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reyesj226

Teenage Cruise Passenger Tragically Killed in St. Thomas Shooting

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First off -- let me preface this by saying I'm not a risk-averse traveler -- far from it. I've been to all seven continents and backpacked across China, Africa and South America on my own. No tour group. Just me and a friend or two...and in the case of Africa, with just my girls.

 

Gotta say, I've been to STT several times and I love it there (love St. John even more) -- but I'm staying away until they clean it up a bit (which sadly, doesn't look likely since it sounds like the police force is corrupt). Why risk your life on vacation? Really? I hate to say this -- because I feel so badly for how this could affect local businesses and honest hardworking people on the island -- but maybe it's going to take the cruise ships pulling out of the island for the local government to realize they need to turn the place around. If law enforcement doesn't do something drastic, it's only going to get worse. And lets face it...the per capita murder rate there is STAGGERING. One of the highest in the world. And the incidences of public shootings in daylight are on the rise -- meaning it is just a matter of time before another innocent person gets caught in the crossfire. I mean -- punishing murderers by only putting them on house arrest? You've got to be kidding. That's just lazy and negligent law enforcement.

 

Again, these islands can be fun -- but they can also be terrifying. If you are worried about it being unsafe, don't go. I didn't trust my instinct and I took a cruise to Ocho Rios, Jamaica a few years back. I got a bad feeling immediately after leaving the ship...yet my gal pal and I really wanted to hit the beach, so we hopped in a cab. Worst mistake ever. We almost got kidnapped by THE CAB DRIVER! He literally locked us in and drove the opposite way we asked him to go. If we hadn't banged the hell out of the windows and caused a major scene as he got stuck in traffic, I don't know what would've happened. Needless to say -- I'll never go back there. It's just not worth it. There are plenty of other tourist destinations just as beautiful (if not moreso) that protect their tourists.

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Show me a city in the US that doesn't have gangs..... There are gang shootings everywhere. It is so sad this happened, but it happens in the US all the time.

 

We did Godfrey tour in May, off the Dream. I never felt unsafe. We went to Maagens Bay. On the way back we went to Coki for a different view of the island. I'm sure Godfrey won't go there anymore. That is sad. One thing that struck me there was a school that had a fence with barb wire around it. You passed it just before getting to Coki.

 

As for Maagens, you go in a more wilderness area, and it seems safer than Coki. I would go back to Maagens, but would be a little concerned to come back the other way around the island. I just have a feeling for now the operators won't go over there.

 

Booking thru Carnival does not make you bullet proof. I'm just saying.....

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We have lots of thoughts here and I respect all of those. We stayed in St Thomas for a week and got to know a lot of the locals. They were frustrated that gangs were getting stronger and the police were turning their heads. The Navy has a base there and restricted the sailors from many area as they were not safe...not a pleasant thought for those who spend their days trying to protect us....

 

Like some other islands it is a common thread that the police are inefficient and ineffective and rife with being on the take.

 

It took the cruise lines cancelling the port of St Croix to wake up that island, maybe that's what it will take with St. Thomas. It's reallyh a sade state of affairs when the few affect the masses.

 

Will I get off the ship? Yes, will I still go to Coki beach? Yes, to me that will be the safest place to go because there will be a lot more focus on that area, and am sure a lot more police presence.

 

Be careful, but don't let isolated incidents change or ruin your "funcation".

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I went to St. Thomas back in January and went to Coki. Never felt unsafe. The only thing that seemed shady were the little "shops" they had selling snorkel equipment and such by the beach. Wasn't the biggest or the most beautiful beach, but it had awesome snorkeling.

 

Tragic incident that will unfortunately drive a lot of people away.

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I have a feeling that the Coki Beach/Coral World area is going to get a major safety upgrade after this sad, senseless incident. It might turn out to be the safest place to go in the future. I hope so, because the snorkeling there is amazing.

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I am so confused and upset with the recent events. We are on the oasis of the seas and will be in st. thomas on july 20th, tuesday. We have a tour booked with sunny liston. I am seriously thinking of cancelling.

 

My concern is I am traveling with 6 teens....3 of them not my own children, friends of my children. I cannot grasp putting someone else's kids in any situation.

 

If we cancel tour, is there something all-inclusive we can do, like a resort.

 

If we stay with tour how is the area to get to sapphire beach?

 

rachel

 

I seen on Sunny Listons Facebook page that he will not go to Coki Beach. I feel so sorry for the independent tour operators. They are having a lot of people cancel. We will be going to St. Thomas Aug. 31st. I am keeping my booking with Sunny.

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I seen on Sunny Listons Facebook page that he will not go to Coki Beach. I feel so sorry for the independent tour operators. They are having a lot of people cancel. We will be going to St. Thomas Aug. 31st. I am keeping my booking with Sunny.

 

We took Godfrey, who gave all the pax the option of the three beaches.

 

We chose Megan's Bay, but ended up going to the other two to pick the others up afterwards.

 

I wonder what he will do?

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I have a feeling that the Coki Beach/Coral World area is going to get a major safety upgrade after this sad, senseless incident. It might turn out to be the safest place to go in the future. I hope so, because the snorkeling there is amazing.

 

Sorry, but I'm no longer worried about Coki. It's the next point of retaliation that is inevitable. Could be anywhere.

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The roads taking you to Magens are not on the known troubled areas (whereas the area surrounding Coki makes some people nervous at night). Most of the Magens area is residential, with a few landscape businesses, and maybe a few small convenience stores, and the "dairy." Magens Beach can get crowded on popular local holidays, so I'd ask a driver before going if it's a local holiday, and if yes, I'd ask for another beach suggestion.

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We will be in St. Thomas on Sept. 1st and have booked an excursion to Sapphire Beach. Is this beach near Coki beach?

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To all of those who say that random acts of violence can & do happen everywhere.... I agree.

 

HOWEVER, many of us would not willingly take a vacation to a place that has a high crime rate.

 

It IS a factor in choosing what we do at these ports. Sorry to the people who think we should just move past this & act as if it won't ever happen again. I do think it's important that we take a closer look at St. Thomas, and other ports, before we choose our excursions... and ultimately our whole cruise itinerary.

 

And, I'm sure Carnival & other cruise lines will be doing the same. They have pulled out of ports before due to the rising crime rates.

 

At the very least, I do think that cruisers should be made more aware of the risks at the various ports. Not in such a way as to "scare" people from enjoying them, but to help them make more informed decisions about where to go. Ultimately, people will make their own choices & go where they want to go, but I do think being more aware of the crime rate will help many people when choosing excursions.

 

I don't feel bad that tourism is curbed from Coki Beach now. I had no idea that people felt unsafe getting to it, or that there is a "bad" part of the beach. I appreciate all of the opinions! I'm going to St. Thomas in October and I may choose a different excursion now.

 

Making people aware of the crime rate can have a positive effect on the island and motivate them to do something about their gang problems, because if they don't, and it continues, they will lose alot of money from tourism.

 

I know the chances of a senseless murder happening again at this beach is slim. But, I don't go on vacation to worry about the safety of my life or my family's lives. I always take precautions ANYWHERE I travel to, but having to WORRY about safety is not my idea of "paradise".

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This is, unfortunately, not a new problem. I spent several days at a very nice hotel near downtown Charlotte Amalie in 1994, and every time we went out after dark the desk clerk reminded us to avoid the main shopping street where all the jewelry and perfume stores are, since once they closed the street was a great place to get mugged. A tourist from San Diego was shot to death while we were there one night on the main drag when he went out to rent a video. I felt perfectly safe during the day, but nighttime was another matter. This latest shooting sounds like a major escalation of the crime problem. Here's an article about Coki Beach from yesterday's Virgin Islands Daily News: http://virginislandsdailynews.com/news/coki-beach-remains-deserted-after-shooting-1.890956

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We are on a private sail on July 28. We're on the Celebrity Solstice, so we will be taking a taxi from Havensport to Red Hook. Does anyone know if the route the taxis take go by Coral World? Are all taxis open (safari)? I hate to cancel and get caught up in the hysteria as well. We did this same daysail about 3 years ago.

 

Thanks!

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We are on a private sail on July 28. We're on the Celebrity Solstice, so we will be taking a taxi from Havensport to Red Hook. Does anyone know if the route the taxis take go by Coral World? Are all taxis open (safari)? I hate to cancel and get caught up in the hysteria as well. We did this same daysail about 3 years ago.

 

Thanks!

 

In the Havensite Mall area we caught a taxi van and went to Sapphire Beach a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I think that only when it starts affecting their income will the residents unite and demand change and things will start to get better in regards to crime on the island.

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Gotta say, I've been to STT several times and I love it there (love St. John even more) -- but I'm staying away until they clean it up a bit (which sadly, doesn't look likely since it sounds like the police force is corrupt). Why risk your life on vacation? Really? I hate to say this -- because I feel so badly for how this could affect local businesses and honest hardworking people on the island -- but maybe it's going to take the cruise ships pulling out of the island for the local government to realize they need to turn the place around. If law enforcement doesn't do something drastic, it's only going to get worse. And lets face it...the per capita murder rate there is STAGGERING. One of the highest in the world. And the incidences of public shootings in daylight are on the rise -- meaning it is just a matter of time before another innocent person gets caught in the crossfire. I mean -- punishing murderers by only putting them on house arrest? You've got to be kidding. That's just lazy and negligent law enforcement.

.

 

My thoughts exactly. Esp the bolded.

 

Show me a city in the US that doesn't have gangs..... There are gang shootings everywhere. It is so sad this happened, but it happens in the US all the time.

 

St. Thomas is the US, and if you show me another city in the US with such high murder rates then I can promise you I'll steer clear of them as well. The problem is that the shooting has moved from "the bad parts of town" to the local K-marts.

 

Sorry, but I'm no longer worried about Coki. It's the next point of retaliation that is inevitable. Could be anywhere.

 

Exactly.

 

We had scheduled excursions when we docked on the Epic. Dh and I have decided to cancel them and stay on the ship instead.

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:cool: First all our prayers go out to this family. This should never have happened and we hope that the gang members responsible are quickly arrested and made an example of.

 

We love St Thomas, visit often and are sick about this news that has swept the USA. Even worse is the story from the local newspaper. Nothing is changing and nobody seems to care about it. Cruise ships should go to other islands until the government gets serious about growing gang violence. Downtown during the day is well policed-the countryside is not. Shop keepers that cater to tourists better make themselves heard with corrupt local authorities.

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:cool: First all our prayers go out to this family. This should never have happened and we hope that the gang members responsible are quickly arrested and made an example of.

 

We love St Thomas, visit often and are sick about this news that has swept the USA. Even worse is the story from the local newspaper. Nothing is changing and nobody seems to care about it. Cruise ships should go to other islands until the government gets serious about growing gang violence. Downtown during the day is well policed-the countryside is not. Shop keepers that cater to tourists better make themselves heard with corrupt local authorities.

Sadly, I am afraid that you are correct. Many years ago, before we discovered cruising, we would vacation about twice a year in Freeport Grand Bahama Island. We were so harrassed, and even threatened, by the locals that we decided we would never return; and, we never did. Instead, we bought a nice beachfront condo in SWFL, and we enjoyed our vacations there in comfort and safety. We became so happy with the area that we became permanent Floridians. Also, we are very comfortable since we are able to exercise our 2nd amendment rights.

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I live on St. Thomas and work in the Coki Beach area. Coki Beach is one of my favorite beaches and hands down it has the best snorkeling and something for everyone. This was a trajic and isolated incident. The people at Coki are hard working and care about each other and the tourists. It saddens me that this incident could take Coki off the map for so many. I am originally from Texas, have worked in this area for the last few years. I have seen many families come and go and have the time of their lives. Their is something for everyone at Coki. Scuba, snorkeling, jet skis, parasailing, Coral World, Sea Trek, Snuba, it has it all. I hope tourist will help take a stand and continue to choose Coki. What people might call "shady" characters, is maybe a first impression. We are in the Islands, life is simpler and people make do with less and aren't as concerned with appearances as in the States. Keep that in mind. Areas in town are safe and most people are looking out for your best interest and want you to have a good time.

I have 2 children, both girls. One just turned 15, so I can sympathize with the poor victims family. I still feel like Coki is a great place and my favorite beach to bring my kids. We feel safe.

This is not an Island where gangs run rampant. I see how things quickly get blown up to seem that way, so I have to say my peace.Don't get caught up in the hysteria. This spat was between 2 misguided youths and the tourist was not a target. It's my perspective, I was there before the shooting, during and I will continue to go to Coki Beach after the shooting.

 

I just posted this on another thread, but feel the need to post it here as well.

 

I feel that you are "sugar coating" this situation and the reality at Coki Beach. I understand that you live there and it will be devastating for the Coki area if tourist stop coming there. However, our safety is a little more important.

 

Read this article for some SHOCKING information included: http://virginislandsdailynews.com/ne...oting-1.890956

 

I have listed a few key points that DEFINITELY DISPUTES the description you have given us of the area:

 

Marijuana smoke wafted across Coki Point beach Wednesday, but the two V.I. Police police officers assigned to patrol the beach stayed inside their police car with their windows rolled up and their air conditioner on.

 

A lanky teenager tried to sell a Daily News reporter drugs less than 200 yards from where those same police officers were parked.

Bloodstains mar the bathhouse-the blood on the bathhouse was that of a beach waiter who was shot Friday night.

 

Still, an atmosphere of lawlessness — in which barkers harass tourists and drug deals are made in plain sight — crime continues there.

 

“Everything’s the same,” Stephen Hale, an instructor with Coki Point Dive Club, said. “Only the tourists are gone.”

 

During a three-hour period at Coki on Wednesday, one police officer was seen patrolling the beach — one time

 

Trudie Prior, president and general manager of Coral World, said the beach barkers are increasingly aggressive and have threatened her with physical harm when she has told them to leave Coral World’s privately owned parking lot. Prior picked up a stack of slips with police report numbers that local officers give when reports are filed. In the 13 years she has owned Coral World, she said, the barkers have never been arrested for trespassing or soliciting and the police “tend to defend the rights of the barkers.”

 

The dive shop was burglarized four times in the last two years. In one incident, a lock on the dive shop’s lockers was cut and $2,600 was taken from a tourist’s bag.

 

“The police won’t do anything,” he said.

 

It sounds to me like you are pretty much on your own and the police there are unwilling to make any changes or do anything about it. Very, very sad. What are they going to do when everyone stops going there and it hits their economy? Things are only going to get worse for St Thomas.

 

Just some things to think about. Everyone can come to their own conclusion. However, I will be avoiding that area, contrary to what ANY local would tell me. :rolleyes:

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I just posted this on another thread, but feel the need to post it here as well.

 

I feel that you are "sugar coating" this situation and the reality at Coki Beach. I understand that you live there and it will be devastating for the Coki area if tourist stop coming there. However, our safety is a little more important.

 

Just some things to think about. Everyone can come to their own conclusion. However, I will be avoiding that area, contrary to what ANY local would tell me. :rolleyes:

 

Agreed!

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What a terrible tragedy.. senseless crime that took a completely innocent, young life. :(

 

Has anyone heard if the tour company was one of the ones that is frequently spoken of here on CC; AirForceOne.. Godfrey.. EEE?

Yes it was a tour compnay but could have just as easily been through ship excursion office. It was just a terrible unfortunate accident but as others have said: could have happened in their own home town.

My sincere condolences to the family but I do hope it doesn't deter others from taking a tour.

 

I go to St. Thomas every year and always encourage the people I take with me to book through Sunny Liston. www.sunnylistontours.net

Fabulous tour and so much fun;see all the beauty and so much more reasonable than through the ship excusrion office. Never once in all my years have i felt unsafe at any time with him.

PS. Plus he wasn't the tour company that was involved in the terrible tragedy.

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Yes it was a tour compnay but could have just as easily been through ship excursion office. It was just a terrible unfortunate accident but as others have said: could have happened in their own home town.

My sincere condolences to the family but I do hope it doesn't deter others from taking a tour.

 

I go to St. Thomas every year and always encourage the people I take with me to book through Sunny Liston. www.sunnylistontours.net

Fabulous tour and so much fun;see all the beauty and so much more reasonable than through the ship excusrion office. Never once in all my years have i felt unsafe at any time with him.

PS. Plus he wasn't the tour company that was involved in the terrible tragedy.

 

 

It could have happened with ANY tour company, whether it was with the island or with the ship's excursions. I would definitely rather go with a tour company and be in a group than alone. I think you have a better chance of nothing happening to you in groups like that. But, I wouldn't want to take a tour to THIS area at all no matter in a group or not. This was an unfortunate incident involving the tourist. But, it's the AREA that is concerning, not the tour. Plus, when you take the tour, you are with a local that knows the areas, which is a real plus.

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:cool: Thank you Mitsugirly for moving the informative VI Daily News story to this thread. There seems to be quite an effort to minimize this and protect fiscal interests. This story is devastating and is sweeping N America. This would not happen in my town and should not happen on any vacation. It had nothing to do with the tour operator. It stems for decades of looking the other way on growing gang violence.

 

Nobody should visit this island until the responsible parties are arrested and sentenced. If I was on a cruise this summer I would stay on the ship in St Thomas. Close your wallet-then maybe something will change. This type of official indifference cannot be tolerated. It could have been anyone's sister or daughter.

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My family and I have taken 15 cruises, many of the to St. Thomas as it is (was) our favorite port to visit. I really love it there. But I will not go there again until they get crime under control. Several years ago I would not visit New York City because of the crime there, but they got wise and cleaned up the streets. Now I love NYC. St. Thomas must do the same. If I am on a ship that stops there, I WILL NOT GET OFF THE SHIP!! In the mean time, I will make every attemp not to board a ship that stops there!!

 

This is truly a beautiful island. Someone in power needs to get control of it before it becomes deserted!! This island depends on tourist $$. If the law doesn't get control, it is going to be a sad, sad place.

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