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 

Amsterdam established a tax on cruise passengers effective January 1, 2019. The new tax of €8 ($9.12) applies to every cruise passenger over 3 years old per 24-hour period.

As reported by the LA Times, two cruise lines have cancelled port visits to Amsterdam because of the nominal tax.  MSC Cruises and Cruise & Maritime Voyages canceled future stops.

The trade organization for the cruise industry, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), claims that the tax is “extremely disproportionate.” It threatened Amsterdam with cancellation by cruise lines which could result in a budget deficit of several million euros  as a result of reduced fees collected by the Port of Amsterdam.

However, the only thing truly disproportionate is that the cruise industry pays virtually no U.S. taxes at all.

Amsterdam, like other popular European cities, is struggling with the heavy demands placed on the city by mass tourism. Amsterdam wants tourists to make a fair contribution to the city.  Amsterdam’s website states that:

“. . . companies operating sea and river cruises should pay a tourist tax of 8 euros per passenger. This ‘day tripper tax’ will only apply to cruise passengers who do not live in Amsterdam and are only stopping over, not to passengers who are starting or ending a cruise in Amsterdam.”

Amsterdam is not the only city struggling with the influx of cruise tourism. There has been considerable news coverage of the “increasing hordes of tourists” descending on Venice every year.

Compare the crushing crowd of tourists in Venice which I photographed in 2016 during a family vacation (top) with the photo which I took when traveling alone there in 1977 (bottom).

The NewEurope newspaper states that:

After years threatening to regulate the number of visitors entering the city, which is constantly under the threat of sinking into the lagoon that it sits on, the Venetian government has decided that it will introduce an entry fee, or landing tax, of up to €10, depending on the season, for day-trippers arriving on cruise ships.

CLIA, which of course resists taxes of all types on cruise companies and their customers, expressed its disappointment with the new taxes. It tried to explain its refusal to honor the taxes by waxing historically:

“At the core of its history is Venice’s relationship with the sea. Ships have always been part of its identity and the cruise industry represents the modern manifestation of a centuries-old tradition.”

But the billion dollar monster cruise ships which tower over the city today could hardly have been imagined when Venice was built 500 years ago.

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

Read: Are Cruise Ships Ruining Venice Or Just Memories of My Youth?

Photos credit: Top – Venice (2016) –  Jim Walker; middle – Venice (2016); bottom – Venice – Jim Walker (1977).

Big Red - Harvest Caye - NCLThis weekend, a reader of this blog sent me an article from the San Pedro Sun regarding NCL’s exploitation of rare macaws in its development in Belize at Harvest Caye.

Scarlet Macaws

NCL reportedly obtained numerous birds (toucans and other macaws) and animals and reptiles from the Belize government from the wild and/or rescue and rehabilitation centers for display in cages for the benefit of cruise visitors.

The article addressed the plight of a scarlet macaw, which is one of the most poached birds in Belize, which was rescued by the Belize Bird Rescue (BBR), a non-profit organization in Belize. The male bird, which was named “Big Red,” was rescued and underwent rehabilitation for wild release; however, several weeks ago the bird reportedly was given to Harvest Caye to entertain cruise tourists, much to the outrage of local Belizeans. Critics of NCL’s boondoggle in Belize point out that NCL did not even mention a captive animal facility in the cruise line environmental impact assessment or obtain permission to possess rare birds in its environmental clearance process.  NCL apparently created its own so-called “conservation NGO” but it is not working with any of the existing NGO’s in Belize.

The article about NCL’s conduct, although outrageous, is just one of many examples of the abuse of birds and animals at cruise line private resorts and excursions throughout the world.

Swim-With-The-Dolphins

Dolphin rescue groups have repeatedly protested against ”swim-with-the-dolphins” excursions, like the notorious Blackbeard’s Cay in the Bahamas, which have become a major feature of the cruise experience. Carnival and Royal Caribbean advertise them as “once in a lifetime experiences.” The trade of dolphins in the Caribbean is big business. There are many dozens of swim-with-the-dolphins excursions sold by cruise lines in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean. The Dolphin Project writes about dolphins “confined in tiny, chlorinated tanks, where they are subject to relentless sun exposure (often resulting in sunburn), noise pollution, continuous human interaction and water toxins. Some live in polluted harbor waters, in hastily constructed holding pens, “conveniently” close to cruise ship ports for quick, tourist access.”

Cayman Island Turtle FarmCayman Islands Turtles

An animal protection group explains that in their natural ocean habitats, green sea turtles can dive to depths over 400 feet and can swim several thousands of miles a year. But held in captivity in what was originally called the Cayman Turtle Farm, subsequently re-branded as the friendlier-sounding Cayman Turtle Centre, the turtles are kept in small, crowded holding pens and are removed only for entertainment purposes to be mishandled by tourists and used for props in selfie-photos. You can also eat the turtles which are bred at the tourist facility. More than 200,000 people visit the tourist-turtle farm each year; approximately three quarters are cruise passengers.

Surrey Horses in Mexico, the Bahamas and the Caribbean

Horse tours are a popular tourist attraction for cruise visitors. Cruise lines sell dozens of excursions to tour the various port towns via horse drawn carriages. In many destinations, the horses are poorly fed Carriage Horses - Bahamasand abused. They suffer from heat exhaustion, dehydration, malnutrition, traffic fumes, noise pollution, stress, and injuries. The situation in Nassau is particularly bad; a malnourished horse dropped dead on Bay Street in downtown Nassau only to be tied by the legs and dragged down the street by a pickup truck. Exploiting horses is a dreadful way to spend a vacation cruise.

The cruise industry supports hundreds of local ports and has great influence over activities by the local communities. For example, if the cruise line would stop doing business with the tour operators who abuse horses and do business only with reputable bus and van operators, the abuse would stop virtually overnight.

Similarly, if the cruise industry would stop calling at port countries like the Faroe Islands which slaughter pilot whales, there would be considerable pressure to end the barbaric sport of killing sentient mammals, as we have urged for years.

There are literally literally thousands of cruise excursions offered by each of the major cruise lines Faroe Islands Slaughter Whaleswhich take the majority of the revenue from the excursion. There’s little consideration given by the cruise lines to anything except how much money the cruise lines can collect. I tend to view the problem as starting at the top, with the greedy cruise executives looking to collect every nickle and dime possible; but thoughtless cruise passengers are part of the problem too. One person commenting on NCL’s exploitation of macaws in Belize posted this comment:

“Par for the course for people who encourage thousands of passengers to swim with captive dolphins, ride tortured elephants, camels and the like. However the passengers are equally to blame.”

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

This petition to end the exploitation of Belize’s wildlife on NCL’s Harvest Caye has reached 20,000 signatures. Read here.

Photo credits:

Big Red – San Pedro Sun

Dolphin – Delfines En Libertad, Report on captive dolphins in Mexico.

Turtles –  World Animal Protection.

Horses – Stop Brutal Abuse and Suffering of Surrey Horses in the Bahamas.

Pilot Whales – Green Travel Life.

Nassau Bahamas Shooting DeathThis morning, a driver of a minibus, reportedly operated by Stuart Cove Dive shop, was shot and killed in downtown Nassau, Bahamas. The Facebook page of Nassau resident Tellis Virgil‎’s Speak Up Bahamas discussed the incident and includes a photograph of the crime scene. 

Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas is described as "Nassau’s leading full service dive resort."

Five cruise ships are in the port of Nassau today: Carnival Pride, Carnival Elation, Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Breakaway. 

The Tribune newspaper in Nassau reports that police "were called to the scene of the shooting at East Street North, near Prince George Wharf around 7am where they discovered the body of an adult male by a Stuart Cove’s minibus parked near The Crew Pub and entrance to the cruise port." 

It is currently unknown exactly when the five cruise ships arrived at the port and disembarked passengers ashore. Several of the ships disembarked their passengers after 7:00 a.m., if this is in fact when the shooting occurred. But many people commented that tourists were waiting to board the minibus when the shooting took place.

One of the comments to the Tribune article expressed concern that the "man was murdered on the doorstep of our cruise ship industry in broad daylight." Other people voiced their concerns on the Speak Up Bahamas Facebook page of the impact of this crime on Nassau. Several people commented that there are already two police officers from the Royal Bahamian Police Force on virtually every street corner in downtown Nassau to try and deter crimes which may affect tourists.  

Cruise Law News has repeatedly reported on the high crime rate in this port city.  The murder rate in Nassau is around 8 to 10 times higher than the U.S. murder rate per 100,000. The murder rate in the U.S. is around 4.5 per 100,000; the murder rate of the Bahamas is over 30 per 100,000.  Considering that the vast majority of murders in the Bahamas occur in New Providence where Nassau is located, the murder rate is probably over 40 per 100,000 for Nassau.     

I have been quoted as saying that Nassau is one gunshot away from cruise lines pulling out of Nassau. Nassau is viewed by the Miami-based cruise lines as a convenient deep water port with cheap dockage fares and low passenger head-taxes. But Nassau has been the subject of at least a dozen critical crime warnings by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. embassy in Nassau over the last several years. Cruise lines will probably still continue to call on Nassau because it is a close, money-making port (although it will lose cruise tourists to Cuba over the years to come). But things will drastically change should a cruise passenger become a murder victim in Nassau. 

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

Photo credit: Tellis Virgil‎’s Speak Up Bahamas

WPRO radio interviewed me this morning on its news talk radio show with Gene Valicenti about the New York Times article focusing on crime in Nassau, Bahamas. 

WPRO has a large readership in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

We talked about U.S. citizens who were victims of armed robberies. We talked about tourists, including minor children, sexually assaulted by jet-ski operators on Paradise Island in Nassau.  

You can listen to the interview here (after the Jimmy Buffett into).    

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

Photo Credit: Atlantis Paradise Island – Wikipedia / D Ramey Logan Creative Commons 3.0 / WPPilot Atlantis Paradise Island

US Virgin IslandseTN Global Travel Industry News recently published an article about  tourism issues in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) and the USVI Commissioner of Tourism, Beverly Nicholson-Doty.

In its original publication, eTN cited several sources of information for the proposition that the USVI has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. The territory has a staggering homicide rate around 35.5 per 100,000 people, whereas the United States as a whole has a rate around 4.7 per 100,000 people. (In 2012, the per capita murder rate in the USVI was even higher, around 56 per 100,000 people). 

We selected the USVI as the eight most dangerous cruise destination in the Caribbean in 2014. Earlier this year, I wrote that there are "way too many guns, drugs, robberies, and murders to pretend the USVI is a place for a family to vacation."

The leading maritime case involving a cruise line’s duty to warn passengers of dangers ashore involves a young girl murdered while visiting St. Thomas during a cruise ship stop.

eTN concluded that "the discrepancy between the socioeconomic status, ethnicity and colonial history of the local population stands in contrast to that of the tourist, straining the relationship between residents and visitors which is evidenced, in some cases, by poor service and worker hostility. Negative employee behavior combined with infrastructure decline pushes tourism to other destinations and creates a downward spiral for USVI visits." This is an accurate insight in to the crime and tourism problems in my opinion. 

But then eTN received a phone call from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). CTO claimed that the article "had many errors" and disputed that the USVI is dangerous. CTO failed to provide eTN with any evidence or statistics to indicate that the USVI is safe.

Inexplicably, eTN published a second article in which it wrote "of course it should be acknowledged the US Virgin Islands is one of the safest travel and tourism destinations in the world when it comes to U.S. Virgin Islands Crimecrime."  It cited no evidence to support this conclusion which was 180 degrees opposite of what it concluded in its original article.

Tourism officials in the Caribbean are in the business of selling tropical vacations to their islands. To accomplish this feat in an ever-increasing dangerous environment, tourism bureaus often suppress crime statistics and dispute the statistics when they are released.

There’s no dispute that the USVI murder rate has been 8 to 12 times higher than the U.S. rate in the last couple of years. It’s dangerous for families cruising to St. Thomas not to understand this.

It’s disappointing to see a reputable publication like eTN flip-flop so dramatically after receiving a single telephone call from the Caribbean Tourism Organization. 

 

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

Photo Credit: Top – Wikipedia / Charlotte Amalie Creative Commons 2.5; bottom – Virgin Islands Daily News

The headlines in the Nassau, Bahamas newspapers over the last 24 hours are ominous –  Man Shot Dead in Home InvasionShot Dead Defending Parents and Fatal Shooting in Fox Hill

These murders take the number of homicides in the Bahamas to 96 and 97 for the year.  

The Nassau newspapers read like a war correspondent’s daily account of mayhem and misery.  In the last week, the Tribune has blasted headlines like Shootings on the IncreaseTwo Murders in Six Hours, and Latest Armed Robberies Bring Month’s Total To 30. The Nassau Guardian’s recent Crime Nassau Bahamasgruesome headlines include Two Killed in Weekend Violence and Man Gunned Down Protecting Family

Last year there were 111 murders in the Bahamas in 2013. The country is averaging 10 murders a month in 2014. The 2013 rate will be exceeded sometime in December.

Defenders of the Bahamas point out that the Bahamas consists of some 700 islands. But there’s no question that the vast majority of these violent crimes occur in New Providence (Nassau) where the majority of the cruise passengers disembark.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Miami’s metro area has a population of around 5.5 million. That’s twenty-two times the population of New Providence (250,000). Miami-Dade had 229 murders in 2013. Even though the Miami metro area has 22 times more people, it has only approximately 2 times as many murders. Plus the police force in Nassau is ineffective, the legal system is broken and the tourism officials try to cover the violence up.

Many cruise tourists have an image of Miami as being high in crime, but they don’t understand that disembarking in Nassau is far more dangerous.

Both the U.S. and Canada have issued crime warnings for the Bahamas because of the violence.

More and more cruise passengers tell me that they stay on the ship when they reach port in Nassau. They say that they’re bored with the straw market and run-down Bay Street. They don’t want to risk walking off the ship into a shabby port and becoming a victim of armed robbery by a young man with a gun. 

 

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

Photo Credit: Nassau Tribune

This week the "Banana Coast" cruise port in Honduras opens for mega-cruise ship business.

The travel publications all appear to have written essentially the the same article announcing with great fanfare that large cruise ships will begin calling at the port in the Bay of Trujillo, Honduras. Billed as the newest cruise port in the western Caribbean, the facility in Trujillo (mainland Honduras) will host the arrival of Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) Norwegian Jewel on October 15th.  

Ships from Holland America, Silversea, Oceania and P&O Cruises will follow. 

Banana Coast Travel Agent Central and TravelPulse each describe the new port as including a jewelry shop, a shop selling organic frozen coconut drinks, a duty-free liquor, a gift shop, and kiosks offering refreshments and souvenirs crafted by local artisans. Sounds like every other cruise port in the Caribbean designed to separate cruise visitors from their cash as soon as possible. 

The official website of the Banana Coast says that the Bay of Trujillo was the first mainland landing spot of Christopher Columbus in 1502 during his fourth voyage to the New World. It also says that this part of Honduras has a rich cultural heritage and visitors will experience the culture of the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna, an indigenous group who have lived in the area for centuries. 

What the developer and travel publications aren’t saying is that there has been considerable controversy surrounding the development of the Honduran port and condominium projects. 

One of the principal developers of the mega-tourism project in Trujillo is Randy Jorgensen, general manager of Grande Trujillo Authoridad. He’s a Canadian multi-millionaire who reportedly became wealthy in the pornographic video business. Several publications call him the "Canadian Porn King" (photo below with former Honduran President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo Sosa). He created Adults Only Video (warning XXX). Canada’s Macleans magazine reported in 2001 that Jorgensen had been "accused of making X-rated films with underage girls in his vacation home in Honduras," according to Media Lens organization.

Jorgensen and others are accused of converting the beautiful Honduran coast into a large scale tourism project that includes vacation condominiums and the cruise ship facility, which have displaced and destroyed the indigenous Garífuna communities. The developers are accused of illegally obtaining the land and expelling the Garífuna people from the Bay of Trujillo.

Travel Pulse says that cruise tourists will be "welcomed by local Garifuna performers . . .  and dancers in colorful attire." Sounds to me like a faux Disney World recreation of the displaced local inhabitants for the amusement of the arriving U.S. cruise passengers.

In related news, Cruise Critic reports that the airstrip at the Mayan site of Copan in Honduras will open in December and will provide flights for cruise passengers to travel to Copan as a shore excursion. Cruise Critic says that this will "allow passengers, for the first time, to make an excursion off the island (from Roatan) to the country’s interior."

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has been working with the cruise lines and representatives of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) to market Copan as a cruise Randy Jorgensen "Porn King"attraction

There’s no mention in any of the travel publication hullabaloo of the fact that Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, or that it is subject to critical crime warnings from the U.S. State Department.

Real estate developers and agents, resort owners, dive and water-sport companies, and land-owners in the Honduran cruise port of Roatan have touted Roatan as a crime-free paradise, even though cruise passengers and crew members have been victims of violent crime and one NCL crew member was killed there this year. The U.S. expatriates claim that as an island, Roatan is much safer than the mainland of Honduras. 

So what’s going to happen when the cruise lines disembark passengers in the Honduran mainland or fly passengers to the country’s interior? The murder rate in Honduras has ranged between 70 and 90 per 100,000 in the last several years compared to 4 to 5 per 100,000 in the U.S. What safeguards do the cruise lines, the Honduran president, and the Caninadian porn businessman have in mind, if any, for those cruise tourists arriving in Trujillo?

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

Photo Credit: Top – Banana Coast via Travel Agent Central; Bottom – Honduras Living The Top 10 Reasons to Invest in Trujillo Honduras  

November 21, 2016 Update:  The Canadian porn king and the Caribbean paradise.

 

//www.youtube.com/embed/9muyLAa3rRc?rel=0

//www.youtube.com/embed/uraZy5NTvZg?rel=0

//www.youtube.com/embed/Nkya02AZwZQ?rel=0

Roatan HondurasThe La Prensa newspaper in Honduras reports that President Juan Orlando Hernández approved legislation last night at a cabinet session to declare that guns are prohibited in Roatan and the Bay Islands.

The article is entitled Gobierno de Honduras declara desarme en Islas de la Bahía.

The newspaper says that the initiative is part of a program to free tourist areas of violence in the country to encourage tourism.

The president declared the Bay Islands as a zone free of weapons with the objective of substantially improving security and promoting the island as paradise. 

Emilio Silvestri, head of the Institute of Tourism, said that it is urgent to remove firearms from the tourist sites.

Seems like it a desperate policy to me.

Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, with some of its police and national soldiers corrupt. The islands are supposedly safer than the mainland although a crew member was shot and killed this year and cruise passenger and tourists were robbed at gunpoint. 

What the saying?  When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

 

Photo Credit:  La Prensa

The owners of the Atlantis mega-resort in Nassau are worried about the U.S. report on the high rate of crime there, according to the Nassau Guardian

The U.S. report from Department of State states that armed robbery and sexual assault are all on the increase in Nassau and these crimes are affecting tourists and cruise passengers, including around the hotels, resorts and casinos. 

Over the years, Atlantis has experienced significant problems with crime. Tourists have been robbed at Atlantis Resort Bahamasgunpoint and the resort’s own employees have attempted to rob the casino. You can read about the crime here:

Official: Security foils robbery at Bahamas resort

Tourists robbed outside Atlantis

Last September, the Nassau Tribune reported that Atlantis was “very concerned” about a crime warning issued to cruise passengers by Carnival cruise line.  Atlantis seemed afraid that the cruise line might scare off the resort’s potential customers by warning its passengers of the crime problems ashore before the passengers disembark.

You can read our article: Atlantis Discourages Carnival from Warning Cruise Passengers of Crime in Nassau.

Nassau needs to get a grip on crime and its effect on tourists and cruise passengers.

Atlantis has to reassure its lenders that the situation is under control as it tries to refinances its debt. But the cat is out of the bag. Few rational people can dispute that the island has a problem. The cruise lines are seeing fewer and fewer people actually get off the cruise ships.  

It’s a house built of cards. They could all fall down. Atlantis, the cruise lines, and the Bahamas tourism people are all hoping, and praying, that a tourist doesn’t get shot. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / WPPilot