In our last blog, we discussed the escalating crime rate in one of the most popular cruise destinations, Honduras. Though several Caribbean ports frequented by cruise lines suffer from high crime rates, it appears as though the situation in Honduras is reaching a critical level. Even the US Department of State has issued warnings on the dangers of this nation, explaining how violent crime has increased drastically and advising visitors to exercise extreme caution while in port, remaining aware of their surroundings at all times.
Though crime rates are escalating, the warning states that “…the Government of Honduras lacks the resources to address these issues.”
Last week, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández issued a ban on guns in Roatan and the Bay Islands, the regions cruise lines most frequently call on, but just days after the announcement, a tragic shooting crime occurred.
According to news reports, a young man was shot on Sunday morning, just three days after Hernández announced the disarmament mandate. The victim, identified as Henry Alexander Almendarez Orellana, was reportedly shot by two men in the area where he was living, Barrio La Punta of Coxen Hole.
The US Department of State reports in the warning that Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. And whatever efforts are being undertaken don’t seem to be making a significant difference.
According to Hernández, the crime rate is partly due to the United States. In a news article published yesterday, Hernández was quoted saying that “Honduras has been living in an emergency for a decade. The root cause is that the United States and Colombia carried out big operations in the fight against drugs. Then Mexico did it.”
According to Hernández , these operations pushed drug traffickers into other countries, including Honduras, leading to greater crime levels.
It’s hard to believe that Hernández would blame a crime reduction effort for the spike in crime in Honduras, instead of taking action to increase security and law enforcement efforts in his own nation to combat the growing number of crime incidents. Though we applaud him for issuing the ban on guns, it seems there is a lot more that needs to be done in order to make Honduras a safer place for both tourists and locals.
So what exactly does this mean for cruise travelers? Given the fact that cruise lines might only stop calling on Honduras ports temporarily – if they even decide to stop port calls – it’s up to cruisers to make the decision as to whether or not they want to book an itinerary that calls on Honduras.
Any admiralty attorney at our firm can confirm that the best way to avoid a dangerous situation in Honduras is to stay away from the nation entirely, but realistically, we know that cruise lines will still call on the port, as it is one of the most popular and most profitable. So, if a cruiser does choose to book an itinerary featuring Honduras, the next thing they must decide is whether or not they will go ashore or remain on board while the vessel is in port.
For those who choose to go ashore, it’s important to stay as attentive as possible at all times. We highly advise guests going ashore to travel in large groups and to leave all valuables in their cabins. Instead of cash, opt for traveler’s checks and instead of an expensive camera, opt for an inexpensive disposable one, at least for use in Honduras, where robbers tend to target tourists for their expensive valuables. We also advise cruisers to remain as close to port as possible. Though crimes can – and have – occurred near port, it is much more likely that a criminal will strike in areas that are isolated.
And for anyone who has been the victim of a crime in port – or a crime on board their ship – it’s important to remember that legal help can be sought. Contact an admiralty lawyer if you or someone you love was the victim of a crime as quickly as possible after the incident occurs, and make sure to document as much evidence as possible.
Though crimes can happen, unfortunately, victims have the right to obtain justice, and that is the goal of each admiralty attorney at our firm.