By RICARDO WELLS
THE Bahamas’ tourism image has come under further international scrutiny after a Yahoo Travel article this week listed the country’s major cruise ports among its “Worst Caribbean Cruise Ports of Call”.
Freeport and Nassau were unfavourably compared with ports in Belize, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Jamaica. The article also noted that the Bahamas has been placed under crime warnings from the United States’ State Department this year due to the frequency of armed robberies, kidnappings and rapes, particularly in New Providence.
The article stated: “According to a recent security report from the US Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the weapon of choice on Grand Bahama Island is a machete. In the port of Freeport the problems also include lack of infrastructure. Granted, there is a casino, a straw market and a resort with an adequate beach.”
An unnamed cruise critic was quoted regarding Grand Bahama: “This is a shipping port. There is nothing there but a Senor Frogs and a few overpriced shops.”
In November, a report by the US Embassy advised US citizens living or travelling to the Bahamas to be on heightened alert to avoid being victims of crime, claiming that there was an increase of crime in areas where US citizens live and frequent.
That report added criminals are becoming bolder in their actions, referring to an incident in mid-October in which two men armed with handguns robbed customers waiting in the drive-thru line at a local restaurant.
The article, by Melinda Crow, was met with mixed reviews, however. A number of readers left comments on the web page that could be perceived as supportive, while others spoke up defending the Bahamas.
“Margot K” said: “So unfair to Bahamas, Belize and Jamaica!” and added impromptu travel tips. “In Bahama, head straight to Greycliffe (sic) Inn for lunch, check out the cigar-rolling and third largest wine-cellar and visit the Art Gallery of the Bahamas, an overlooked gem.”
Another reader said: “Terrible article! Very unfair about Freeport.”
Maritime lawyer, Jim Walker, referencing the Yahoo article on his Cruise Law website, stated: “There’s no question that the Caribbean has some of the poorest and most dangerous ports of call in the world. There are more and more, new, and bigger and bigger cruise ships coming on line each year.
“The Caribbean is already crowded with ships,” he said. “The cruise lines are left to market itineraries with ports which a prudent family would otherwise avoid.”