Cruise ship vacations are supposed to be fun…right? No one really thinks twice about what could possibly go wrong onboard a ship or at a foreign port when they are on vacation. After all, the purpose of a vacation is to kick back and relax. Once travelers board a ship and get a whiff of that party, care-free atmosphere, all their fears – if there even were any – start to fade away. But unfortunately, it’s not so easy to forget the dangers and focus solely the fun.
Many of the foreign ports that are frequented by cruise lines are actually pretty dangerous. Some of these places are notorious for their crime rates – especially crimes against tourists. Tourists can easily be spotted by criminals and often become the targets of crimes or become the victims of shore excursion accidents stemming from lack of safety. Sometimes, cruise lines give fair warning when docking at these ports, while other times, passengers are left in the dark. Our maritime lawyers have outlined a few of these not-so-hot hot spots so that you can be fully prepared on your next cruise vacation and avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
The Bahamas is by far the most popular foreign cruise destination. Every cruise line that features a Caribbean itinerary calls on the Bahamas and offers dozens of shore excursions at these tropical ports. Nassau, the capital, is the most frequented of all the cities in the Bahamas, but it also happens to be one of the most dangerous. The crime rate in the Bahamas is staggering, with tourists (including cruise passengers) being targeted for robberies and sexual assault. A few months ago, Carnival Cruise Line began passing out flyers to passengers when docking in Nassau, warning them of escalating crime rates and advising them to remain close to port. Anyone visiting the Bahamas is advised to keep a lookout for suspicious activity and to travel in large groups.
Honduras is another popular cruise destination. Last month, we reported on not one, but two arrests in Roatan (the largest island and most popular cruise spot in Honduras), both of which involved armed robbery. In one of the incidents, a gunman fatally shot a Norwegian Cruise Line crew member during a mugging – all over a cell phone. The other arrest involved the capture of the alleged “ringleader” of a gang that had been preying on tourists specifically. Armed with guns and knives, the gang would rob the tourists of their possessions, including cash, cell phones, cameras, and jewelry. Though Roatan is a beautiful island, it’s far too easy to come face to face with a perilous situation. Leave all valuables in your cabin, use traveler’s checks instead of cash and opt for disposable cameras.
Belize is a country located on the northeastern coast of Central America, known for its unique flora and fauna. Unfortunately, it’s also known for its high rate of shore excursion accidents and crimes. Just last month, two cruise passengers were injured while on a shore excursion when the van they were riding in collided head-on with another vehicle. Cave tubbing is the most popular shore excursion in Belize, but it has also proven to be one of the most dangerous. Several cruise passengers have been injured and some have even drowned during cave tubbing excursions in Belize. What not many travelers realize is that the vast majority of shore excursions are not actually sponsored by cruise lines, so there is very little safety regulation. Anyone visiting Belize or participating in a shore excursion should exercise extreme caution, and if an emergency does arise, should contact a shore excursion accident lawyer immediately.
These are just a few of the most dangerous destinations visited by cruise lines, but the list extends far beyond these three ports. Mexico and Jamaica are infamous for drug smuggling and drug crimes and kidnappings. The Virgin Islands have also been plagued by robberies and armed assaults. In reality, any foreign country can be dangerous, but by sticking in large groups and remaining close to port, passengers can reduce their chances of becoming targets of accidents and crimes.