July 25, 2012
On Monday, Cruise Critic reported the incident, which took place during Freedom of the Seas' seven-night July 14 sailing.
Royal Caribbean continues to maintain that the crash was a "one-off accident." But the line has suspended the associated tour, a treetop zip line and rope course at Loterie Farm, until the investigation by the local authorities determines the exact cause of the crash, a spokesperson for the line told Cruise Critic.
Several passengers who were on the bus say they already know the cause.
"This was not a traffic accident," said Bob Jacobs in a phone conversation with Cruise Critic, who was on the bus with his children. "It was a function of a very unsafe vehicle being on this steep, down-hill road where it could barely fit, where it had to go into forward and reverse at least three times just to fit onto the small, one-lane road … this could have been completely avoided if Royal Caribbean had used vans."
Another passenger, Matthew Steed, agreed transportation to Loterie Farm should have been conducted using vans and not a bus. "The problem is this excursion is very much a trek to arrive at the destination, one not best suited for a 40+ passenger bus," he wrote in an e-mail.
Royal declined to comment directly on the passenger comments.
Passengers are not the only ones indicating the bus should never have been on the steeply inclined road.
Claudette Carty, a tour guide with Dutch Tours Enterprises N.V., which operates the Loterie Farm shore excursion, told St. Maarten newspaper The Daily Herald that something was wrong with the bus.
"Something was wrong as soon as we turned in through the gate," she told The Daily Herald. "The driver was fighting with the gears and at the same time trying to brake. It all happened so fast between trying to slow down the bus with the gears and brakes, but nothing was holding…"
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor --Photo appears courtesy of Erin Hill.