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Cruise Line: Fish Fry ‘Crime Concern’ Area

The Fish Fry at Arawak Cay.

The Fish Fry at Arawak Cay.

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

A major cruise line yesterday “blindsided” a Cabinet minister by warning its passengers that the Arawak Cay Fish Fry was a “particular area of concern” for crime.

Dionisio D’Aguilar, pictured, minister of tourism and aviation, told Tribune Business that The Bahamas probably needs to create “a working group forum” to address the cruise industry’s crime concerns after a Royal Caribbean captain warned his passengers “that Nassau has been experiencing an increase in crime”.

Captain Srecko Ban, in a letter to Anthem of the Seas passengers that was dated yesterday, wrote: “We feel it is important to make our guests aware that Nassau has been experiencing an increase in crime. Non-violent crimes, such as theft of personal items, are the most common types of crimes being committed.”

The Royal Caribbean captain’s letter, which was published on a well-known cruise industry website, conceded that “thousands of visitors routinely travel to Nassau without incident” before offering personal safety tips.

These included leaving “valuables and irreplaceable items” in the cabin safe; avoiding expensive jewellery and flashing cash; and taking only the cash and credit cards that are required.

However, Captain Ban then added: “We recommend guests not venture too far from tourist areas and consider participating in an organised tour. Particular areas of concern include the Sand Trap, the Fish Fry and other areas of Nassau referred to as ‘Over-the-Hill’ by locals, which should be avoided after sunset.”

The Royal Caribbean letter appears to mirror, and regurgitate, the concerns outlined in the US State Department’s January 2018 travel advisory on The Bahamas, which also urged American visitors to stay clear of the Arawak Cay Fish Fry - a major hub where tourists can experience Bahamian culture and cuisine.

That warning provoked a major outcry from Arawak Cay vendors and the Association that represents them, which branded it unjustified and a major threat to their business livelihoods because it represented a potential deterrent to visiting tourists.

The Royal Caribbean letter is likely to spark similar push back, since it potentially costs vendors thousands of dollars in cruise line spending, with the episode illustrating the continued negative impact that the US advisory is having.

The timing of the Anthem of the Seas letter could also not be worse from the perspective of downtown Nassau retailers, restaurants and others who rely on the cruise industry for a living, as it coincides with the key after-Christmas shopping period. It also highlights why many passengers may decline to leave their vessel when it is docked in Nassau.

The warning’s issuance also comes with Royal Caribbean being one of four cruise lines involved in the bidding to take over management/operations at Nassau’s cruise port, the industry-grouping having partnered with Cruise Ports International - the Bahamian group formerly known as Cultural Village (Bahamas), headed by ex-Family Guardian president Gerald Strachan.

Mr D’Aguilar, when contacted by Tribune Business yesterday, said that while he “obviously disagrees” with Royal Caribbean’s warning about the Arawak Cay Fish Fry the rest of the letter’s contents were “not particularly troubling”.

Suggesting that it largely amounted to the sort of “safety tips” issued to visitors to any world city, the Minister nevertheless expressed displeasure about not previously being informed about the cruise line’s advisory and questioned whether Captain Ban had ever visited the Fish Fry or knew where it was located.

“I don’t like to be blindsided by these reports and letters,” Mr D’Aguilar said. “I’m sure he [Captain Ban] has never been to the Fish Fry and does not know where it is, but he is opining on the face of it, which is why it is important that the Ministry of Tourism create a forum to address these concerns, and some of these myths that have grown up over the years and become embedded in their DNA.

“I haven’t heard about any complaints, I’ve not heard of any issues with the Fish Fry. I hate to be blindsided by these reports that are not brought to our attention. The captain of this boat says the Fish Fry is unsafe. I don’t know what he apparently knows.”

Mr D’Aguilar said his ministry was constantly speaking to senior cruise industry executives, adding that the concerns raised in the Royal Caribbean letter had “never been once mentioned” in conversation with them.

But, as a result of the Anthem of the Seas letter, he added that the Ministry of Tourism may now have to examine how it can reach out to cruise ship directors, pursers and captains given that they were responsible for putting out advisories to thousands of The Bahamas’ visitors.

“It’s very difficult to meet with people on the front line of these cruise companies,” Mr D’Aguilar told Tribune Business. “It’s the captain, the cruise director who we need to convince that Nassau is safe.

“The senior executives say all the right things to us, but the reality on the ground is the front line people are not preaching from the same hymn sheet. We need to reach out to those people on the front line telling passengers these concerns

“There are 10,000 passengers that come to Nassau on any given day, and I’m sure 9,999 of them don’t have a problem,” Mr D’Aguilar continued. “But, of course, we focus on the one.

“I don’t know of any major or significant crime happening to a cruise passenger in quite some time. I don’t know about petty crime, but in my humble opinion Nassau is as safe as any other city, and the cruise companies are putting out this generic warning for Nassau as cover in the odd chance it does happen.”

The Minister said Nassau was “as safe as any American city” for visitors, and suggested The Bahamas would have to assemble a working group to address the cruise industry’s concerns in much the same way it dealt with the US Embassy’s fears on the same topic.

He acknowledged, though, that The Bahamas could help itself by having a greater police presence on the ground in downtown Nassau and other tourist areas to provide greater reassurance to visitors and Bahamians alike.

“If I had to give some constructive criticism, I would say provide a greater police presence on the ground in the city of Nassau,” Mr D’Aguilar said. “There’s room to put boots on the ground to give people sufficient comfort that they feel safe.

“I don’t know if there’s resources available, but we’ve been asking for a presence for some time - persons on Prince George Wharf, Junkanoo Beach, downtown. The crime is so miniscule that police think: ‘What’s the point?’, but it’s a small price to pay based on the number of cruise passengers that come to our country every day.”

While admitting that this point was controversial, Mr D’Aguilar said constant media coverage of murder and mayhem away from the tourist areas, and which was not impacting visitors, was also threatening to undermine perceptions of The Bahamas.

Comments

BoopaDoop 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't like to see tourists being harassed for hair braiding, jet ski, fresh Cuban cigars (in a Ziploc bag), etc.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 9 months, 3 weeks ago

The Minister said Nassau was “as safe as any American city” for visitors, and suggested The Bahamas would have to assemble a working group to address the cruise industry’s concerns in much the same way it dealt with the US Embassy’s fears on the same topic.

The constantly yapping darling little white haired poodle just fails to admit that most Bahamian families (like most illegal Haitian aliens) would seriously consider relocating from crime-ridden Nassau to an American city if they had the financial means to do so. Even Chicago is safer than Nassau today in terms of per capita murders, home invasions, rapes, sexual assaults, etc. Unlike most of us, the yappity yap yap little poodle can afford to live in a heavily guarded much safer neighbourhood. LMAO

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birdiestrachan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

doc said the Bahamas is corrupt. then doc said there is no fear of crime. speak doc what do you say, The peoples time voters would like to hear from you.

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DDK 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Is it my imagination or do the cabinet ministers all seem to be wearing blinders like the surrey horses?

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sheeprunner12 9 months, 3 weeks ago

These mega cruiseship captains have no reason to be overly nice to Arawak Cay ...... they have enough entertainment services to sell on the ship to make money for themselves.

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Dawes 9 months, 3 weeks ago

And they considering giving the port to these same cruise ships? You can't make this up.

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TalRussell 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, or no, ma comrades, if cruise captains can regurgitate this way, even before Dionisio James, does evict all the natives out and away from cruise ships port zone - imagine what kinds regurgitation goin take place after Imperial reds sign away all sovereignty access rights to PeoplesPublic port zone areas. Yes, or no?

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joeblow 9 months, 3 weeks ago

The fish fry is a dump, what makes it worse is the lack of common courtesy people show to each other and our guests! Its hard to imagine things will improve anytime soon!

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TalRussell 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, or no, few comrades today, not more than couple handfuls - have firsthand knowledge the true story about how the "mobsters and gangsters" operating as a paint company - inspired and created a man-made island, called Kelly Island. Yes, or no?

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bogart 9 months, 3 weeks ago

.DA SHIPS CAPTAIN IS DOING HIS JOB ......TO PROTECT ERRY LAST ONE BOARD HIS SHIP, SEE DAT WELL FED, HAVE ELECTRICITY..TAKEN CARE PROPERLY......VALUE FOR MONEY....DAT THE PASSANGERS WILL KEEP TRAVELLING CAUSE THE CAPTAIN LOOKS OUT FOR THEIR COMFORT AN WELL BEING......

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John 9 months, 3 weeks ago

The nightlife at the Fish Fry May be different but during the day it’s a very passive and relaxing and regulated environment. Most of the Bahamians who are there during the day are the truck drivers, customs brokers and officers and persons doing imports on Arawak Cay so they are mostly looking for lunch. There are peddlers on the Cay but they don’t appear aggressive or harassing. In fact most tourists seem to enjoy the interaction with them. And most of the tourists are brought there by taxis where the drivers wait on them while they eat of have a few drinks, then return them to their ships. So the warning may be grossly over etched, at least for daytime visits.

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CatIslandBoy 9 months, 3 weeks ago

This warning from this ship's Captain is totally unnecessary, and out of order, other than to protect the Cruise Ship's parent company from the 1% chance that something may happen to one of their passengers while visiting Nassau.

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joeblow 9 months, 3 weeks ago

... and that 1% could cost them millions, don't you think they have a right to cover themselves?

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bogart 9 months, 3 weeks ago

WHAT SEEMS TO BE GOING ON .....IS THAT THERE MAY BE CASES OF.....THEFT.....Crime.....WHERE IT IS NOT REPORTED TO THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES.....BUT ...IS TOLD BACK ON THE SHIP.........Actually heard the story sip sip from a traveller returning to the Bahamas of an alleged theft on Cable Beach and an incident on PI after visiting a Vancouver Church years ago that seems not to have been reported or made it publictly.....true there may be no crimes reported....but that doesnt mean they dont happens and only gets retold on board the ship....aint nothing new......how many Bahamians demselves dont bother to reports anyting to the Police...but tells they friends an family.....????

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TalRussell 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, or no ma comrades, how close to commercial Shantytown does The Fish Fry come.... wasn't some operators long payment delinquent in their rents/payments to PeoplesPublicPurse. Yes, or no?

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SP 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Arawak Cay Fish Fry - a major hub where tourists can experience what its like to interact with Haitians!

It is somewhat difficult to find Bahamian vendors at Arawak Cay fish fry. Haitian Creole is the predominant language spoken among vendors so exactly what culture is the tourist experiencing?

I don't know if the Captain of the ship has genuine reasons for warning his passengers to avoid Arawak Cay, however, personally I avoid Arawak Cay like the plague. If on the odd occasion someone wants conch salad or local food, there very few options to choose from without being bombarded with Creole.

What happened to all the "talk" about getting rid of the Haitian influence at Arawak Cay?

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TheMadHatter 9 months, 3 weeks ago

There is nothing Bahamians (by vast majority) love more than Haitians. They patronize and frequent their businesses. Food, clothing, household items, you name it. Laborers, delivery drivers, gardeners, maids, you name it. All Haitian. The Fish Fry, the Straw Market, all kinda Haitian. They marrying them up every weekend.

If a Bahamian has a dollar in his pocket, he is very very likely to give it to a Haitian in preference to a Bahamian any day of the week. A job? Don't even apply if you are a Bahamian - waste of ink.

I don't see anything wrong with this. It is democracy in action. It's a choice and people should be able to make free choices and pick and choose.

Could the Defense Force start making weekly trips to Haiti in January and throughout the new year and start bringing Haitians here by the thousands each month and Government could give them spanking new passports as they walk off the dock? That would be good. It would make everyone happy.

It's a new near. Let's do this !!!! More Haitians. The more the merrier.

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John 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Y’all Russell must you always demonstrate total ignorance or be anti-Bahamian? In every comment you make. Do you know the history of the Fish Fry, even before Hubert Ingraham got involved. Working fishermen/ vendors started the ‘Fry’ and grew it into what it is. Why do you insist on butchering everything Bahamian and butchering English?

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