Visiting the Bahamas on a Cruise Ship

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Cruising is a popular vacation option and one of the most common destinations for cruise ships to visit is the Bahamas because of its location just 50 miles from the United States. The Bahamas consist of 700 different islands, along with 2,000 rocks and cays that are located within the Atlantic.  More than six million visitors from the United States visit the Bahamas each year, 70 percent of whom do so by cruise ships.

The Bahamas are a great place to partake of water sports, indulge in ecotourism activities, go scuba diving or snorkeling, or simply enjoy the many beautiful sandy beaches and shop duty free.  Yet, while the Bahamas have a lot to offer those who visit, the Bahama’s crime rate is high and some locals and visitors are at risk of being seriously hurt if a criminal victimizes them while there.

If you are visiting the Bahamas as a cruise passenger and something goes wrong while you are on the Islands or any of the cays, you need to understand what your legal rights are. It is important to know what to do in the aftermath of an accident and who to hold accountable for the losses you have endured.

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. can help. We will work with you to determine if the cruise line should compensate you for economic and non-financial losses that occurred after you were hurt when your cruise ship docked in the Bahamas. We can also provide you with help gathering the evidence necessary to be able to hold the cruise ship accountable and can guide you through the process of pursuing a legal claim for compensation.

Our cruise ship injury lawyers have sued major cruise lines successfully in the past, and we understand how to hold ships accountable for problems that occur on shore excursions and issues that arise when cruise ships choose unsafe ports of call. To find out more about how our legal team can help if you have suffered any harm while in the Bahamas on a cruise, give us a call today.

What is the Crime Rate in the Bahamas?

The Bahamas crime rate is unfortunately very high, with visitors at risk of serious crimes including armed robbery and sexual assault offenses.

There were a record high number of murders in the Bahamas in 2015, with 146 murders occurring over the course of the year.  In 2017, there was a drop in the number of murders and an overall reduction in violent crime. However, there were still 111 murders according to the 2017 crime statistics.

While many victims of crimes are locals, tourists are also at risk of robberies, assaults, sexual assaults, murder and other types of crimesin the Bahamas.  New Providence has been an especially dangerous area for tourists, with rising crime affecting visitors. There have also been more crimes occurring on Grand Bahamas Island, including a rising number of offenses involving machetes.

Where are You At Risk of in the Bahamas?

While crime is a serious issue throughout the Bahamas, it is important to understand the specific risks in the different areas where you are most likely to visit while cruising. This includes Freeport and Nassau.

One of the most popular places to visit in Nassau is Atlantis, but the Atlantis, Bahamas crime rate is higher than most tourists realize. The Overseas Security Advisory Counsel has issued warnings about the crime rate in Nassau, Bahamas, including an alert-advising tourist not to be alone with Jet Ski operators, taxi drivers or scooter operators. The Counsel advises visitors that Jet Ski operators and taxi drivers have committed violent crimes, including sexual assault. Therefore, visitors should only use clearly marked buses or taxis with fully licensed drivers.

The Freeport, Bahamas crime rate is also high. Freeport is on Grand Bahama Island where crimes, including crimes involving machetes, have gone up. An increased risk of violent crimes means passengers visiting Freeport are in jeopardy.  Criminals regularly carry and often brandish not just machetes but also firearms and knives, and they commonly use these weapons in robberies.

Does the Crime Rate in the Bahamas Make Visiting the Bahamas Unsafe?

Cruise ships have basic obligations not to put their passengers in peril. This means that if a cruise line engages in negligent behavior, including putting passengers in jeopardy while at a port of call, it is possible to hold them accountable for the damages that those passengers experience.

Cruise lines can be liable not only if they create unsafe conditions for passengers, but also if they fail to protect passengers from security threats. This means cruise lines must provide reasonable security given the nature of the threat that passengers face.

Due to the crime rate in Nassau, Bahamas, cruise ships should exercise appropriate precautions to protect passengers. This means securing the ship to prevent unauthorized entry on the part of those who would do harm, as well as doing their due diligence and assessing the safety of any tour operators or shore excursions of which they help cruise passengers take advantage.

Unfortunately, cruise passengers cannot always count on the cruise line to fulfill its obligations. As a result, passengers should make sure they are aware of the crime risks throughout the Bahamas and should exercise caution with respect to where they go and what activities they take part in.

By being cautious and careful, most cruise passengers will have a safe time visiting the Bahamas – but this does not mean that things cannot go wrong no matter how conscientious a visitor to the Bahamas is.  The visit is never risk free, and many cruise lines have been negligent in the past by failing in various ways to keep passengers safe and secure.

How Can You Stay Safe While Visiting the Bahamas?

If your boat docks in the Bahamas, you should carefully consider whether you want to get off the boat or whether you would be safer not doing so. If you do decide to explore the Bahamas, it is important to take precautions.

Do not walk around alone or allow your children out of your sight while in the Bahamas, and especially make sure you are in groups or with at least one other person (if you are a woman).  Avoid any tours, excursions or water sports not booked through the vessel. Additionally, while the ship may arrange or facilitate tour excursions – and should conduct vetting to make sure tour operators are safe – you cannot always count on the ship to do the necessary due diligence and protect you from risk. Check the outfit out yourself.

You should leave valuables behind –especially expensive watches or jewelry – when going ashore in the Bahamas in order to reduce the risk that you will become the target of an armed robber. You should also limit the amount of cash and credit cards that you take with you ashore, and definitely leave your passport on the ship while visiting any of the islands in the Bahamas.

Be careful about consuming alcohol and beware that if you visit nightclubs or similar places, doing so puts you at greater risk of sexual assault. You need to be alert, aware, and have your wits about you at all times and consuming too much alcohol can make you an easy target for criminals who wish to do you harm.

Do not take unlicensed taxis or go anywhere with people you do not know and be cautious about the items you purchase and where you shop within the Bahamas.

Taking Action if You Suffered Harm

If you are hurt while visiting the Bahamas on a cruise ship, you need to make sure that you understand your legal rights. It can be complicated to determine if the ship’s negligence or the ship’s inappropriate policies and practices caused you to suffer harm – and it is often difficult to gather the evidence that you need to prove that the ship was responsible even when they are clearly to blame.

Therefore, to maximize your chances of recovering compensation, you need to ensure that an experienced, knowledgeable cruise ship injury attorney who knows how to handle these complex cases represents you. Because it is difficult to investigate and obtain evidence about the causes of your injury while in the Bahamas due to the distance between you and where the incident took place, as well as a lack of cooperation from the local authorities, you need an attorney who can provide the help you need to prove your case.

Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. has successfully pursued claims against major cruise lines for injuries that passengers have experienced while at ports of call. Whether you were a victim of sexual assault, a violent crime, a robbery or any injury while on a shore excursion, we can provide the help and support you need. Contact us today to find out more.