| Date Published: November 15, 2010 |
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|Update: 17 Celebrity Cruises Passengers Robbed at Gunpoint in St. Kitts|
(1 p.m. EST) -- Seventeen Celebrity Mercury passengers on a tour bus in St. Kitts were robbed at gunpoint on Sunday, Celebrity Cruises has confirmed.
In a statement, the line said that there were 16 adult passengers and one child on the tour. Fortunately, no one was physically harmed. All of the passengers are safely back on the ship and have been offered support by the guest care team onboard.
A police report stated that the masked gunmen escaped with the cruisers' jewelry, cameras and money.
At the time of the robbery, the passengers were traveling to the Brimstone Hill Fortress, a well-visited UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Southern Caribbean island. A press person providing information on behalf of St. Kitts tourism told Cruise Critic that the bandits "put a tree across the road to block the bus." When the bus driver got out to move the tree, two men emerged from bushes and robbed the tourists.
The robbers ran off into the woods, and a manhunt is underway.
Celebrity has confirmed that the passengers were on a ship-sponsored shore tour called "Essential St. Kitts" and that the excursion has been canceled indefinitely, pending the outcome of the investigation. Celebrity Summit is visiting St. Kitts today, and the line will not be bypassing any calls to the port.
"We will work closely with law enforcement and government officials, which are taking steps to ensure the safety of everyone in St. Kitts, including visitors," Celebrity said in a statement. Celebrity spokesperson Cynthia Martinez told Cruise Critic that, "We have received notification that the Police High Command in St. Kitts has increased patrols both foot and mobile in all areas that are frequented by tourists. These include Black Rock, Brimestone Hill, Caribelle Batik and surroundings, Scenic Railway, Bsseterre and the beaches in Frigate Bay."
A police statement called the crime against tourists unprecedented. "Last year, over five hundred thousand cruise passengers safely disembarked in St. Kitts to enjoy the many attractions of our island," it read. "We deeply regret any type of incident that might tarnish our visitors' experience. As law enforcement authorities, we are committed to root out and expose the persons responsible." A spokesperson from the police department could not be reached for comment after several attempts by phone and e-mail.
Another report from local media outlet SKNVibes claims that a local taxi operator said there is a serious need boosted for improved security in certain areas on the island during the tourist seasons.
Celebrity Mercury is in the midst of a 12-night Caribbean cruise out of Baltimore.
We'll keep you posted.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor
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