Cruise crime is an issue our maritime lawyers here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. have long been discussing. We’ve talked extensively about how some of the most popular cruise destinations, including the Bahamas, Honduras and Belize, are among the most dangerous locations in the world. Yet, while the number of crimes against tourists at these foreign ports continues to increase, little has been done to improve passenger and crew member safety when venturing to these nations. One approach is to completely avoid these ports – at least for the time being until crime rates start to decrease. This would be the ideal approach, since avoiding a dangerous place entirely assures that no one will be placed in harm’s way. Realistically speaking, we understand that cruise lines can’t completely eliminate certain port calls, because Caribbean itineraries would fall apart.
Another approach, which would at least provide some sort of alert regarding a particular port’s crime level, is for cruise lines to start educating passengers and crew members as to the truth about these destinations and the fact that there is a very high chance of armed robbery and sexual assault. A few months back, Carnival Cruise Line issued warning notifications to its passengers taking Bahamian itineraries, informing them of the crime rate and instructing them on which areas were deemed “safe” and which should be avoided. This was, in our opinion, a great idea. While the port wasn’t entirely avoided, at least Carnival recognized the possibility of passengers and crew members encountering a potentially dangerous situation, and wanted to ensure everyone was fully aware of which areas were more prone to criminal attacks so as to plan a visit accordingly.
Unfortunately, it’s been over a year since this warning was issued, and the Bahamas, among other foreign ports, continues to be a volatile destination for cruise travel. In fact, the situation is so dire, the U.S. Department of State addressed the issue in a recent publication, the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) crime report for the Bahamas for 2014.