Embassy Issues Warning to Bahamas Visitors

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Each year, thousands of spring breakers head to the Bahamas on vacation, many of them via cruise ships. Hoping to help them avoid danger and even time behind bars, the Bahamian Embassy issued an advisory, saying that by following their “tips and [exercising] caution and good judgment,” travelers would make their own stays both safer and more pleasant.

Avoid Jet Ski Operators

If renting a jet ski while in the Bahamas is on your must-do list, proceed with caution. “Jet ski operators,” the advisory warns, “continue to commit sexual assaults and other crimes against tourists, including U.S. citizens. U.S. Embassy personnel are instructed not to use jet ski rentals on New Providence and Paradise Beaches, including Cabbage Beach and Cable Beach. We strongly recommend you also avoid patronizing jet ski rental operations.”

Noting that “every year, U.S. citizens are killed or very seriously injured in scooter accidents,” the Embassy’s advisory suggests renters inspect the equipment carefully and “avoid old or rundown machines.” It goes on to suggest tourists do something that few likely do, which is “ask to see a copy of the operator’s business license and inquire about their medical and liability insurance coverage.” Given how many folks might be new to riding scooters, they also suggest you ask for training before using the equipment, and offer a reminder that “traffic in the Bahamas travels on the left side of the road and can be difficult to navigate.” They also say that “unlicensed scooter operators and rental services have been linked to assaults, including sexual assaults.”

Crime & Punishment

While some tourists seem to think that people in the Bahamas simply walk around openly toking all day, the Embassy reminds that “the possession or use of illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy, is a criminal offense” that can result in jail time. And don’t think you’ll get off easy as a minor, as “all persons 16 years of age or older… are tried as adults” in the Bahamas! It’s also worth remembering that “entrapment is a frequently used law enforcement technique in the Bahamas” and “individuals offering drugs for sale may very well be undercover police officers.”

Finally, the Embassy points out that despite what you may have seen on television, they probably won’t be a whole lot of help should you wind up in hot water. “Your U.S. citizenship will not help you and will not exempt you from full prosecution under the Bahamas’ criminal justice system,” they warn. “U.S. Embassy officials can visit you in jail, provide information about the Bahamas’ legal system, and give you a list of local attorneys or doctors. [But] we cannot arrange for reduction of charges, your release from jail or payment of medical, hospital or other bills.” They do, however, say they should definitely be contacted if you are “a victim of crime or your passport has been lost or stolen.”

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