,000 passengers.

The water park will have a “South Beach” area where the cruise passengers can, for an extra fee, rent  jet skis or cabanas or pay for boat excursions or parasails trips.

Royal Caribbean will receive 100% of the profits from the revenues generated by the zip lines, helium balloon rides and other activities operated by the cruise line in the renovated private island. 

In my view, the project seems to be a vote of no confidence in the existing ports in the Bahamas, Nassau and Freeport.  

According to the Tribune newspaper in Nassau, an activist in the Bahamas, Heather Carey, denounced the project in a Facebook post yesterday. 

Ms. Carey said in her post on Facebook: “Just another example of how the cruise ship industry does little to benefit us locally, and instead continues to make the visitor experience more insular to the cruise ship islands, taking away any motivation to explore places like Nassau or to enjoy the excursions we offer. . . . We cannot give away any more of our beautiful Bahamas to these bottomless pits."

Ms. Carey is absolutely correct is her assessment of the Royal Caribbean’s plans. I should also add that the high crime rate in Nassau probably factored into the cruise line’s decision to invest heavily into the cruise line’s private destination.

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Photo credit: Royal Caribbean via USA Today. 

The United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security issued another warning to U.S. tourists about the danger of sexual assault in Nassau , Bahamas yesterday.  The warning states:

Avoid Jet ski operators: Jet ski operators continue to commit sexual assaults and other crimes against tourists. U.S. Embassy personnel are instructed not to use jet ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands, including Cabbage Beach and Cable Beach. We strongly recommend you also avoid patronizing jet ski rental operations.

The warning also advises tourists to drink responsibly due to the foreseeable risk of being drugged and Nassau Bahamas Crimethen sexually assaulted:

Stay in a group of friends who have your safety in mind when in clubs, bars, out walking in dimly-lit areas, or in a taxi at night. Visitors found alone or incapacitated have been victims of sexual assault, robbery, and physical assault. Watch your drink at all times. Intoxicated individuals may be targeted for drugging and sexual assault.

The warning is targeted to students traveling via cruise ship or air to the Bahamas for spring break to be on the alert for these dangers. 

We have reported many times on jet ski operators in the unregulated jet ski business in the Bahamas, who have raped tourists near Cable Beach or Paradise Island. Two years ago, the U.S. Embassy in Nassau states that jet ski operators sexually assaulted 5 tourists over the course of in 18 months.

We reported on four prior warnings about crime this year alone for Nassau, Bahamas by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Nassau as well as by Canada.

In the past decade, there have been more crime warnings for Nassau, Bahamas than for all of the other Caribbean cruise ports combined. Nassau earned the title of the most dangerous cruise port in the world in 2014.

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Photo credit: TampAGS, for AGS Media – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

NassauThe United States Department of State has again listed the crime threat in the Bahamas as "critical" and warned U.S. tourists to take safety measures while visiting the country.

The warning was issued by the U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) which just published the the Bahamas 2018 Crime & Safety Report

Like other U.S. warnings about the Bahamas, this latest warning primarily involves Nassau (New Providence), not the "outer islands" not frequented by cruise ships. The OSAC estimates that there are approximately 370,000 people living in the Bahamas, with around 70% (around 250,000-260,000) of the population residing in crime-filled New Providence. Another another 15% (55,000) live on Grand Bahama. The rest of the population is dispersed over numerous islands (commonly referred to as the “Family Islands”), where crime is substantially less than in Nassau.

We reported on three prior warnings in the last thirty days by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Nassau as well as by Canada.   

The per capita murder and rape rates for the Bahamas as a whole are drastically higher than any port city in the United States. 

The Nassau Guardian covered the latest U.S. warning. 

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Photo credit: NASA – Public Domain, commons / wikimedia.

The U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas issued a new crime warning for the city following the assault of a U.S. citizen during the early evening hours of February 6, 2018, while jogging on West Bay Street just west of Goodman’s Bay Park.

This is an area around two miles west of the cruise port and downtown and east of the popular Cable Beach.

The Embassy urged that caution should be used in all areas of New Providence while traveling by foot Nassau Bahamas Crime Warningafter dark.

The Bahamas Tribune covered the new crime warning today.

The United States State Department issued its last crime warning for the Bahamas on January 10, 2018, which states, in part:

“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. U.S. government personnel are not permitted to visit the Sand Trap area in Nassau due to crime. Jet-ski operators are known to commit sexual assaults against tourists, including minors. As a result, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands.”

The U.S. government has issued more crime warnings for the Bahamas than for all locations in the Caribbean.

The common response from the Bahamian tourism officials to these warning is to suggest that Nassau is safe compared to major American cities like Chicago or New York.

But the per capita murder rate in the country of the Bahamas is much higher than the per capita rate in Chicago and many, many times higher than the per capita rate in New York City. In the U.S., the per capita murder rate is a little over 4 per 100,000; in the Bahamas, the rate is around 40 per 100,000.

Most cruise tourists don’t understand that the murder, rape and crime rates per capita are much higher in the Bahamas, particularly in Nassau, than anywhere the tourists are from.

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Canada recently issued a new crime advisory for the Bahamas, warning its citizens to exercise a high degree of caution when traveling there due to high rates of crime, including a reported increase of sexual assaults against tourists. 

Canada’s website advisory was updated last week to state that sexual assaults occur regularly, primarily in New Providence (Nassau) and on Grand Bahama (Freeport):  

"Crime, including violent crime, occurs mainly on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama. There has been an increase in muggings, armed robberies, home invasions and sexual assault targeting tourists in the cities of Nassau and Freeport. Incidents of robbery take place in cruise ship Nassau Bahamas Cruise Terminalterminals and in and around popular resort areas, even in daylight hours. If you are threatened by robbers, stay calm and do not resist. Avoid non-tourist neighbourhoods in downtown Nassau, especially at night, where the crime accounts for much of Bahamas’ high murder rate. 

Sexual assault occurs frequently, particularly near hotels, in hotel rooms, in casinos, on cruise ships and on the beach. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol, do not consume any drugs and don’t accept rides from strangers or from unlicensed taxi drivers. Due to incidents of sexual assault, it is recommended to be wary when embarking on jet-ski rides with licensed or unlicensed operators."

Two weeks ago, we wrote about the U.S. warning to its citizens to exercise a high degree of caution while traveling to the Bahamas. 

The Nassau Guardian covered the new advisory for Canadian tourists. The nation’s Tourism Minister downplayed the crime advisory during an interview with the Tribune newspaper, saying that "when I go to London, when I go to Paris, when I go to New York, I probably have just the same likelihood of being a victim of crime."  As I have said before, this is a common although misleading argument. The per capita murder and rape rates in the Bahamas is substantially higher than the per capita rate in the majority of U.S. and European cities. In the U.S., the per capita murder rate is a little over 4 per 100,000; in the Bahamas, the rate is around 40 per 100,000.

Canada has issued critical crime report for the Bahamas several times in the last several years,

We have also written about Canadians residents and citizens becoming victims of horrific violent crimes in the Bahamas. You can read a few of our articles here and here

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Photo credit: Jerrye and Roy Klotz MD CC 3.0 commons / wikipedia.  

The United Stated State Department issued a new crime warning for the Bahamas. You can read the new warning issued on January 10, 2018 here.

The crime warning states, in part:

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. U.S. government personnel are not permitted to visit the Sand Trap area in Nassau due to crime. Jet-ski operators are known to commit sexual assaults Nassau Port Cruiseagainst tourists, including minors. As a result, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use jet-ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Islands.

The warning refers to the U.S. State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) whose 2017 Report for the Bahamas characterizes crime in that country as "critical.

The OSAC report states that the majority of reported violent crimes were against local Bahamians and mostly occurred in areas of saturated criminality not typically visited by tourists; however, New Providence (Nassau), where around 250,000 Bahamians live, has witnessed "violent crimes in locations more commonly frequented by U.S. citizen tourists. In some instances, these incidents resulted in fatalities. Criminality and violent crime has increased on Grand Bahama island, notably crimes involving the use of machetes."

"Many criminals carry firearms, machetes, or knives, and these weapons are commonly brandished . . . there were reports of firearms used in the commission of armed robberies, where the assailant assaulted the victim after the victim resisted. Many of these armed robberies were snatch-and-grabs involving purses, jewelry, cell phones, and cash. Should you be confronted by someone demanding money/valuables, you should comply with their demands and make the encounter as brief as possible. If confronted, try to remain calm, clearly display your hands and do not make any sudden moves that could be interpreted as resistance.

Armed robberies, property crimes, purse snatchings, theft, fraud, and sexual assaults remain the most common crimes perpetrated against tourists."

The OSAC report further documents that "in 2016, numerous incidents were reported that either involved tourists or occurred in well-known tourist locations. Crimes occurred near popular tourist areas adjacent to the cruise ship port (Prince George Wharf) and the Cable Beach resort areas as well as the popular downtown area. Several armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas."

We have reported on over a dozen U.S. warnings about the high level of crime in the Bahamas, primarily in the capital city of Nassau. 

In 2014, we selected Nassau as the most dangerous port of call in our list of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Cruise Destinations in the World, and later stated that Nassau was "one gunshot away" from the cruise lines exiting that port. 

As we wrote then, we have been warning about crime in Nassau ever since we started this blog in September 2009. In October 2009, two "vicious robbers" robbed a group of 11 terrified cruise passengers from a Royal Caribbean ship by gunpoint in Nassau. In November 2009, 18 cruise passengers were robbed during excursions from Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise ships. 

The Nassau Guardian published an article about the new crime warning. 

In response to the warning which mentions the fish fry businesses at Arawak Cay in Nassau, Bahamian Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar criticized the crime advisory to the Tribune newspaper in Nassau, suggesting that Nassau was safe compared to major American cities like "Chicago or New York.”

This is a common although misleading argument.  The per capita murder rate in the country of the Bahamas is higher than the per capita rate in Chicago and many, many times higher than the per capita rate in New York City. In the U.S., the per capita murder rate is a little over 4 per 100,000; in the Bahamas, the rate is around 40 per 100,000

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Photo credit: TampAGS, for AGS Media – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Disney Dream Strike Dock in NassauAccording to reports on social media, the Disney Dream violently struck the dock in Nassau, Bahamas while trying to enter a berth on Saturday, September 30th. Photographs posted on line show damage to the cruise ship’ stern above the waterline.

The PortNassauWebcam operated by the popular @PTZtv captured images of the damage to the Disney cruise ship.

The Disney Blog seems to be one of the first sites to report on the incident. Scott Sanders’ Disney Cruise Line Blog also contain a number of photographs of the damage as well as repairs to the vessel’s hull.

A video of the accident was posted on Scott Lewitt’s YouTube page

Photo credit: @PTZtv