Seventeen Carnival Conquest cruise passengers were robbed by two men in Jamaica's Montego Bay this past Wednesday. According to news reports, the men were armed; after demanding money from the group, they proceeded to search their pockets for cash, passports, ID's, cameras and other valuables.
Nobody was injured in the June 13 robbery; according to an official statement from Carnival, appropriate law enforcement authorities were notified and many of the stolen items were recovered -- and returned to the guests involved. Carnival also made a counselor available onboard to assist victims and their families.
What makes this incident particularly scary is that the passengers were not exploring on their own at the time but on a Carnival-sponsored shore excursion. The Lethe Village Tour involves a nine-mile drive by bus from Montego Bay to the country village of Lethe in Hanover, where a tractor-drawn jitney shuttles guests around the village, a private garden and banana plantation.
"I am one of the 17," Cruise Critic member bluebonnet posts on the Carnival forum. "It was myself, my mom and two daughters 12 and 24 on this Carnival-sponsored tour to the Lethe Village. It was a fabulous tour up to the point of gunpoint. We had been turned over to an elderly driver of the tractor pulled open air like trolley called a jitney. We had just come from the banana plantation and were headed to listen to some school age children sing for us.
"Two young males came out from bushes one was carrying a shoe box and pulled out his gun, the other had a machete and gun. The one that did all the [talking] was next to me most of the time. I was told I would be killed if I did not give him everything, as was everyone else. I can describe how scared everyone was, especially the children. The youngest child on the tour was begging for her life ... not something you experience everyday and most not in their lifetime!" To read the rest of her story, click here.
The cruise line has suspended the sale of this particular excursion for the time being though no upcoming calls have been canceled (earlier this year, Carnival Liberty passengers were held up at gunpoint in Limon, which is still a port of call on Carnival itineraries); we'll keep you posted.
The ship was in Montego Bay on a weeklong Western Caribbean cruise that departed Galveston June 10. Cruise Critic member Oakbend, just back from this sailing, posts on the Carnival forum: "I talked to four of the people who were robbed at gunpoint and machetes in Jamaica on Wednesday! Some women were roughed up and one had a camera cut off her neck with a machete when she did not hand it over to the two robbers! Four children under the age of 12 were hysterical...."
"I will try to avoid stops in Jamaica if I can," writes jpg1747. "If I can't I will treat it as a sea day. I was in Ocho Rios once and while the falls/rum factory tour was nice, I was very uncomfortable in the shopping area even though I was with a large group. I will not go back." On the other hand: "I have been to Jamaica six or seven times on the ships and have never had a problem," cruisingator2 adds. "It is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. Crime happens everywhere."
One of two men suspected to be involved was killed in an alleged shootout with police last night, according to the Jamaica Observer; the police are still searching for the accomplice. Carnival Conquest will call at Montego Bay next on Wednesday, June 20.
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--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor
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Carnival Cruisers Robbed in Montego Bay
June 18, 2007