Will NCL Pull Cruise Ships out of Roatan Following Crew Member Death?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Things within the cruise industry are heating up as Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) decides to take a stand against violence and intolerance. Though our maritime attorneys here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have been reporting mostly on cruise ship accidents these days, for the first time in what seems like a long time, NCL, one of the world’s major cruise lines is doing its part to fight against injustice.

Last month, the Tunisian government placed a ban prohibiting Israeli cruise passengers from entering the nation. Israeli tourists aboard the Norwegian Jade were not allowed to disembark the ship when it entered the Port of Tunis in early March, however, Jewish non-Israeli travelers were still permitted to enter the country. Israeli passengers were offended that the captain, who knew ahead of time that Tunisia was not allowing Israelis to enter the country, did not inform them of the matter.

One passenger, who decided to remain anonymous, said NCL offered the Israelis compensation for the incident and issued an apology, but he would like to see the cruise line take a stand against the Tunisian practices.

The cruise line appears to have taken the passenger’s wishes into consideration, because shortly thereafter, NCL pulled its ships out of Tunis. The cruise line also issued a public statement on the matter, stating it would not condone what it perceives as discriminatory treatment against its Israeli clients.

“We want to send a strong message to Tunisia and ports around the world that we will not tolerate such random acts of discrimination against our guests,” read the statement. “We are outraged by this act…”

Tensions between Israel and Tunisia may have led NCL to pull the plug on Tunisian itineraries, but now, it seems as though the cruise line – and all others – may soon be pulling out of another country as well, Honduras.

Roatan is one of the most popular cruise line ports of call in the Caribbean, but due to recent violent stints, cruise lines may be forced to at least halt calling on the nation until the turbulence dies down.

Earlier this week, a Filipino crew member was shot and killed in Roatan by a bandit who was trying to steal the victim’s cell phone. Tragically, the crew member was left to bleed to his death on a main street, without any help.

Last week, our maritime lawyers also reported on two cruise passengers who were injured in Roatan during a shore excursion after the van they were riding in crashed into another vehicle, causing them to sustain serious injuries.

This is not the first time a cruise line port of call, becomes unsafe for travelers. Last year, crime in the Bahamas skyrocketed, leaving many cruise lines weary of even calling on Nassau. Carnival Cruise Line even issued letters to its guests warming them of the escalating crimes and advising them to remain as close to port as possible. Of course due to the fact that a lot of cruise ships are flagged in the Bahamas, rather that stop calling on the Island nation Carnival instead offered its passengers a list of “safe” areas to check out while in port.

Crime in Honduras, unfortunately, is much more serious than just one localized incident. In fact, the nation has had the highest murder rate in the world since 2010, prompting the U.S. government to issue a critical crime warning against Honduras. Things have not gotten better there since then, so it’s likely the crime rate will not dwindle anytime soon.

As of yesterday, NCL decided to cancel the Dawn and Jewel upcoming Roatan port of calls for one week.

Whether it will make this chance in its itinerary permanent is yet to be seen, but given NCL’s recent decision to stop calling on Tunisia indefinitely following the nation’s refusal to allow Israeli passengers into the country, it might decide to do the same thing with Roatan. After all death is more offensive to most people than discrimination.

Either way, we are very impressed with NCL’s decision in both accounts. It is refreshing to see a cruise line not put profits above everything else for once and we hope other cruise lines follow suit.