Travel Advisory Issued for Top Cruise Destination

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The US Department of State has issued a Level 2 Travel Advisory for The Bahamas due to a recent increase in crime that may affect cruise guests.

The specific areas where heightened crime is noted are both Nassau and Freeport, and certain popular water activities are also listed as needing additional caution.

Travel Advisory for The Bahamas Due to Crime

A Level 2 Travel Advisory has been issued for visitors to The Bahamas due to crime and water activity safety. The advisory, updated by the US State Department on Friday, January 26, 2024, specifically lists New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport) islands as where the majority of crime occurs.

A Level 2 Travel Advisory is a guideline to “Exercise Increased Caution” if traveling to the destination. This is a sensible precaution for any traveler when visiting a foreign nation or unfamiliar region. The Bahamas has been listed at a Level 2 alert for more than a year, but the information is regularly updated to note more recent concerns.

“Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults, occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas,” the advisory states.

Cruise Passengers in the Bahamas
Cruise Passengers in the Bahamas (Photo Credit: Wagner Santos de Almeida / Shutterstock)

A high homicide rate is also noted but is not common in non-tourist areas. The US Embassy in Nassau notes in a separate security alert issued on January 24 that 18 homicides have occurred in Nassau so far in 2024, at all hours of the day, but that such incidents are primarily retaliatory gang violence.

Travel Warning Includes Water Activities

Of special note in the travel advisory is the attention paid to water activities, including tours, use of recreational watercraft, swimming, and shark encounters.

“Activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated. Watercraft may be poorly maintained, and some operators may not have safety certifications,” the advisory said. “Commercial watercraft operators have discretion to operate their vessels regardless of weather forecasts; injuries and fatalities have occurred.”

This is likely a reference to the unfortunate incident in November 2023 when a Blue Lagoon Island ferry sank after encountering rough waves, and one cruise passenger – an elderly woman – died. The exact circumstances of her death were not detailed, and cruise lines suspended offering the tours for several weeks until further safety protocols and inspections were completed.

Blue Lagoon Island has since reopened for tourists, but it is up to individual cruise lines whether or not to offer shore excursions for guests to purchase. Any visitors can purchase tours not offered through the cruise line if they prefer.

Nassau Cruise Port Upgrades
Nassau Cruise Port Upgrades

The advisory also noted that sharks have become a recent concern in The Bahamas, with injuries and fatalities in recent weeks.

“Be mindful of sharks when swimming and engaging in water activities, as there have been recent fatal and non-fatal incidents involving sharks,” the advisory reads.

A 10-year-old boy was bitten by a shark in mid-January while participating in an encounter experience through Blue Adventures by Stuart Cove, a tour operated through Atlantis Paradise Island Resort. This has prompted the temporary closure of the excursion offering. It should be noted, however, that the injured boy was not a cruise ship guest.

It is worthwhile to note that the US Department of State regularly issues travel advisories on popular cruise destinations around the world, with varying levels of precaution suggested.

Read Also: How to Stay Safe in a Cruise Port

Other destinations with Level 2 advisories include the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, the Turks and Caicos, the UK, and Belize. Level 3 advisories – “Reconsider Travel” – apply to destinations such as Honduras, Colombia, and Jamaica.

Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisories apply to extremely unstable regions, such as Russia, Ukraine, and Haiti – destinations that are rarely visited by cruise lines at this time.

Travelers should be aware that advisories are generally issued for an entire country, even if the crime or other instability is limited to a relatively small region.

Cruise lines are aware of these advisories and take every precaution to keep guests safe, including adjusting itineraries or changing port visits if a destination is considered extremely unstable.

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