Should I Be Worried About the Increased Bahamas Travel Advisory?

Should I be worried about the increased Bahamas travel advisory? We give you our thoughts and advice about visiting the Bahamas on a cruise.

Should I Be Worried About the Increased Bahamas Travel Advisory?

The Bahamas is one of the most popular countries in the world for cruise ships, welcoming millions of cruise passengers per year. Late last month, the U.S. Department of State raised its travel advisory for the Bahamas to “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution”. It states that visitors should “exercise increased caution in The Bahamas due to crime.” With news of the heightened alert level, many cruisers are wondering whether they should head into the Bahamas during their next port calls or skip going ashore entirely.

Should I Worry About the Increased Bahamas Travel Advisory?

Though the advisory is for the country of The Bahamas as a whole, it states that the majority of crime takes places on the islands of New Providence and Grand Bahama, where popular cruise port cities Nassau and Freeport are located.

Should I Be Worried About the Increased Bahamas Travel Advisory?

In Nassau, the Department of State says that visitors should “practice increased vigilance in the ‘Over the Hill’ area (south of Shirley Street) where gang-on-gang violence has resulted in a high homicide rate primarily affecting the local population.” It goes on to say that violent crimes, such as robberies and sexual assault, are known to occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas as well.

What exactly is a “Level 2” travel advisory?

So what should you do about the advisory when taking a cruise to the Bahamas? First, it should be noted that level two is not considered an emergency. For reference, level three means “reconsider travel” and level four is “do not travel.” So even with level three, the government is not telling citizens that they shouldn’t travel to that destination at all.

What level two means is that you need to stay very aware of your surroundings. Don’t go down questionable streets or venture into unfamiliar and non-touristy neighborhoods. And don’t trust strangers — no matter how friendly or convincing they can be. That means you might want to think twice about that free rum punch.

Though, to paint a bigger picture of a level two advisory, other countries that are currently under a level two include France, Belgium, Germany, Costa Rica, Sweden, Spain, Italy, and Turks and Caicos — not exactly places that most people are actively avoiding.

The advisory summary also references recreational watercraft activities and tours, specifically how they are not consistently regulated. It says “Watercraft may be poorly maintained, and some operators may not have safety certifications.  Always review and heed local weather and marine alerts before engaging in water-based activities. Commercial watercraft operators have discretion to operate their vessels regardless of weather forecasts; injuries and fatalities have occurred.”

Cruising From the Bahamas This Summer Is About to Get Easier

What’s the safest option for visiting the Bahamas on a cruise?

One of the safest ways to experience the Bahamas is to book a group excursion through your cruise line. This ensures that you are traveling with a company and tour guides that the cruise line has vetted. This offers an extra layer of security when it comes to knowing which companies are trustworthy, reputable, and follow safety protocols when it comes to their equipment and instruction.

In addition, there are benefits to booking an excursion through the cruise line that you won’t get if you book an independent tour or explore on your own. For one, the cruise line knows where you are in case of an emergency. And the cruise line has an easy way to contact the tour agency if issues arise.

Plus, if the cruise line deems that a particular excursion or region of the Bahamas is unsafe for its guests, it will simply cancel those tours and activities, like following the recent Pirate’s Cove incident that has caught national attention. The safety of guests is always the cruise line’s top priority.

Many cruise passengers also prefer to take excursions through the cruise line because they come with the guarantee that you won’t get left behind. If your excursion has a delay and arrives back to the ship late, the ship will not leave without you. It’s the captain’s discretion when it comes to passengers who are on independent tours or no organized activities at all, but they won’t leave if the missing guests are on an excursion that was booked through the cruise line.

If you want to go the most cautious route, it can be lots of fun to stay on the ship during a port day and have it (almost) entirely to yourselves. There can be something really peaceful about arriving into a port knowing you’re not going ashore. And instead, you can enjoy your favorite spots on the ship without as many crowds and the distractions, lines, and high energy that come with them.

Carnival cruise tips

Bottom Line

Even though the advisory has been raised to a level two, we wouldn’t recommend you cancel your Bahamas cruise. We also don’t recommend that you skip your port days entirely unless you truly want to enjoy a quieter ship. Instead, be extra careful about the excursions you book. Book through the cruise line if possible.

Otherwise, read reviews and get a good sense of how reputable the company is you’re looking to book with. If you’re venturing out on your own, look up which areas to avoid and stay in the touristy areas.

As with any place you go, stay aware of the people around you and don’t accept anything (food, drinks, a ride, etc.) from anyone you don’t know. With a healthy awareness of your surroundings, our advice is to go on that Bahamas cruise and have a great visit.


What are your thoughts on the increased Bahamas travel advisory? What will you do differently when visiting the Bahamas on a cruise? Drop us an anchor below to share your experiences visiting the Bahamas.

Sarah has been writing about the cruise industry since 2015, and in that time has taken a dozen cruises and counting. Her favorite onboard activities include trying the casual dining options, spending time in the spa’s thermal suite, and attending the love & marriage show. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @IAmSarahJaneB.
Sarah Bretz, Contributor
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Should I Be Worried About the Increased Bahamas Travel Advisory?

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