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We just returned back home from the CB (2/18-25) and while we were in St. Maarten on an excursion, we were held at gunpoint. I am grateful for my life as well as the lives of my husband and our two children (daughter age 13 and son age 10) and the entire group that we were with. Here is my true story...
We were in St. Maarten on 2/22 and had a booked the Rhino Boat excursion. There was about 14 others on the excursion, including us four and four other people that were on the CB. We headed out on the boats to our snorkeling destination at Happy Bay which is on the West side of St. Martin (French side). At this point, we were about an hour into the excursion and having a blast. Anyway, at Happy Bay, the guide tied all our boats together and said we could all put on our gear and go snorkeling. We were all tied together about 100 ft. or so from the beach. After about 5 minutes, my husband decided to jump in the water and coaxed our children to jump in as well. At this point, they were not wearing their gear, just testing the waters. No one else on the tour had left their boats yet. My husband said he would like to swim to shore with the kids and start them snorkeling in shallow waters so he jumped back in his boat to get his gear and my daughter jumped back on with him. My son stayed in the water right next to my boat.
Suddenly, I heard loud voices behind me so I turned around and there was a catamaran along side our tied up Rhino boats and the owner of the cat was yelling at our guide. He was speaking french so I don't know exactly what he was saying but he was pointing down the side of his cat and I gathered that he was thinking we scratched his boat. Our guide asked him to calm down. Next there appeared a woman on the cat who also proceeded to yell at us. The man disappeared below deck and came back up with a gun and pointed it directly at our guide and shouted in english, "I will shoot you!!" He then proceeded to point the gun at every one of us individually (including our children and another 15-year old boy in our group). He was yelling and waving the gun madly and proceeding to cock the gun. My daughter became so terrified that she screamed and jumped in the water and started swimming. I reached out of my boat and grabbed her by the life vest and held her and my son inbetween my boat and my husband's in the water with only their heads up and I sternly told them not to move or make a sound. I did not turn around again until we were able to get the heck out of there. I layed across my boat with my back exposed to the gunman shielding my children.
Our guide was quickly untying our boats at that time while at the same time talking very calmly to the gunman who was at this point not only still yelling and waving the gun at all of us but also screaming "Americans!!!!". The guide instructed me to put the kids in the boats and GO. I got my daughter on my boat and she was crying and trembling hysterically and I wanted to wait for my husband and son but they were still tied to our guide's boat. My husband waved me to GO GO GO. So I punched my boat full throttle and went quite a distance then stopped to look back. My husband and son were just starting to get away from the cat with the guide behind them. The man on the cat was still pointing his gun at us. We all kept on going and going until we were just about back to our starting point and we all gathered our boats together in the water and said so many prayers.
When back to our starting point, one of the men in our party wrote an official report that everyone, including the children, attested to and signed to which the owner of the boat company gave to the officials. Two men from the boat company went back out to the location to get the name of the catamaran because although we all saw the name of it (it was only 5-10 ft. away from us) none of us could remember it as we were all so terrified during the ordeal.
When back on the ship, we reported the incident to which we were told that the boat company had already called Princess and reported it. Of course we were given a full refund for the tour.
In conclusion I must say that our excursion guide acted in a very appropriate manner during the ordeal and his calm manner in his interaction with the crazed gun man saved our lives. We do not hold the boat company responsible. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We were also told by multiple locals back at the Rhino boat company that something like this has never occured during all the years they have sponsored the tour and they were all very kind and extremely sympathetic with us.
In case you are wondering, we are all doing ok. The kids returned to the kids club on the ship for the next few days and I think the distraction was the best thing for them. We have talked with the kids extensively about the ordeal and they seem to be ok at this point in time, however, I am keeping an extra watchful eye on their behavior and praying they do not become emotionally scarred. I will just pray every night.
No Rino for us then. That was a horrible time for you your husband and mostly your and all the children.
We are going to S M in March and April too...
I will pray for you and all . As well that crazed man with a gun.
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Again we came from Flanders on ships over with King Richard I won England then Scotland.Only have our families documented from a.d. 528 so far.
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May GOD Bless US of America !
eh..what did ya say?
I know we can/may all agree to disagree on cruising but hopefully will engage in debates that provide learning opportunities for all. I am usually very receptive to listen to opinions that may differ from mine.
What an experience. Thank you for sharing it with us...and I really appreciate your attitude. Rather than blasting the tour company you stated it perfectly...wrong place, wrong time.
I am glad you and your family are safe. Your actions to protect your children brought tears to my eyes...and then to leave some of your family members behind as you fled. I cant imagine the terror!
I hope your kids will be find, I am sure they probably will be, sounds like you and your husband kept your heads and were excellent role models in an unthinkable situation. Kudos to you all!
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Thank God you got back safely. What a horrible experience. I really commend you and your husband for keeping cool heads for the sake of your kids. Lucky children!! I do hope they do something about the crazed gunman -- he's truly a threat.
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I feel so sorry that you and your family had to undergo such a terrifying incident. If there is one saving grace, please take heart in the fact that you have the sincere admiration of everyone reading your post that you and your family acted in a manner that showed calm and courage. Yuor children are in our thoughts and prayers.
I wonder if all of the French St. Marten residents hate Americans? If so, the cruise ships should stop sending people there on excursions. What a horrible experience, the kids may need some counseling on this life threatening experience.
I am not educated very well when it comes to St. Martin/ St. Maarten. However, my aunt and uncle own a Jewelry store on the St. Maarten side and are highly regarded by the locals. Their son, my cousin, lives there and runs the store.
I don't really think it's fair to assume that they hate Americans. This has to be an isolated incident. Perhaps the gunman had some beef with the tour operator himself or maybe he was a former employee? Who knows really, just thank god this family and the others were unharmed.
My point is that we shouldn't assume hate because of one persons actions. *Edited - I'm sorry, I reread your post, you didn't really assume, you just wondered, I apologize.
I am so sorry you and your family, and the other people on your tour, had to endure this. It sounds like everyone, including the guide, you and your husband, handled this in the best way possible.
Thank goodness the outcome was what is was!! You are in our thoughts as you move forward from this incident!
Wishing you all the best!!
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