On Cruise Critic's boards, a thread called "Who Thinks Carnival Should Dump Costa Rica?" was prescient. ABC News this morning told viewers that Carnival has now replaced all port calls in Limon with a stop in Honduras. The locale in Honduras was unidentified but is most likely the island of Roatan.
Carnival has not immediately responded to a request for confirmation.
As Cruise Critic (and just about every other media outlet in the world) reported yesterday, a dozen passengers from Carnival Liberty, docked at Limon, on Costa Rica's east coast, had been taking a tour of the area when three young men, one armed with a gun and another with a knife, targeted the group. A scuffle ensued and a 70-year-old passenger, a former Marine, subdued the gunman by putting him in a headlock; ultimately the 20-year-old burglar's neck was broken. The attacker's accomplices ran away.
According to an AP report, the passengers put the injured man into their tour bus and took him to the hospital; he later died. The passengers were then interrogated by police before being permitted to return to the ship, acknowledging that the Marine was acting in self defense. Carnival Liberty sailed away that evening. The ship will return to Ft. Lauderdale as scheduled tomorrow (Sunday).
That this incident prompted Carnival to cancel calls by all ships in the fleet at Limon is no surprise to members of Cruise Critic's boards who've engaged in debate about the port change.
"In Costa Rica we had a wonderful time," writes RU Cruzin. "We walked all over town, sat in a local bar and talked with a man who kept buying us beers. We played street soccer for at least an hour with four little boys, while their mothers watched ... and undoubtedly laughed at how ridiculous we looked.
"I don't think I'm tempting fate. I have a genuine concern, and interest in the people, not just the tourist attractions. Maybe we have been lucky, but I truly believe that there are way more good people on this earth than there are bad. We hear so much about the bad that we are afraid to open ourselves to the experiences that are waiting to change our perception."
Many others echoed RU Cruzin's sentiments. PaulMedik, in particular, captured the general tone of the travelers responding. "Costa Rica didn't seem to be as dangerous as many other ports I've been to. I saw the greatest potential for problems in Panama and more armed locals in Jamaica. Miami is likely more dangerous than all three combined, and the danger there can come from any direction."
Adds PaulMedik, "We can't go through life avoiding areas that are potentially dangerous; we just have to be aware of what potential exists and alert for any signs that danger is imminent.
"If anyone really should learn a lesson from this week's 'violence' in Costa Rica, it is the thugs who would do harm to apparently helpless tourists. As the Costa Rican thugs learned, appearances can be deceiving!"
Even Cruise Critic's own profile of the port of Limon warned travelers to beware. "It is not crime-free, though, so it still pays to take care in its towns and streets."
It's quite possible that other cruise lines will follow suit and cancel calls at Limon; we'll keep you posted.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor