ALLEGATIONS of sexual assault remain the most reported criminal activity on board cruise ships making calls to the United States, according to year-end statistics.
For the past three years, alleged incidents of sexual assault represented more than 60 percent of criminal activity reported by vessels under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA).
This trend follows for major cruise lines with routes to The Bahamas, like Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean.
In 2017, 76 percent of reported crimes on board Carnival vessels were for sexual assault; as was 68 percent of crime reported on board Royal Caribbean vessels.
Statistics for 2018 are not complete; however, figures up to September 30, 2018 indicate criminal activity is on pace with 2017.
Up to September 30, there were 86 incidents reported - 60 of which were for sexual assault.
There was the same number of sexual assault incidents reported for that time period in 2017, out of 85 incidents. There was a total of 106 incidents reported for 2017.
In 2016, officials recorded 92 incidents with 62 of them for sexual assault.
Criminal activity statistics for cruise ships making stops in the United States has continued to climb since reporting requirements were changed in 2016 - making it mandatory to include all incidents of missing persons and alleged crime.
Prior to this, only incidents that were no longer under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation were compiled and released through the US Transport Department.
In 2015, there was a total of 28 reported incidents - 13 of which were for sexual assault.
This comes as The Bahamas continues to manage the impact of crime warnings from the United States and Canada on its tourism product.
Last week, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar confirmed Royal Caribbean Cruise Line had agreed to withdraw a travel advisory warning passengers about the Arawak Cay Fish Fry as a “particular area of concern” for crime.
The Royal Caribbean advisory was one part of a double blow for the Fish Fry, as the same language was also repeated in the Canadian government’s revised December 20, 2018 travel advisory to its citizens.
Royal Caribbean is 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.
The cruise line, Mr D’Aguilar said, has replaced the advisory with a generalised warning to Royal Caribbean passengers that does not mention Nassau by name and could be taken as referring to any of its ports of call.
“Effective immediately, the travel advisory letter to all Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines guests will be replaced with the following text in the Cruise Compass newsletter,” the cruise line wrote to Mr D’Aguilar, referring to language that encouraged passengers to “use the same common sense you would in any major city.”
Referring passengers to US and other government websites if they needed more information, Royal Caribbean added: “We will begin with replacing the letters in all Royal Caribbean International ships calling on The Bahamas, and review for the remainder of the global fleet beginning early 2019.”