Nassau, capital of The Bahamas, has spent millions of dollars dredging its harbour and building new port facilities so it can handle Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world.
So a recent spate of armed attacks on visiting cruise ship passengers, must have sent a shudder of panic through the local authorities and Oasis’s owners, Royal Caribbean.
The ship’s maiden call on Friday went ahead as planned, but passengers were warned of the risks before going ashore. As Thea Rutherford reports in the Nassau Guardian, the 6,000 passengers were advised to be “mindful of their personal safety” during their time on the island.
The warning was printed in Cruise Compass, the daily newsletter provided for each cabin on the 225,000-ton ship.
“Nassau is one of the most beautiful cities, and the residents are warm and welcoming,” it said. “However, recently Nassau has experienced an increase in crime. Visitors to Nassau, like visitors to all large cities in the world today, need to be mindful of their personal safety.”
During a ceremony in which the ship’s captain was presented with a plaque to commemorate the visit, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said: “I assure Royal Caribbean and, indeed, all cruise lines calling at Nassau, that the government takes seriously its obligation to provide a safe environment in our city.”
“We want every visitor to our country to feel good about being here. We seek to make visitors’ stay safe and enjoyable so that they look forward not only to returning but also to sending their friends.”
A man has appeared in court accused of robbing 18 cruise passengers at gunpoint in November and there have been 79 murders in The Bahamas this year.
Tourism Director General Vernice Walkine said, “It’s troubling to all of us. We’re continuing to talk about how we can together try to mitigate those kinds of incidents and so we continue to collaborate with all of the cruise lines, talk through what measures we can take to ensure that their passengers, our visitors, continue to be safe in The Bahamas.”
Noting that millions of cruise ship passengers enjoyed safe visits to the country each year, she said, “We continue the quest to make sure that they all have a safe and enjoyable time… Everybody’s understandably concerned and committed to ensuring that we work very hard to prevent those kinds of incidents from recurring.”