What’s Going on in the Bahamas? Another Crime Warning Could Spell Disaster for Cruise Lines

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Prince George Wharf in Nassau Harbor

Thinking about cruising to the Bahamas? Well, you might want to rethink that decision after hearing about the latest travel warning that’s been issued.

Any maritime lawyer can tell you that some of the ports cruise lines call on are not what you’d call the model of safety. We’ve often discussed how certain destinations in the Caribbean have been wrought with crime and have posed a danger not only for cruise passengers, but for crew members as well. One of these ports is the Bahamas.

For years, the U.S. government has been trying to alert potential travelers as to the dangers of visiting the Bahamas. Crime has been escalating at an alarming rate, causing some cruise lines, like Carnival, to hand out warning letters to its guests when docking in the island nation. Both cruise lines and the U.S. government have also provided travelers with a list of areas in the Bahamas prone to crime so travelers can steer clear of them, and have advised travelers to remain as close to port as possible. But with every warning there seems to be an equal, if not greater ratio of crimes that continue to occur throughout the Bahamas. Despite all the efforts that have been made on the Bahamian government’s part, such as increasing police forces in Nassau, nothing seems to work. Crime rates are higher than ever, which leads us to wonder: If the Bahamian government is taking the crime problem as seriously as they should?

What makes matters worse is the fact that the Bahamas is one of the most popular cruise destinations, if not the most frequented. Nearly all cruise lines that call on Caribbean ports feature the Bahamas on their itineraries, which means on any given day, there may be thousands of potential victims who might fall prey to any number of despicable criminal acts, including armed robbery and sexual assault.

And now, another crime warning has been issued for the Bahamas, making it the fourth crime warning for the nation this year alone. Once again, those visiting the Bahamas have been advised to stay alert and aware of their surroundings due to escalating crime rates.

We never think about all the awful things that might happen during a cruise vacation, but unfortunately, bad things can – and do happen. It’s always easy to get caught up in the excitement and novelty of discovering a new destination, and criminals are fully aware of that. They know tourists are likely to carry cash and know that the odds of a tourist filing a police report and following up with a case once they are back in the U.S. is rare. This means that anyone can become the victim of a crime at any time. In fact, many of the latest criminal acts in the Bahamas have occurred in broad daylight and in open, public areas.

So what can you do to protect yourself if your cruise features the Bahamas as a port of call?

For one, travel in groups. It is much less likely a criminal will attack those who travel in numbers as opposed to a single traveler. This is especially true for women, who frequently become the victims of sexual assault or kidnapping in foreign countries. In fact, the travel warning specifically noted that sexual crimes have been on the rise in the Bahamas, which means women should be extra careful while in port.

Another thing you can do to reduce your chances of becoming the target of a crime is to carry credit cards or travelers checks instead of cash and leave all valuable belongings on board the ship, including jewelry, cell phones, and cameras. Opt for walkie talkies and disposable cameras instead. Wear a load whistle on your wrist or around your neck and carry a walking stick that you can used as a defensive tool. Don’t carry a purse or back pack or anything else that might identify you as a cruising tourist like clothing with the vessels name or logo on it or a wrist bracelet from on board. Walk with purpose and determination to your designation rather than ambling about from shop to shop. Most importantly do not over consume alcohol or other drugs that might affect your awareness level or dull your senses and your inner voice that something is not right. And while an incident can occur just about anywhere, staying close to port and avoiding places that have been specifically tagged as high crime areas can also make for a safer visit to the Bahamas.

You can read about the recent crime warning here.