You can read all the online articles you want about the crime and violence in popular ports of call such as St. Thomas and Jamaica, but I’m here to remind you that St. Thomas for one is actually part of America. That means it’s no more dangerous than, say, Camden, New Jersey.
But just because some ports have dangerous areas doesn’t mean anything’s going to happen to you. Sure, you might get shot or stabbed at an ATM but at least you’ll have pretty coconut trees to look up at while you’re lying on the ground bleeding to death.
Jamaica, coincidentally, is where Angela Basset filmed the movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” I can’t remember exactly how Stella got her groove back, but I can tell you how she lost it: Stella left her groove in the trunk of a rental car in Montego Bay and that groove got jacked, Jack.
I wasn’t prepared for how filthy Jamaica is, either. Litter everywhere. Then again, with as much pot that’s smoked in that country, I guess it shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see thousands of candy wrappers blowing in the wind. If you ask me, we should give our ship’s entire Housekeeping Department the morning off in Montego Bay. They’d have that whole city spic and span in three hours and still be back in time to clean up after you messy bastards before lunch.
All jokes aside, if you go exploring in Caribbean ports make sure you travel with a large group of other tourists. You ‘ll fell a lot less frightened and intimidated if you’re not the only person being robbed at gunpoint.
Most islanders will bristle at American travel advisories. They’ll ask how we can call their port cities dangerous when America has Cleveland and Detroit. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I drop two grand on a seven-day cruise on Lake Erie.
The other problem with crime in the Caribbean is that criminals are rarely caught. It’s easier to catch Ebola than a purse snatcher. There was more justice in 1964 Selma than in modern day Honduras, for example. Of the last 50 Americans killed in Honduras, the local police have solved just 2 cases. Their top detectives determined that one victim was killed by a murderer and the other was murdered by a killer.
Because a forewarned traveler is a safe traveler, here's...
The Fun Dude’s Top Ten List of Ports to Watch Your Ass In:
- St. Lucia: Armed robberies are so common on this island that a local tour company offers a shore excursion where you can ride around the city in a double-decker bus and watch actual crimes in progress, giving new meaning to the phrase, “mugging for the camera.”
- El Salvador: El Salvador has one of the highest murder rates in the world. But then again, you can get a kick-ass mango daiquiri for dirt cheap. So don’t let anybody scare you out of getting your drink on.
- United States Virgin Islands (USVI):The U.S. Virgin islands are filled with so many guns, drugs, robberies, that most Americans should feel right at home.
- Antigua: Although Antigua may seem like a tropical paradise, it’s seen more than its share of tragedies. For example, Justin Bieber vacationed there once and nothing happened to him.
- St. Kitts: James Bond refuses to go there anymore ever since he walked outside his hotel and found his Aston Martin up on blocks.
- Mexico: Kidnappings and be-headings don’t usually happen in the tourist areas, which makes seeing one at the Hard Rock Café in Acapulco that much more special.
- Guatemala: Guatemala is not a place where you should think of going for a leisurely stroll through the back streets. You’d be better off rollerblading through South Central Los Angeles.
- Venezuela: Venezuela also has one of the highest murder rates. One American cruise passenger was killed simply for wearing a fanny pack. (So at least this guy had it coming.)
- Honduras: Like many other Caribbean islands, the police are either corrupt or incompetent. So this is where big city police departments from the States come down every spring to scout new recruits.
- Bahamas: The U.S. State Department has issued numerous crime warnings for the Bahamas. The second you step off the cruise ship you're likely to be offered drugs. Fortunately, those drugs will most likely be Lipitor and Viagra so at least Bahamian drug dealers know their market.
Minimizing Your Risks
Here are some safety measures you can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim while on vacation:
- Travel in groups of two or more. Never get into a taxi with a passenger already inside, even when offered a chance to split the fare. The driver and the "passenger" may be in cahoots. (Guys, "cahoots" is a variety of Capri pants.)
- Keep a low profile. You can achieve this by either dressing inconspicuously or by signing up for a My Space account.
- Do not wear a fanny pack (especially in Venezuela). If you don’t wind up being robbed of your money, you’ll be robbed of your dignity.
- Never put valuable items in a backpack, unless you're a man and it’s a Hello Kitty backpack, in which case your assailants will be too busy laughing to actually rob you.
- Moreover, men, never carry your billfold in your back pocket. Samuel L. Jackson isn’t the only person who wants to know what’s in your wallet. I recommend a trick novelty wallet that shoots out a fake rubber serpent. That way, if Samuel L. Jackson himself ever asks you what’s in your wallet you can open it in his face and shout, “Mother-@#$-ing snakes--that’s what, beeotch!”
- If you’re a woman, don’t carry your purse over your shoulder; carry it across your chest. This will cause your would-be purse snatcher to focus on your breasts instead of your purse.
- Money belts are for amateurs. Nothing says “easy mark” to a pickpocket like watching somebody take their shirt off to buy a Snickers bar at a newsstand.
- Take just one or two credit cards and a modicum of cash ashore with you in order to minimize your losses in case a thief takes a fancy to you. Better yet, max them all out at home, before you leave on your cruise.
- Unless absolutely unavoidable, never go ashore with your actual passport; bring a photocopy of the data pages. If Guest Services won’t let you use the photo copier on the ship, you can use one at the local police station in port when you go there to report your stolen wallet.
- Which reminds me: Carry a "mugger's wallet." This is a cheap wallet with a small amount of cash that you'll find in your pocket after realizing that you gave the mugger your actual wallet by mistake.
- Leave your cell phone in your cabin. Expensive smartphones, such as an I-Phone or Galaxy, are the most common items stolen from cruise-ship passengers. If you need to make a call, you can always steal a phone from a fellow tourist.
- Most important—try to stay sober. The drunker you are, the more likely ransom-hungry kidnappers are to mistake you for Lindsay Lohan.
Although I do want you to think a little before gallivanting around a Third-World country with a fancy camera around your neck, I don't mean to scare you into canceling your cruise. As I made clear at the start of this essay, traveling to the Caribbean isn’t any more dangerous than biking through Baltimore.
So if you exercise caution, stay aware of your surroundings, and don’t venture too far off the beaten path, you’ll be able to party your ass off without losing it or getting it kicked.
Stay safe and have fun, dude!