A recent surge of tourist muggings in Nassau has propelled major cruise lines to curb landside excursions in this Bahamian capital, long a prime port for Florida-based cruise itineraries.
Just in November, on the same day, two groups of passengers from Disney Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean were held up at gunpoint while touring a popular eco-park near Nassau. Their tour guide was tied up, a woman was hit in the face with the butt of a gun, and the visitors were relieved of their cameras, watches, purses, jewellery, anything of value. The previous month, 11 Carnival Cruise passengers were robbed near the Queen’s Staircase, one of Nassau’s most popular attractions. In one of the more brazen attacks, a Canadian tourist was recently mugged while walking along Bay Street, Nassau’s main thoroughfare, close to the cruise line terminals. Police records show that in one day alone, 21 people were victims of aggravated theft, each in busy tourist areas. Local news media also report that tourist-related robberies are up some 25 per cent.
So should you have concerns about a cruise stop in Nassau? I have been travelling to this city and to other Bahamian islands for many years and I don’t intend to stop. But, like any other destination with a lot of tourist activity, visiting Nassau demands caution and common sense. The rule I follow is: If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t take it along.
But one thing you should do is check your travel insurance policy’s fine print to see if you are covered for losses due to robberies. Generally, if you are injured and need medical care, you will be covered for any emergencies arising out of the attack—so long as you were not involved in criminal activities yourself, such as negotiating a small drug deal, or helping one of the muggers escape out of a sense of misguided compassion. As for stolen high-end goods like a Rolex, or camera, or expensive jewellery (which you should not be taking ashore anyway), they will likely not be covered by your baggage insurance—which usually has quite modest limitations per item and per bag. The bottom line is that if you plan to go ashore anywhere—not just Nassau or Mexico—read the fine print in your travel insurance policy and don’t hesitate to call your insurer (your agent may not always know the right answers) and ask for specific coverage and exclusion details. Policies differ on this point. It’s up to you to know what you’re buying.
To date, Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian cruise lines have put some limits on landside excursions, though none have threatened to avoid Nassau altogether. The cruise industry brings some $3.5 billion to the Bahamas each year.