Royal Caribbean Cruise Line has agreed to stop warning its cruise passengers about increased crime in Nassau and identifying parts of the city to avoid.
Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation for the island nation, told the Nassau Tribune this week that he employed “gentle nudging” to persuade Royal Caribbean to drop an “unwarranted” passenger advisory being distributed to disembarking passengers of the cruise line’s Anthem of the Seas.
D’Aguilar reached out to Miami-based Royal Caribbean after several cruise industry websites reported on the letter, signed by Anthem of the Seas’ captain Srecko Ban.
“We feel it is important to to make our guests aware that Nassau has been experiencing an increase in crime,” the letter said.
A copy of Ban’s letter posted on various websites, dated Dec. 26, pointed out that the most common types of crimes are nonviolent, “such as theft of personal items,” and noted that “thousands of visitors routinely travel to Nassau without incident.”
It went on to provide safety tips and urged visitors to Nassau to be mindful of their personal safety “like visitors to all major foreign cities in the world today.”
Among the tips:
— Leave valuables and irreplaceable items inside your stateroom safe.
— Avoid wearing obviously expensive jewelry.
— Carry only cash and credit cards needed on each outing.
— Use discretion when handling cash publicly.
— Keep belongings, especially expensive cameras and phones, secure and in sight.
The letter also recommended guests “not venture too far from tourist areas,” and identified as “particular areas of concern” the Sand Trap, the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay, “and areas of Nassau referred to as ‘Over the Hill’ by locals, which should be avoided after sunset.”
After stories about the letter were posted by such sites as cruiseradio.net and travelpulse.com, D’Aguilar on Dec. 27 told a Bahamas newspaper, the Nassau Tribune, that he felt “blindsided.”
But the Tribune story noted that the Anthem captain’s warning mirrored a January 2018 travel advisory by the U.S. State Department, telling tourists to “exercise increased caution in the Bahamas because of crime” and avoid the Over the Hill and Fish Fry areas at night.
The Canadian government warned tourists to avoid the same two areas in its own advisory on Dec. 20. Both countries’ advisories listed armed robberies, burglaries, purse snatchings, theft, fraud and sexual assaults as the most common crimes against travelers.
The Tribune story quoted D’Aguilar saying he had never heard complaints about the Fish Fry in numerous meetings with cruise line executives.
“I don’t know of any major or significant crime happening to a cruise passenger in quite some time,” he said. “I don’t know about petty crime, but in my humble opinion Nassau is as safe as any other city.”
Despite the warnings, the State Department advisory also reported statistics from Royal Bahamas Police Force Commissioner Anthony Ferguson showing a 14 percent drop in overall crime and a 22 percent drop in violent crime. “The one exception was a 10 percent increased in murders,” the advisory said, adding most reported violent crimes took place in areas not frequented by tourists.
On Monday, the Nassau Tribune posted a follow-up story quoting D’Aguilar saying he convinced Royal Caribbean through “gentle nudging” to withdraw its crime warning and replace it with “a more generalized warning … that does not mention Nassau by name and could be taken as referring to any of its ports of call.”