The last time I was on a cruise ship that called at St. Kitts it rained. It was such a deluge that the ship left early and repositioned to nearby Nevis where the weather was a bit drier. Since then I've been back to Nevis, but not St. Kitts and I must admit that I have been looking forward to visiting there next month.
Unfortunately, an attack on cruise passengers by armed robbers last weekend may prompt a change my upcoming itinerary on Seabourn Sojourn. The robbers, who ambushed a tour bus carrying passengers from Celebrity Mercury, blocked a road and boarded the bus when the driver stopped to clear the way. They then held the passengers at gunpoint while they robbed them of money, jewelry, cameras, mobile phones, and other valuable. Thankfully, no one was hurt. However, Carnival Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises canceled port calls at St. Kitts this week.
A statement by St. Kitts police said the robbery was unprecedented. "Last year, over 500,000 cruise passengers safely disembarked in St. Kitts to enjoy the many attractions of our island. 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."
Their commitment, and the outrage of citizens has paid off. Top officials from the St. Kitts Police High Command, The Ministry of National Security, and The Ministry of Tourism & International Transport have revealed the latest developments in the ongoing investigation into the incident. At a press conference, the officials announced that four individuals had been arrested in relation to the incident and that a number of items were taken into police custody. A special investigative task force has been put in place to investigate the incident and increased tactical patrols and uniformed police presence has been established in the tourism-concentrated areas and other key local venues. Further, a comprehensive plan is being put together to help prevent instances of this sort from taking place in the future.
“We hope never to see this type of incident again in our Federation and look forward to working with the police to reinforce strategies and procedures designed to prevent any further occurrences of this nature,” said Senator Ricky Skerritt, Minister of Tourism & International Transport. “While the act was reprehensible, our police, Ministry of National Security and especially the people of St. Kitts & Nevis should be commended for their swift and decisive response to this affront to our nation’s economic security and reputation as a safe and welcoming tourism destination.”
According to Acting Commissioner of Police Stafford Liburd, concerned residents of St. Kitts rose to the occasion after realizing the damage this kind of incident could do to the country’s image and economy and it was the assistance of the local people which was the major factor in the success to date of this investigation. The local outrage as well as the potential impact of the matter on the important cruise industry led local people to flood the police with calls and leads in the first 36 hours following the incident. The information they provided ultimately led to the arrest Tuesday morning of the four persons in connection with the incident. “I was getting so many calls on my cell phone that I had charge my phone several times today,” said Liburd. “We had overwhelming public support on this and it shows the influence of tourism.”
Minister of National Security, Sam Condor, also reported receiving an impressive number of calls from the local community with information on the case following his national media broadcast Monday evening in which he appealed for urgent public support to the Police efforts. The investigation continues to be handled with the utmost urgency by all official organizations involved and no additional cancellations of port calls are anticipated at this time.
Located in the northern Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, St. Kitts offers a diverse tourism product developed from the destination’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and rich history. The island’s stunning variety of tourism attractions include hiking through the tropical rainforest, riding the scenic railway that connects the island’s sugar plantations, visiting the Caribelle Batik factory, touring Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, the only man-made UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Caribbean, and the more traditional vacation pastimes such as watersports, golf, shopping, tennis, dining, gaming at one of St. Kitts’ two casinos, or simply relaxing on one of the island’s sandy beaches.
While I haven't heard one way or another, I sincerely hope Seabourn Sojourn stops there next month as planned. [UPDATE: It will!] For more information about St. Kitts, visit stkittstourism.kn.