Montego Bay is in a State of Emergency
If you’re on a cruise headed for Jamaica, be aware that a recent increase in violent crimes have prompted Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness to announce a state of emergency and travel warning for St. James Parish, where the cruise port of Montego Bay is located.
“I have been advised by the security forces, in writing, that the level of criminal activity experienced, continued and threatened, is of such a nature and so extensive in scale as to endanger public safety," Holness said in a government news release. Those visiting Montego Bay have been advised to avoid certain areas, not go out alone, and not leave their resorts.
According to the U.S. Department of State, visitors should avoid walking or driving at night, avoid public buses and secluded places even during the day, and keep a low profile. The level 2 advisory states “Violent crime, such as home invasions, armed robberies, and homicide, is common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, even at all-inclusive resorts. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.” Meanwhile, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office is advising their citizens to use caution when withdrawing from ATMs, not carry large amounts of cash, avoid wearing flashy jewelry, and even vary which restaurants they patronize.
Stick close to your resort or excursion group. - Photo by Shutterstock/Lucky-Photographer
Last year, there were 335 murders recorded in St. James and since the new year, four more have been killed. With the state of emergency in effect, some rights have been suspended. Businesses and recreational areas are under a mandatory curfew, and members of the security forces may search buildings or homes without a warrant.
What does this mean for cruise passengers? If you are visiting Montego Bay for the day, book an excursion through your cruise line or a well-known third-party operator, or just stay on the ship. If you do decide to head off the ship, don’t carry a lot of cash, leave your jewelry on the ship, pay attention to your surroundings at all times, and never go anywhere by yourself.