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Friday, January 26, 2024

A Heartbreaking Tale of Loss: Norfolk Couple's Dream Cruise Ends in Tragedy

In a devastating turn of events, the picturesque landscapes of Cozumel, Mexico, became the backdrop for a tragic incident that claimed the lives of a Navy veteran and a dedicated local nurse. Robert Baker, 72, and Diane Baker, 62, embarked on a dream vacation aboard the Norwegian Sky cruise ship, only to have their journey cut short by an unforeseen motorcycle accident during an offshore excursion.

The couple's "5 Night Caribbean: Great Stirrup Cay & Cozumel" cruise, which commenced on January 21 from Miami, took a heartbreaking turn when the Bakers decided to explore Cozumel on a rented motorcycle. Little did they know that this decision would lead to a fatal accident along Cozumel's Southern Coastal Highway.

The tragedy unfolded during daylight hours but went unnoticed for several hours until a passing motorist discovered the crashed motorcycle and the Bakers on that fateful Tuesday night. The couple was reportedly returning the motorcycle to catch their cruise ship, scheduled to depart at 5 p.m., when the accident occurred. The exact timing of the crash remains unknown.

This unfortunate incident sheds light on the risks associated with vehicle rentals in foreign locales, particularly during vacation excursions. Cozumel, in particular, has witnessed a series of accidents involving American tourists, emphasizing the dangers of renting vehicles in unfamiliar territories.


The Bakers' fate echoes a similar incident in September 2023, where two American passengers from Carnival Paradise, Natalia and Ashley Ortega, were involved in a serious scooter accident during a separate excursion. The cruise ship departed without knowledge of their situation, leaving the injured passengers behind.

Cruise lines like Carnival Cruise Line strongly advise against renting motor vehicles from non-approved vendors in ports of call due to less stringent regulations compared to the U.S. Variable conditions of vehicles and roads, combined with lax enforcement of local traffic laws, significantly increase the risk of accidents. Passengers are urged to evaluate their own experience and comfort level with different modes of transport and prioritize safety gear like helmets and protective clothing.

The aftermath of overseas incidents also reveals the complexities families face when dealing with accidents abroad. In the case of the Bakers, their son, Sam Eisenhuth, struggled to obtain information about the accident through the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Similarly, the Ortega family grappled with exorbitant medical bills.

Honoring the memory of the Bakers, active members of the Real Life Christian Church in Chesapeake, Virginia, a Celebration of Life service is scheduled for February 2 at 6:30 p.m. During this difficult time, our thoughts are with their family, and these incidents serve as a somber reminder of the importance of safety and awareness during travel.

the U.S. Department of State often provides travel information, including advice on renting vehicles in foreign countries, through its travel advisories.

Here are some general considerations when renting a vehicle out of the country:

  1. Check Travel Advisories: The U.S. Department of State issues travel advisories for different countries, and these advisories often include information about safety and security concerns, including those related to transportation.

  2. Local Laws and Regulations: Before renting a vehicle in a foreign country, it's crucial to be aware of local laws and regulations regarding driving. Different countries may have varying road conditions, traffic rules, and enforcement standards.

  3. Approved Rental Agencies: Travelers are often advised to use well-established and reputable rental agencies. Some travel advisories may caution against renting from non-approved vendors due to potential issues with the condition of vehicles and the quality of service.

  4. Insurance Coverage: Understanding the insurance coverage provided by the rental agency and whether it aligns with personal needs is crucial. Travelers might consider additional insurance coverage for better protection.

  5. Road Safety: Some travel advisories provide information about the general safety of roads and transportation infrastructure in specific countries. This includes insights into potential hazards and risks associated with driving.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding renting vehicles in specific locations, it's recommended to check the latest travel advisories on the official website of the U.S. Department of State or consult with the relevant embassy or consulate. Travel conditions and advisories can change, so it's essential to stay informed with the latest information before planning any trip.

1 comment:

  1. This is so sad to read. It reminds me of what I saw when traveling in Thailand years ago: the tourist “tattoo” all the backpackers had - legs and arms with fresh road rash from motorbike accidents. In many places, renting a car is either impossible (such as when local laws prohibit tourists from doing so) or just not practical, due to road size, road conditions, etc. Scooters and motorbikes are the mode of transport used by most people in some areas tourists visit, and it makes sense that tourists would do the same. That said, in my opinion - and my experience - this is something people should consider carefully. These vehicles are not like riding a bicycle and not like driving a car. For a person with no motorcycle driving experience, it’s really dangerous. Roads and trails can be full of sand traps, loose gravel and potholes, and having to make quick decisions about the unfamiliar route is an added risk. Further, emergency medical or rescue services may not be to a standard expected by most Americans, depending on where you are. It may take these organizations a lot longer to respond with help, if they are available at all.