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Caribbean Travel Warnings Raise Safety Concerns Among Cruise Travelers

Travelers are unsure about visiting ports that have active travel advisories after reports surfaced of a sexual assault involving two Carnival Cruise Line passengers in the Bahamas.

The passengers, two women from Kentucky, claimed that while on the island of Grand Bahama, they were drugged and sexually assaulted. Two men were detained by Bahamas police last week on suspicion of the crime.

Since 2018, the U.S. State Department has issued a Level 2 advisory for the Bahamas, urging travelers to “exercise increased caution” due to criminal activity. Additionally, the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas recently issued a security alert highlighting recent murders in Nassau.

Amber Shearer and Dongayla Dobson’s attorney, Nicholas Gerson, stated to USA TODAY last week that his clients were unaware of any warnings provided by Carnival regarding the Bahamas.

A Carnival representative, Matt Lupoli, mentioned in an email that the shipboard team regularly provides safety guidance to guests while onshore. However, he did not address Gerson’s statements.

The Bahamas government pushes back stating the country is “safe”

On January 30, the Bahamian Tourism Board’s website issued an official statement from the prime minister’s office assuring visitors that the country is “alert, attentive, and proactive” and that the archipelago “remains a safe and welcoming destination.”

The office added that these incidents “do not reflect general safety in the Bahamas, a country of 16 tourism destinations, and many more islands,” referring to the 18 murders in Nassau since the year’s beginning that were detailed in the most recent crime alert for the Bahamas.

“Our law enforcement agencies are taking rigorous steps to maintain our well-earned reputation, including an enhanced police presence and additional police resources (including facial recognition CCTV surveillance technology) and training,” the statement reads.

How to stay safe in port on cruises

Before making a reservation, Carrie Pasquarello, CEO and co-founder of Global Secure Resources Inc., advises learning about the location. “Our goal is to ensure that our travelers are proactive, well-prepared, and aware of both level advisories and risk indicators,” she stated.

To obtain more context, reviewing warnings from nations like the United States, Canada, or Australia is also advised. “Since every country has a unique risk assessment and perspective, I would like to have a comprehensive overview of the place I intend to visit,” she continued.

In the case of American travelers, they can also sign up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which will provide them with security data on where they are heading, and assistance if the U.S. Embassy needs to get in contact with them in case of emergency.

Owner of the company Jafeldma Travel, Jared Feldman, urges arranging a scheduled shore excursion when venturing ashore. “Try to travel with other people, and not necessarily be on your own,” he advised, adding that it’s helpful to observe other standard safety precautions like being aware of your surroundings and exploring during day hours

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