Try 3 months for $3

Travelers to the Bahamas should "exercise increased caution" when vacationing on the islands, particularly New Providence and Grand Bahama islands, the U.S. State Department warned in a travel advisory posted this week.

The "Level 2" warning places the popular destination in the same risk category as Belize, the subject of a similar crime-focused advisory, and European nations with risks of terrorism, including Germany, Spain and France.

In 2018, the U.S. and Canadian governments issued three travel warnings for the Bahamas. Those prompted Royal Caribbean to issue its own warning to passengers last year, but the cruise line later removed references to specific locations following complaints by the nation's ministry of tourism. Other cruise lines that go to the Bahamas from South Florida are Norwegian, Carnival, Disney Cruise Line and Bahamas Paradise.

The latest warning, dated Feb. 25, stated that "violent crime such as burglaries, armed robberies and sexual assault is common, even during the day and in tourist areas."

Activities involving commercial recreational watercraft, including water tours, are not consistently regulated, watercraft are often not maintained, and many companies are not certified to operate in the Bahamas, the advisory said.

"Jet ski operators have been known to commit sexual assaults against tourists," the advisory said, and as a result, U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use jet ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise islands.

The advisory urges tourists to exercise "extreme caution" when in areas known as "Over the Hill," south of Shirley Street, and the "Fish Fry" at Arawak Cay in Nassau.

The State Department's advisory said numerous reports have been received of tourists being robbed at gunpoint or knifepoint

Other dangers include encounters with drug or human smugglers threatening U.S. citizens "in an attempt to coerce them into smuggling on their behalf," plus credit card fraud and real estate and timeshare scams, the warning states.

Victims of crimes in the Bahamas should call local police at 919 or 911, plus contact the U.S. Embassy at 242-322-1181.

The embassy can help victims find medical care, assist in reporting a crime to police, contact friends and relatives, provide lists of local attorneys, help arrange flights home and provide emergency loans, the State Department's website says.

Of the 6 million tourists who go to the Bahamas each year, a majority are from the United States, the State Department's website says.

The State Department's warning to exercise increased caution is the third-most serious of four danger levels, with the most dangerous being "Do not travel" and the second-most dangerous being "Reconsider travel." Countries travelers are advised not to go to include Haiti, Afghanistan and Venezuela while the government urges travelers to reconsider going to Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Travelers to the least-dangerous destinations are advised to "Exercise normal precautions." This advisory applies to the majority of nations.

Spokespersons for Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines did not respond to questions about the report.

A spokeswoman for the budget-priced Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, which runs daily trips to the Bahamas from the Port of Palm Beach, said the cruise line plans to alert its passengers about the State Department warning.

"We thoroughly investigate our onshore operators and only work with properly licensed and insured operators," said Charlotte Parks, of the Coral Gables, Fla.-based Lou Hammond Group public relations agency, speaking on behalf of the cruise line. "There have been no reported incidents of any crime committed against our guests that we have been made aware of while visiting Grand Bahama Island."

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

0
0
0
0
0

Load comments