Nevis Turns Away Windjammer's Polynesia

March 25, 2005
In what qualifies as 2005's first genuinely bizarre cruise incident, passengers on Windjammer's Polynesia were refused admittance to the island of Nevis because they were ... nude.

Indeed, according to a news story in the Miami Herald, port, security and customs officials boarded the ship -- chartered by Miami-based Source Events for Gay Naturists International as an all-gay, clothing optional cruise -- for a routine clearance procedure, and noticed most of the passengers were walking around, well, bare-bottomed. Despite assurances from the captain that the passengers would wear clothes on shore, entry was refused -- and the ship wasn't even allowed to let passengers swim in Nevis waters while the issue was debated.

After five hours at anchor, the ship departed. The itinerary for the chartered cruise, a roundtrip from St. Maarten, includes calls as well at Anguilla, St. Kitts, St. Barth's and Tintamarre.

The folks in Nevis seemed stung by allegations that they'd turned away the ship because folks onboard were gay or lesbian and issued a statement yesterday denying that fact. Said Malcolm Guishard, Nevis' minister of tourism, "This decision was made, very simply, because our authorities were not given reasonable assurance that these passengers, who are all members of a clothing-optional group known as Gay Naturists International, would respect our constitutional laws and standards of public decency here in the Federation."

Guishard adds, in a manner that's particularly emphatic for a statement, that "St. Kitts and Nevis has always extended open arms to visitors from all walks of life as long as they respect our rule of law. The decision to deny access to our beautiful island had nothing to do with individual lifestyle choices. It had everything to do with individual behavior and conduct which would be inconsistent with the law and the way of life on St. Kitts and Nevis. We sincerely regret that this situation has been distorted to the point that our traditional open minded outlook on tourism is in question. We continue to welcome all visitors to the island who wish to enjoy our beaches, restaurants, hotels, sporting events and sightseeing activities -- just as long as they remain fully clothed and respectful of the laws here in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis."

It's important to note (again) that the 430-ton, 122-passenger Polynesia, part of Windjammer's fleet of sailing vessels, was chartered out to the aforementioned Gay Naturists International. As such, this voyage was not part of Windjammer's regular sailing schedule.