PHOTO: The Norwegian Pearl, where crew member Jaco Bagan worked. (Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)
Norwegian Cruise Line has cancelled calls to Roatán, Honduras, this week after a crew member was killed during an attempted robbery there on April 6.
“Norwegian Cruise Line is shocked and saddened by the tragic death of a crew member from Norwegian Pearl in Roatán, Honduras,” the company said in a statement to Travel Pulse that was also posted on its Facebook page. “Police reports indicate the crew member was killed during an attempted robbery while in Roatán. Local officials are investigating and have the alleged suspect in custody. In an abundance of caution for our guests and crew, we have cancelled calls to Roatán this week for Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Jewel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the crew member.”
The killing was revealed by maritime attorney Jim Walker on his blog, Cruise Law News, which identified the deceased as Jacob Bagan. The crime raises concerns about the safety of tourists on Roatán, the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras and a popular cruise ship port of call.
The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning about Honduras on Dec. 24. “The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high,” the warning says.
Some believe most of the crime occurs on mainland Honduras and that Roatán and other Bay Islands are more secure. “Most resort areas and tourist destinations have lower levels of crime and violence than other areas of the country, though still high by international standards,” the State Department said. “In 2012, the Government of Honduras increased police presence and established special police forces in areas frequented by tourists, such as the Copan Mayan ruins and Roatán. Tourists traveling with group tours also report fewer criminal incidents.”
That may be changing, as proven by this incident. Walker said the crew member was killed when someone tried to steal his cell phone. “The crew member bled to death on a main street near the port,” Walker wrote.
Carnival Cruise Lines said its security team continues to closely monitor the situation in Roatán. Carnival ships dock at the Mahogany Bay Cruise Center in Roatán, which is managed by Carnival.
Still, the line has started giving passengers informational letters as a result of reports of armed robberies and other street crimes against tourists in Santos Guardiolo, on the east end of Roatán, as well as in Palm Beach in the northeastern section. “The letters advise guests of incidences of crime on the island and offer practical advice and safety tips while visiting Roatán as well as tourist destinations in general,” Carnival said.
For guests who want to explore beyond the Mahogany Bay Cruise Center, Carnival is “strongly encouraging” them to book a shore excursion sold through the ship or to use Mahogany Bay taxis, which are subject to an inspection program for fair pricing and safety practices.