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Royal Caribbean cancels Freeport shore excursions after reported attack on two women

13 Feb 2024
Elizabeth Wright

Guests sailing on upcoming Royal Caribbean cruises that visit Grand Bahama Island had their shore excursions cancelled, which comes right after news of two American passengers that were attacked there earlier this month.

Two American passengers disclosed that they were drugged and raped while visiting the Pirate's Cove Resort. Since then two people have been arrested on sexual assault charges.

"Due to a recent incident in Grand Bahama Island, we've made the decision to temporarily suspend select tours. Unfortunately, this includes your Beach Getaway and Lunch" the email to passengers reads. 

"As a result, we've issued a full refund to your original form of payment, which you should see within 14 business days. Some banking institutions may take longer."

"In the meantime, please feel free to visit My Royal Cruise or the Shore Excursions Deck once onboard to review options for your time in port." 

Shore excursion cancellation email

Amber Shearer and Dongayla Dobson, two 31-year-old mothers from Kentucky, were supposedly on the girl's trip of a lifetime. They had saved for months for a Carnival cruise from Jacksonville, Florida, and were enjoying time together on the beach when they were offered a two-for-one drink deal from a resort employee. 

According to a USA TODAY article, Nicholas Gerson, the women's Miami-based attorney, said, "They became inebriated and were both taken away and raped." Both women were unaware of the recently imposed travel warning by the U.S. Department of State and "not aware of any warnings given by Carnival." 

Two individuals, a 54- and 40-year-old man, were arrested on Sunday in relation to the attacks. 

On January 26, the U.S. Department of State issued a level 2 advisory warning in The Bahamas due to crime 

Buildings near Nassau port

According to the country summary, the majority of the crime in The Bahamas occurs in the capital of New Providence, which is where Nassau is located, as well as Grand Bahama Island. 

"In Nassau, practice increased vigilance in the “Over the Hill” area (south of Shirley Street) where gang-on-gang violence has resulted in a high homicide rate primarily affecting the local population. Violent crime, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults, occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas."

"Be vigilant when staying at short-term vacation rental properties where private security companies do not have a presence."

Nassau buildings

The U.S. Embassy issued a security alert a few days prior to the Department of State. They advised that all U.S. citizens should be aware that 18 murders have occurred in Nassau at all hours of the day since the beginning of 2024. 

They claim that the primary motive has been retaliatory gang violence. 

Additionally, the warning states that activities involving commercial recreational watercraft aren't consistently regulated

In November 2023, a ferry filled with passengers en route to Blue Lagoon Island off the coast of Nassau encountered rough seas and began to take on water before capsizing and killing one woman from the United States. Since the boat was near shallow waters, it didn't completely submerge. Independence of the Seas was the only Royal Caribbean ship docked on the day of the incident. 

Royal Caribbean used to offer a variety of excursions to Blue Lagoon, including beach breaks, snorkeling, and dolphin encounters. Since the accident, however, the cruise line has decided to cancel all tours through March 2024 as they continue their investigation. 

Guests with booked tours will automatically receive a full refund back to their original form of payment. Like tours in Grand Bahama Island, these refunds will be processed within 14 business days. 

How to stay safe when visiting The Bahamas (or any port of call)

Whenever you travel, it's imperative that you keep your guard up at all times. While the likelihood of a crime being committed against you is low, it's never impossible. 

When going ashore, you should aim to keep a low profile and be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you happen to be the victim of a robbery, don't physically resist it. 

It is also smart to closely monitor your drinks. If you're able to, you should watch the bartender make it, and if anything seems off, ask someone else to remake it. 

Senor Frogs in Nassau, Bahamas

Rather than venturing off with a random tour operator that you find on the streets, consider booking a tour through Royal Caribbean. 

They work with reputable local operators to ensure that safety is at the forefront of every tour. Even then, however, you should always monitor your surroundings, as was proved during the Blue Lagoon Island incident. 

Elizabeth graduated from New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute with her M.A. in Journalism in May 2023. Growing up, she had the privilege of traveling frequently with her family and fell in love with cruising after sailing on the Oasis of the Seas her freshman year of high school. She wanted to pursue a career that highlighted her passion for travel and strengths as a writer. 

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