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I just read about this on another web site. How sad. We were at that port in April & it was our favorite stop. It was the only port we've been to where we felt we were truly appreciated & welcomed by the locals. What a shame that this might have a negative impact on tourism there.
I was so sorry to hear about this situation. I e-mailed Gus about this situation a few days ago, as we're planning to bring a group on his Humanitarian Tour in January. He told me that he's the Secretary of Security for Livingston County and that the gang members who did this came in from Honduras. He said that new security measures and steps that have been put in place in the area to better protect visitors and that he's taking extra precautions for his guests as well. All that made me feel better - I'm really looking forward to this port!
I agree this was a tragedy. This appears to have occured two weeks ago (?). We were in Santo Thomas last Thursday (11/5) on the Ryndam. See the details of our visit in the "Green Bay and Los Escabos" thread.
I will say we never felt threatened in any way. We took the usual precautions and stayed with our small group. It is certainly appropriate in a country such as this to stay with official guides or ships tours.
The people we met in Guatemala were the most warm & friendly we have ever encountered in a port. We were truly sad to leave there.
Past Cruises: (star ratings reflect our opinion of the on-board experience, not the port calls!)
1985: Commodore Cruise Line - Caribe to Eastern Caribbean
1986: NCL Starward to Western Caribbean / 1988: NCL Starward to Southern Caribbean 2009: Aug - HAL Amsterdam to Alaska ***** / Nov - HAL Ryndam to Western Caribbean (central America) **** 2010: Feb - Celebrity Century to Key West & Grand Cayman ****1/2 / May - Celebrity Summit to Bermuda ***1/2 / Oct/Nov - Celebrity Infinity through the Panama Canal ***** 2011: Jan - Crown Princess to Western Caribbean ** / Mar - HAL Westerdam to Southern Caribbean ***** / Oct/Nov - Celebrity Solstice to Western Mediterranean ***1/2 2012: Jan - HAL Eurodam to Eastern Caribbean ****1/2 / May - HAL Ryndam to the Fjords & North Cape ****1/2 / Sept/Oct - Celebrity Summit to Canada & Maine ** 2013: Jan - HAL Zuiderdam Panama Canal Sunfarer **** / April - Viking Skadi "Tulips & Windmills" *** / Oct/Nov - Celebrity Constellation to Turkey & Greece **** 2014: Feb - HAL Westerdam Eastern Caribbean ****1/2 / May/June - HAL Prinsendam Kiel Canal and Baltics **** / HAL Westerdam Panama Canal 15 days *****
188 cruising days and counting!
Unfortunately it is difficult for many Americans to tell when they are at risk. Many equate a sense of security by the lack of a physically-intimidating environment.
Remember the opening scenes from the 1985-89 television program, "The Equalizer"? Dark, urban, lonely, graffiti-scarred scenes? Especially to viewers living in the open spaces of suburbia where such an environment is largely absent, these scenes created a sense of threat to many Americans.
On the other hand, rural agricultural environments are viewed by many as tranquil and far-removed from the crime perceived as endemic in large cities. Yet, many of the security incidents in Central America (and Mexico) occur in such rural areas, notwithstanding the picturesque scene. The very lack of many other people in these rural areas is helpful for these criminals to ply their trade, and in that sense, being in a crowded city centre is usually the more secure location (just be aware of pickpocketing). While the man who perished was attacked in a small city, Puerto Barrios, it was in an isolated cemetery rather than a crowded city centre.
Bottom line: Don't let the beauty and tranquility of the environment cause you to believe that it is "safe." Don't be paranoid about going anywhere, but simply keep your street senses up regardless of whether you're in the city or the country.
Don't let this shooting put you off Guatemala. Was just on the NCL Spirit 11/15/09 and really loved Santo Tomas. This is one of my favorite places since the people are very friendly and nice.
This is my second trip here and this time went for a city bus tour. It did stop at the same cemetery. We did not have any issues, in fact I did see a guy in the back watching us. He had on some type of yellow reflective gear and might have been security.
We did venture outside the port gates on foot. You will get approached by the taxi drivers but that it so problem. There is not much to see in this town as it is a commercial port. We did have a cute 5 year old girl come up with the cutiest smile asking for a dollar. With her huge smile we had to give her a couple of bucks.
One tour guide told me that these gangsters used to live in USA in L.A as part of a gang. In the USA you can be shot by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
NCL Sun from N.O - Oct 2006
NCL Spirit from N.O - Nov 15th 2009
NCL Sky from Miami - July 12th 2010
NCL Spirit from N.O - Nov 28th 2010
Carnival Elation from Mobile - May 2nd 2011
NCL Spirit from N.O - Oct 23rd 2011
NCL Star from N.O - Dec 16th 2012
NCL Star from N.O - April 14th 2013
NCL Jewel from N.O - Oct 22nd 2013
We were on the same cruise. This fellow had hired his own taxi to do a tour, getting out to check out the local cemetary. We decided to take a walk outside the compound, and turned back after 1/2 block. We have travelled extensively and both have worked upward of 21+ years in a prison and it made us uncomfortable. I am sure if you are on a tour, be it Gus' or a NCL you will be fine though.