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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The US State Department Continues Travel Advisory for Certain Areas of Jamaica and the Caribbean

Should you travel to Jamaica on a Cruise Itinerary or to a Resort?

Despite the Advisory Issued for Montego Bay, Cruise lines are still visiting this port and tourists are still visiting and becoming victimized at the many resorts all around Jamaica.  Please, at least follow the advisory for certain areas of Jamaica and all of the Caribbean.  

The US State Department issued a warning on January 10, 2018 for certain areas of Jamaica.  You can view that warning here:  US Jamaica Travel Advisory.  It is a level 2 warning which means "Exercise Increased Caution."  Last weekend the Jamaican Prime Minister declared a State of Emergency in certain areas of Jamaica, such as Montego Bay.  Why?  The murder rate is twice as high as in any other parish; last year there were six killings a week on average, and since the start of the year “general lawlessness” has intensified.

Repeated sexual assaults at some of the most popular vacation spots have forced the U.S. State Department to issue several safety warnings to American tourists in the last few years.  Since 2011, the Embassy in Jamaica has recorded 78 reports of rapes or sexual assaults of American tourists. Year after year, the State Department has issued warnings of "sexual assaults perpetrated by hotel employees at resort hotels."

This is not what many of us want to hear as we plan for our holiday Caribbean cruises, longing for some warmth, sun and surf.  

What should you do to keep safe if your ship docks in Jamaica?

1.  This does not affect every port.  The ports of Ochos Rios and Kingston are not affected.  
2.  Take the usual safety precautions:  Don't wear flashy clothes or jewelry, Leave your valuables in the safe and keep what you must bring close to your body in secure bags.  Here is an example that LTD uses on every adventure and it is worth it:

See LTD posting on Security for your overseas trip.

3.  Book a cruise ship excursion for high risk areas like this rather than venturing out on your own.  Just picking up a taxi for a "tour of the island" can lead to putting yourself in situations that you would rather not be in.

4.  Listen to what the US State Department recommends and download the Smart Traveler App for up to the minute information about your destination! 

According to the US Department of State Do not travel to:

Some areas of Kingston due to crime.
Some areas of Montego Bay due to crime.
Spanish Town due to crime. 
Violent crime, such as home invasions, armed robberies, and homicide, is common.  Sexual assaults occur frequently, even at all-inclusive resorts.  Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from driving outside of Kingston at night. 

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page. 

If you decide to travel to Jamaica:

Avoid walking or driving at night.
Avoid public buses.
Avoid secluded places or situations, even in resorts.
Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
Be aware of your surroundings and keep a low profile.
Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
Review the Crime and Safety Report for Jamaica.
U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations.  Review the Traveler’s Checklist. 

Despite all of these warnings, the Jamaican Tourism Ministers says it is still safe to travel to Jamaica. Always remember that these warnings are not just for Jamaica either, the trend of targeting travelers is happening all over the Caribbean! 

If you are injured your travel insurance policies should still cover you, but better not to need them!

Stay safe and travel on!!!

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