Cruise Ship Passenger Shot on St. Thomas

Jul 16th, 2010, 11:52 PM
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Cruise Ship Passenger Shot on St. Thomas

While I hate to be an alarmist, I was shocked to read that a sixteen year old girl, who was a passenger on a cruise ship was shot to death on an open air tour bus in the Coki Beach area. She was caught by crossfire from rival gangs. Cruise lines are warning passengers to stay away from that area.

As a many time visitor to that island, I find this extremely scary. More articles cn be found under Virgin Island news.

Any residents information and/or comments would be appreciated.
Dianebridles is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 02:46 AM
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oh my lord this is absolutely horrible. i just got done telling someone on here that the islands were safe to visit. this is going to hurt st. thomas very badly & by extention st. john, and probably the entire caribbean. apparently the shooter has turned himself in but that's not going to stop other idiot teens from thinking they must retaliate, as a local was murdered in the same incident.
at this point all the islands are getting a bad rep regarding crime and they better do something to fix it fast or between the crime issue and failing economy they are going to lose a lot of business. ppl may be willing to deal with crime at home but not on vacation!!
here's the one source piece for those who want to read it:
virginia is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 03:22 AM
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There are no measures for what will happen to the Caribbean if these incidents peak. I for one would leave an I live in the Caribbean, but a lot of people will loose work, etc. My concern is that it seems as though there needs to be greater interest from the governments towards detering this behaviour for their countries sake. Granted a government can no way control every individual but I believe a combination of finding the budget worth while to publicly educate to the benefits of having tourists visit along with the negative effects if tourism were loss would be a start. Don't think it would matter to gangs though, as there mindset warrants being in a gang. The question is how to get these governments attention...
bdshotsauce is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 03:25 AM
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OOPS! I meant *their mindset* warrants being in a gang.
bdshotsauce is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 11:57 AM
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I agree with bdshotsauce. On my visits there, while I have noticed huge differences between the housing of the 'haves' and 'havenots'. being in vacation mode, I never really thought about it until now.

I believe the hotel tax is 10%. At the Marriott with its mega room, and Caneel, with its mega prices, the places I stay, plus the many, many other on site hotels, that amounts to a lot of per room revenue. In addition, the amount of port fees from the huge cruise ships must be huge.

The only school that I observed was on St. John. While outside appearances it seemed modestly OK, it would seem that there should be funds available to make schools real gems, that be a place that kids would want to be. In addition, I have obseved on St Thomas, a true bridge to nowhere. It is an overpass that abruptly ends on the other side of the street with no exit ramps.

I do not go there to be critical, far from it as I love these islands and the people living there. Most seem to be hard working and very plesant to meet.

Perhaps the tourism industry could put pressure on governmental powers.

I am currently booked for a November visit on St. Thomas. If I found for safety reasons to be confined to the hotel, I would find it very boring.

I think I will write a leter to hotel management about my concerns. Perhaps if there is enough communication, it may help.
Dianebridles is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 01:21 PM
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"at this point all the islands are getting a bad rep regarding crime "

St Barts?
J_R_Hartley is offline  
Jul 18th, 2010, 04:40 PM
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I too am concerned as I will soon be on the Carnival Victory with my daughter and her friend. Both girls are 24. I have never been afraid in the Caribbean - except in Belize.
pmuzzy17 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 10:20 AM
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It's incredibly rare that a tourist is hurt or injured in St. Thomas by violence, but it does happen, about once a year or once every other year (as it does in St. John, whcih is considered safer). What concerns me most is the alarmist tone I see in many of these posts and articles. Yes, crime in St. Thomas is up, and this was a passenger from a cruise ship. But this was also a freak, one-time occurrence and really has nothing to do with Coki Beach and its relative safety.

If you exercise reasonable precautions, you can have a safe and crime-free vacation in the Virgin Islands (as anywhere, including Jamaica, which has an even higher crime rate), but one of these rare, sad events can still happen, and there's no way to plan for or protect yourself from it.

In the early 1990s, when a visitor from Utah was stabbed in the NYC subway, there wasn't an outcry that people should avoid and boycott NYC. I've never really understood why people overreact when it's a tragic occurrence in the Caribbean. When there is a murder in Chicago, do you avoid Chicago? When there's a murder or car-jacking in Orlando, do you avoid Orlando?

Lots of places in the Caribbean have growing crime rates, including generally safe places like Anguilla and even St. Barts.
doug_stallings is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 05:11 PM
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your right doug my post does sound a bit alarmist. but i think this incident is different. it is one thing to have your camera stolen or to have someone break into your hotel room or villa and steal, or even assault you as was happening on provo a yr ago. being shot to death while on a daytime excursion by (presumably drug dealing) gang members in combat rises to a different level.
it's not coki beach or coral worlds fault in any way but these are 2 of the biggest tourist attractions on the island and one should be able to presume a certain degree of safety in that area.
i've been on st.t twice. there was a murder on island while i was there the 2nd time, but it was a late night shooting in a bad neighborhood. i did not feel unsafe because of it & have continued to suggest ppl travel there - in fact i was much more upset about the stabbing of a turtle at magens that happened around the same time as the shooting.
well just my opinion. i'd still go back but feel less comfortable suggesting it to others here on fodors.
virginia is offline  
Jul 19th, 2010, 08:09 PM
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Freak accidents do happen. And this sounds like one of them. Not specifically violence against tourists, rather someone in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That said, the Caribbean is NOT Disneyland. People need to realize that. There's a HUGE gap between rich and poor on many (most?) of the islands. I just returned from a fabulous trip 10 days in Jamaica. I had a wonderful time. But it's a bit rough there. It's not a place I'd send unseasoned travelers quite honestly.
suze is online now  
Jul 20th, 2010, 10:35 AM
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I was also shocked and saddened to read about this incident. Having spent time at Coki, it was particularly frightening. And to find that it happened to two innocent people not involved in any way was doubly disturbing.

I do, however, agree with those who have noted that the Caribbean is not exempt from crime - and even violent crime. Like suze, I hesitate to recommend Jamaica any longer to neophytes. The last time we were there, we had to venture out only with a local, and even then missed a place I really wanted to see due to recent criminal issues.

The combination of recession-induced slowing of travel to the region combined with a general increase in crime regionally means we as travelers there need to be more aware of our surroundings.

Will I choose to travel to the region less? No. But I WILL check into the safety of where I am going, and will be choosing destinations I have a higher comfort level with. Crime can happen anywhere and any time, and that is the sad reality of it. But you can take steps to help ensure you are not a victim, and we all have to take the responsibility for that largely upon ourselves.
Diana is offline  
Jul 20th, 2010, 10:52 AM
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Former Virgin Island resident here....2007/2008..Unfortunately,occasional violent crimes are not uncommon on St Thomas, for the most part not directed at tourist..However, St John is about as safe a place you could go..If safety is your concern, I recommend St John as your base..Hopefully the authorities on St Thomas can stop the gang violence Asap..I hate to see this negative publicity for the Islands I love...

For info from a Virgin Island local check out:
virginislandtraveler is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 12:29 PM
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I was at the pool midday at Point Pleasant Resort, across the bay, when the shooting happened. I heard about 20 shots and saw people running and screaming. Two teenaged tourists from Puerto Rico, just off a cruise ship, who were in an open air taxi in the aquarium parking lot next to Coki Beach were shot by random bullets and a young man attending a funeral was shot as part of the gang activity(it was part of drug/gang deal).

Newpapers reports indicated increased police coverage on the beach--I did see police cars roaming around in the area routinely. We drove over to the area the next day --its pretty seedy--and I would NOT recommend people going to Coki Beach. There are so many other great beaches on the island where you won't get hassled by drug dealers. The aquarium next to the beach is probably a safe spot--there IS increased police patrolling as a result. Apparently there have been 44 murders in the last year on the island --very high per capita. But its all drug related stuff. The tourism industry is trying to do damage control with the cruise lines who had stopped sending tours out to the Coki Beach area.

Aside from Coki Beach, I never felt unsafe traveling around the island. We spent a week there and traveled all over the place day and night in a rental car. The people were great, the beaches are gorgeous and the island is amazing.
FMG is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 01:38 PM
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There was a murder of a statesider in St. John a few years ago & nowhere is 100% safe. The government needs to get a grip on this horror but as is typical in many places in the Caribbean, the police, etc. are sometimes related to or are friends with relatives of the bad guys & there's a real problem with witnesses being afraid of retaliation in a small place. They've instituted crime reporting 800 numbers that are totally anonymous but friends & relatives still don't want to turn in "their own."

But something better happen soon. Make it good & safe for the residents & the tourists will be safe, too & this is from someone who lived in the Caribbean since 1982. Crime in the USVI gets reported much more often than on other islands who keep a lid on the bad press. St. Thomas/St. John/St. Croix are gorgeous spots with lots to offer but this has to stop.
Carrybean is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 09:19 AM
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Nice to read your input on this issue Carrybean. I hope all is well on STT with you!
CaribbeanSoul is offline  
Jul 25th, 2010, 05:41 AM
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Even though a good part of these islands' economy depend on tourism, I think sometimes there is resentment from the local population that their jobs are dependent on "rich" Americans who vacation in luxurious resorts when they go home to poverty. I'm not saying crime is aimed at the tourists, I just think that the governments are in a difficult position. Afterall how much of these large hotels' profits are put back into the islands' economy and how much goes back to the corporations that own the hotels. Look at Atlantic City right here in the US. MILLIONS are dropped in the casinos every year and 4 blocks away is urban blight. About 6 weeks ago a tourist in AC was killed and I assure you this incident did not impact AC at all.
debsnj is offline  
Jul 25th, 2010, 07:13 AM
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I don't disagree with the post above, but this particular incident appears to be random. Nothing to do with the dynamics of tourism and local economy. Just wrong place at the wrong time.
suze is online now  
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