St. Thomas – No Longer a Caribbean Paradise?

In the aftermath of a tragedy – a 14-year-old girl, a passenger on Carnival Victory, was shot to death on the island of St. Thomas yesterday — people are understandably wondering if that Caribbean island is no longer a paradise.

Actually, it hasn’t been paradise for a long time.

A new post on the St. Thomas Blog, which generally focuses on the island’s charms, sums it up well:  “Today is the saddest day of my residency in St. Thomas because today I can no longer tell tourists, readers, locals and anyone else that St. Thomas is safe. It’s not. Criminals aren’t just killing criminals, they’re killing innocents.”

St. Thomas (along with other Caribbean isles with the same urban problems as many of the world’s big cities) hasn’t been safe in eons. This is not a secret, especially not among cruise line executives, politicians, tourism officials and residents. In a statement reacting to yesterday’s gang shootout, the U.S.V.I. governor John P. De Jongh, Jr. notes that “What we are experiencing today is the result of many years of neglect which we can no longer tolerate. Everyone must rise up against those who continue to wage violent crime on our streets.”

Fighting words? Not exactly. But it does seem that the citizens of St. Thomas feel powerless to effect change.

That’s exactly how I’d feel if I lived there now. That’s exactly how I felt when in fact I did live on the island – way back in 2000 – when gangs ran rampant, when random violence was common, when the only time you really felt safe was when you were hanging out in tourist areas. Yesterday’s tragic turn of events tells us now that you’re not safe even in those places.

Should cruise lines pull out of St. Thomas altogether? It’s a fair question. Would you want to go there now? This isn’t meant to punish some really fine folks who live there, who put their hearts not only into what makes it potentially such a beautiful vacation destination but also into improving the community in which they live. But the U.S. Virgin Islands needs to get this house in order.

Ironically, one of the most positive memories I have of my time there came about after a young man was shot and paralyzed from the waist down while in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas’ main city (and arguably the premier duty free shopping mecca in the Caribbean). Islanders reacted by volunteering to host “Bringing Peace to Paradise,” a music festival that aimed to motivate residents to fight crime – and provide the former surfer with funds needed to pay for surgeries and, hopefully, to help him walk again. The powerful spirit of the volunteers, who came together from so many different life paths and offered such a variety of skills, created a glow of goodwill that penetrated into some pretty dark spots. At least for a short while.

But without lasting peace, you can’t have paradise.

I ask again: should cruise lines pull out of St. Thomas? Should you vote with the power you have – to choose Caribbean cruises where St. Thomas is not on the itinerary?

Perhaps it would be the wakeup call that the island needs to make a significant and lasting charge against the runaway violence that plagues it now. Perhaps the local leadership would be wise to understand why St. Croix, the largest American virgin island, and one replete with attractions, gorgeous scenery, great surfing, pristine beaches and charming small towns, went from being a popular cruise port to one that, because of crime that wasn’t battled, has become almost nonexistent.

CSB

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59 Comments

Filed under Advice, Destinations, News, Opinion, Virgin Cruises

59 responses to “St. Thomas – No Longer a Caribbean Paradise?

  1. Having travelled to St. Thomas, I wasn’t to impressed by it without this shooting. I loved the jewellery stores but that is about it. And I think, I will try to stay away from there until they get the gangs under control.

    • bob

      I traveled to St. Thomas twice several years ago. It is a very beautiful place. However, my general feeling about travel is why pay money to travel somewhere where I am at risk of bodily harm. I can do that any day by driving to Oakland.

  2. august

    I love St. Thomas and have lived here for many years. But we all know it is no longer safe. I have heard many long term residents today state “I’m thinking of moving back stateside.” I’ve even taken a look at updating my resume myself.

    I watched a cruise ship pull into the harbour this morning hoping that no unsuspecting holiday-er is killed today. I’ve watched the cruise ships dock a million times, and this is the first time that thought passed my brain.

    Hopefully all of this international media will make the government officials actually do something.

    And my heart weeps for the little tourist and her family.

  3. maria

    I have traveled to St. Thomas twice in the past couple of years, including last month with my 15 year old daughter. So sad that such a beautiful place is rife with gangs, crime and drugs. Sadly, I will not be returning to St. Thomas.

  4. Just an FYI, I did check St. Croix’s port schedule and in February 2011, which is true high season in the Caribbean, it lags way behind all other major Caribbean isles. That’s sad; the island has so much to offer! The lack of cruise visits though is a direct result of too many crimes against passengers and crew.

    • Debra

      I have lived on St. Croix for 15 years and what many fail to mention is that the few muggings that took place were when tourists went looking for drugs. They followed strangers into areas that are known for drug dealings, got mugged and returned to the ship stating that they were mugged. Do you think they would dare mention that they were looking to buy illegal drugs? There is more to the story than always meets the eye. If St. Croix was such a dangerous place than why did Carnival continue to call on St. Croix from 6pm-12am to bunker. Carnival got cheap fuel from the oil refinery on St. Croix and allowed their passengers off the ship in the evening. It was a business decision that had very little to do with crime. The cruise lines don’t make much money visiting St. Croix no tour/shopping kickbacks to the ships.

      • chuck

        debra, i think my wife and i met you in april if you happen to be the wonderfully friendly lady we talked to twice. if your the same person, you had a tent set up selling your products which was i believe the very first display at the little market adjacent to the pier. in fact we laughed when you said [if this is the same person] you came for a 2 week vacation but never left. The island is beautiful, the people were very friendly and its so true that no matter where you go those type of neighborhoods exist. its just an unfortunate fact. its a terrible misjustice to the wonderful people and if your dumb enough to wonder into those seedy areas, you are just being foolish. the island is gorgeous and cant wait to return. debra, if this is you, what you said is so true, you dont need to drive a mercedes benze cause you still wake up with the same view as the rich. you were a dynomite person and it was a blast talking with you.

    • I brought tears to my eyes to hear the facts on that little young 14 year young who lost her life. I feel so painful for that family.

      It is so sad that a wonderful country like that misses tons of tourists and the opportunity to bring some income to their country.

      What can one do though? I would love to visit there and wanted one of my vacations within the next couple years to include that country, but if the crime is high there the risk would be hard to swallow and accept!

      There is another tourist Caribbean Island that I love and used to go there every year but since crime has become so high there I too have stayed away. It is so hard these days and crimes in the U.S. is very high too. Everything is such a risk these days and each day you have to pray that you can make it safely to see another day. I believe I will wait some more to see if they can contral the voilence in those small places.

      Thank you for your time and we hope for the best.

      • Linda

        It depends where you go in the USA, if you go to New York city, yes there will be crime. I live in Denver, Colorado, and it’s very safe here.
        The US does not have as much crime as Rome, Paris, Madrid. I saw one of our friends get the wallet stolen right out of his back pocket while walking in Rome in front of us. It fell to the ground and he got it back luckily.
        So I think Europe is just as bad in crime or worse than our big cities here in the USA. I am originally from Germany, and have lived in Europe and over 30 yrs here in Florida and Colorado. As for St. Thomas. I will still go there. If I stopped going everywhere where there is crime, I would never see anything in this beautiful world. But they do need to do something in St. Thomas and other Islands to make it safer for tourists or they will lose a lot of income they get from the ships. We were cancelled last year for our Mexico cruise due to Swine Flu, and I did lose my 9 yr old Nephew of it in Texas. I never realized how many ships go to all the ports. Carnival cancelled 90 ships to MX in just 1 mth. or so. That shows you that hundreds of ships with thousands and thousands of trourists come to all the ports. Can you imagine the loss in income. To all the Islands: Protect us from your Island, protect yourselves, or you will not have a future.

      • Robert Tasch

        I’d like to know what world Linda lives in. Denver is safe? Yeah, if you walk in crowded areas not too late at night. Europe more violent. Our murder and rape rates are much higher. Have you ever been to Detroit, Atlanta, New Orleans, Baltimore, Cleveland, St. Louis? No city in Europe even comes close to the violent crime happening in those cities. And as far ast St. Thomas? 55 shootings in the first 6 1/2 months of this year (a population of 55,000). 1 out every 1,000 people living there has been shot. Annualized, that would come to about 1 of every 550 people shot. Would you like to extrapolate that to New York City’s 8+ million population (11-12 thousand shootings in a year?). Not even close!!!

  5. purpleally

    add St Thomas to Jamaica and Bahamas as islands I will no longer visit

    • Davidga7

      You are right Purpleally! I am actually taking into account that if a particular Cruise is going to the Bahamas, Jamaica or now St Thomas, I will not choose that cruise.

      Hopefully the cruise lines will WAKE UP and see that we as passengers are not sheep hearded to slaughter!

      Hey Cruise Lines! You might pay attention to what we are writing here. If you are going to these islands…you might start rethinking your schedules starting this fall. Until and unless these Islands starting getting a handle on their RAMPANT crime problems…you are ALL going to lose because we as paying passengers are not going to book these particular cruises.

      Hopefully the loss of revenue of you not sailing FULL will make you get the message!

      Cruise Lines! Stop thinking about your bottom line and take some responsibility for your passengers safety!

  6. A somber hello from St. Thomas.

    I worked today, there was a ship in, a Carnival – and we were slow. Rumor has it this ship’s passengers were notified last night about the news from our island…their next port of call. Who knows how many people chose to stay on the ship today. No, I can’t blame them.

    We spent most of the day discussing yesterday’s tragedy…what will/won’t be done…what needs to be done…what the future holds. Of course St. Croix’s history and their departure from tourist-destination has come up often.

    I’m sad for the honest people that live on St. Thomas. For people like us who genuinely love it, and love telling people how much. For people who have lived here all their lives and done everything right by their kids in preparing them for adulthood. For people who get up everyday to earn a living. Good, hard-working people who didn’t ask to have this thrust into their lives.

    Our sadness for the tourist’s family will not diminish.

    • Linda

      My husband and I have been to beautiful St.Thomas twice on a Carnival ship. We love St. Thomas. I did not know that there was such a crime problem. But where in the world is there no crime? We will still go to our fav island,but with more caution. No matter where you go, any city in the world there is crime. I will not stop seeing beautiful places because of what “might” not will happen. But I agree they need to make it safer for all of us. Very sad a 14 yr old had to die in St. Thomas. but remember it could have been in your own city. Would you move from your own city to somewhere else where it’s not safe either? We live in a very nice neighborhood in Denver (Highlands Ranch) and we have our problems too, not much, but no place is without crime. Just become more aware and come prepared and take pre-cautions. Once I wore my expensive jewelry out on a excursion. I will never do that again after what I read today.

      • ISLANDER

        Linda i am so glad to see that you are not like most person who come from lager countries who automatically jump to the conclusion because a place has crime it is not safe, every county in the world has crime, and i’m sure alot of person who are deeming st.thomas as unsafe are from countries and cities that are possibly far worst. they just choose to pick on our poor island because we were faced with a tragedy, but many other countries have the same problems,some far worst. So for all the persons who feel that they can just ‘bash’ st.thomas,check out your own city/country, and actually live here for a while,not just spend a few hours from a cruise

  7. Teresa

    Last time I called at St Thomas on a cruise there were so many ships calling docked that it was not enjoyable at all.
    Another reason for British cruise passengers to avoid it or indeed any other Caribbean island under U.S. control is the hassle of having to get up at the crack of dawn and parade in front of an immigration officer.

  8. A suspect was arrested last night (www.cruisecritic.co.uk/news) — which is good. But it’s not the answer to St. Thomas’ crime problems.

  9. ammagic

    I have been to St. Thomas on many cruises. I do tend to stay in the tourist areas warever I visit because the world can be a rough place. I would hate to think St. Thomas is going the way of Jamaica. Everyone I know refuses to get off the ship if it goes there. Unfortunately here in the U.S. we worry to much about the criminals rights. It seems the justice department is only interested in prosecuting wealthy white people. That may change in November and have some effect. Condolances to the poor family of that little girl.

  10. There is far more to this story than has been reported in mainstream media. See http://www.cruciansinfocus.com for the full view of not just this tragedy, but the ongoing cycle of crime and corruption in the Virgin Islands. Tourists beware.

  11. Honbun26

    It is indeed a sadness, but will this prevent me from visiting? No. Just as crime has not stopped me from visiting Jamaica, or New York, or Atlanta, or Paris, or London. It is what it is. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean crime stops. Just be vigilant, be careful, be watchful.

    The way the world is now, if you stop visiting places that have criminal activity soon you will have no place to go. Its a sadness, especially for that child’s family. But don’t punish an entire population for the idiocy of a few by not visiting that lovely island.

  12. nuts4knitting

    It looks like Jamaica and St Thomas should both be off the list. If the crime in the caribbean keeps rising, before much longer the entire area will be off the cruise lists if they don’t get their house in order. Sad…

  13. maureen

    My husbands family is from St.Thomas. We were getting ready to plan a visit to family there in the near future. But now with the sad news we will not be visiting St.Thomas till those in charge of the goverment there get their act together. This has been coming for a long time.M.

  14. Caroline Gurney

    My daughter and I visited St Thomas on a cruise in 2007 and had such a happy day there. We went on the Atlantis submarine trip to view the sea bed, which was just amazing, had a wonderful meal in a roof terrace cafe, then browsed the small independent shops before taking a taxi back to our ship with a wonderful character of a driver. I bought three beautiful hand painted tops from a little boutique there and, whenever I wear one, it brings a smile to my face as I remember the sun, sea and friendly local people. As a cruise ship visitor I had no idea that the island had this violent underbelly. Everything I read before our trip emphasised that the tourist centre of Charlotte Amalie was safe. Now it appears it is not. I am so sad for the brilliant local people I met.

  15. We have been to St. Thomas three times and I have never heard that it is unsafe there like I have some of the islands. I do not think Carnival or any cruise line should stop going there. This would hurt all the good people there who depend on the cruise ships to make a living. There can be violence anywhere you go in the world. I will be praying for the family of the girl who was killed.

  16. Gary

    Yes they should stop going to any of these ports that won’t curb the violance. They also should have stopped going to Aruba after what happened to the Hollaway girl and there authories basically covered it up.

  17. Tim

    I spent 5 months cruising the carribean from St. Thomas to as far east as Grenada earlier this year. My experience is that most areas in the carribean are relatively safe, but there is crime, and sometimes violent crime in the islands. St. Thomas is developing some wide-spread notoriety though as being more dangerous than other stops, and with this I agree. I would not advise getting off of a boat in St. Thomas and roaming the island freely. St. Thomas is not the only area with trouble though. Earlier this year a sailor was nearly beaten to death while at anchor in St. Martin. A couple of years ago, a captain of a superyacht was murdered in Antigua the day after I left the island. Having a tourist murdered on a paid excursion though is a serious matter, and on islands with tourism based economies, I hope they realize this. There are many, many fine people in the islands, including St. Thomas, and I will be returning to them next winter; however, much like traveling in Miami, Houston, any big US city, local knowledge of problem areas and vigilance can help reduce the risk of being a victim.

  18. Anonymous

    I used to visit St. Thomas often and knew better than to go anywhere beyond the marina and Charlotte Amalie. There is plenty to do in this area and I did enjoy spending the day shopping on Main Street or just having lunch in one of the local restaurants. Just as I knew what areas should be avoided Cruise Ships should be honest with their passengers and insist that they stay within the tourist section. They have “shopping seminars” onboard. Why not have “safety seminars” too?

  19. april118

    This whole tragedy is so sad. We were married a year ago in St. Thomas while on carnival victory. We are booked again in February. Unfortunately these days you aren’t 100% safe anywhere you go but the government really needs to step up and get this under control before it gets any worse and it makes the innocent people of St. Thomas lose the cruise ship business which will have a severe impact on the economy.

  20. Phillip

    I recently visited St. Thomas for the first time in several years, and was appalled at the change. What was once an island paradise is now an over-commercialized rathole.

    This being said, I think people should realize that St. Thomas is no better or no worse than any other Caribbean island, or any other big city in the world where you have large numbers of poor and unemployed people. If you think that it is safe to go to ANY island, you are kidding yourself. Drugs, guns, gangs, etc. are all symptoms of a troubled economy, and jails alone are not the solution.

    A place like St. Thomas depends on tourism for its economy to function properly, and the recent downturns in Europe and the US have created problems for them. If tourists become afraid for their safety, then nobody will go to the island, causing even greater problems.

    More, not less, visits are part of the solution; although nothing would have prevented the tragic events that have created this situation, all that is necessary under normal circumstances is the same level of vigilance which would be applied in NY, LA, London, Paris, or HK. Be aware of your surroundings and act accordingly…

  21. Jeff

    Unfortunately this is nothing new. Even back in the early seventies crime was unimpeded by the local police. In fact, the U.S. Attorney on the island expressed to me that if the police are trained at all it is beyond their capabilities. I think it is only luck that more tourists have not been victimized.

    Personally I would not go on a ship that stops at St. Thomas.

  22. Perry

    While this news coming out of St. Thomas is somewhat surprising to me, are any of us truly shocked to learn of this? As several here have already stated, the cancer of violent crime has been long in the making, and is not limited to just St. Thomas or the U.S.V.I. by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, this has been going on for eons throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. As an avid cruiser with nearly 2 dozen voyages throughout the Caribbean dating back to my first experience on the QE II in 1973 as pre-teen, I can tell you that regardless of the Port of Call, one must ALWAYS be aware of one’s surroundings!

    My heart goes out to the family of this young girl, but holding an entire Island responsible for the wanton acts of a few violent criminals is just as horriffic to the otherwise beautiful, warm and kind people of St. Thomas. I happen to live in Orlando Florida. If any potential visitor were to check the daily news-casts of Greater-Orlando on any given day, they too would have second-thoughts about traveling outside the grounds of Disney, Sea World or Universal Studios; yet Orlando is indeed a very safe community. But just like Kingston Jamaica, San Juan Puerto Rico, Santa Marta Columbia, St. Georges Grenada, and parts of the Virgin Islands, crime not only exists, it unfortuately thrives. Before jumping overboard regarding St. Thomas, I think our community needs to hold ALL politicans of the United States (not just the Governor of the Virgin Islands) accountable for allowing this cancer to persist as long as it has. Poverty does not breed crime; lack of a family-structure, morals, fear of Law Enforcement and economic opportunity do. Sending cruise ships to other ports will not solve the problem of crime on St. Thomas, it will only exaserbate it. Cruiselines and we here on this Blog need to hold the politicans accountable both on the Islands and in Washington D.C. Then and only then can we have a relative security in knowing things will in fact improve.

    • Ruth

      Perry,
      I totally agree with your comment, Perry.

      We have been to St. Thomas on 3 or 4 cruises and our daughter was married in St. Thomas on one of those cruises. We have always had a wonderful time in St. Thomas and the area is so beautiful. I would hate to see the ships stop going there. We used to live in the suburbs of Chicago, and if you listen to the news and read the area papers, there is violence in the streets lately. If you read some of comments in this blog about the violence on St. Thomas, it doesn’t sound any different that any other city in the US or the world.
      I agree with most of you, not sailing to St. Thomas would hurt their economy and the good people of St. Thomas.

  23. Missy

    Good Afternoon:
    I live in St. Thomas. It is a joy to live here and while I have never had a moment of feeling unsafe, I try to follow common sense procedures that anyone would take who lived in an upscale urban area. The incident at Coki Point was a senseless tragedy, period. The conversation topic should be about enforcing strict gun control laws and keeping our young men busy and productive so they are not compelled to join in ‘gang’ type activity. Millions of visitors come to St. Thomas and enjoy the vacation of a lifetime, safely. By the way, if you limit yourself to the downtown area, you are missing so much more of our culture and the local flavor of meeting diverse and wonderful people. We’re simply heartbroken over that shooting. This is still paradise.

  24. Jenn

    I have never been to St. Thomas, but have been to Jamaica and the Bahamas where I can just about “sniff” violence in the air. It is a shame to pull business from kind and innocent citizens, but the cruise ships have to stop going to such places until the countries get their acts in order. Not good publicity for cruising when violence occurs.

  25. Peter

    I´m sorry for the family. Regarding the Island. For me St. Thomas NEVER was a wonderful island. I´ve been there for 4 times as cruiseships are always stopping there, but if I could avoid it would be fine for me. On my first visit my Snorkel equipment got stolen and I found really nothing I was dreaming of. A lot of duty free shops I never needed, overcrowded beaches. Yes still I found nice, friendly people, which now are the loosers because of that and which are not guilty. Unfortunately other islands are not better. On the Bahamas people tried to steal my watch, seems there are more problems on the islands then solutions so far. I hope the best for the honest people on St. Thomas, but still hope that I will not need to stop there again.

  26. Tom

    My grandfather lived there and I visited often. He moved because it had become more unsafe and violent. That was in the 70′s! I have been there since on a number of occassions and felt less safe each time. Families members were assaulted by local youth gangs last summer and there is a general sense of lawlessness. I would never go on a cruise there again. Many safer nicer places especially BVI. Cruise lines should boycott St. Thomas so someone takes notice and cleans up this sewer.

  27. Mr Bob

    One might choose to go elsewhere, but I would submit that right now and for the near future, St. Thomas is probably among the safest of the cruise stops. I feel sure that the authorities are tightening up law enforcement to try and overcome any negative repercussions of the recent incident. St Thomas cannot afford to lose the cruise and tourism business.

  28. I ceased visiting Aruba following the death of the high school student and seemingly lack of the island’s police due diligence. My family will now avoid St. Thomas until elected officials assume accountability and responsibility. It will only take a month for them to roundup and jail the culprits, if everyone will avoid the island. Their pocketbook is dependent upon tourists, which they seem to have forgotten.

  29. Sassy

    Add St. Thomas to the list of islands…….especially ARUBA!!!

  30. In truth the Caribbean is dangerous. The cruise lines drop unsuspecting passengers into areas such as they would never visit at home. These places are filled with poverty with the violence that results. I would say that St. Marteen & Barbados may be the exception. Cruise passengers, if they choose to disembark in Caribbean ports, need to be just as careful as if they were in the worst neighborhood they know back home.

  31. There have been so many really insightful responses to our blog post that we can’t single them all out. I will say, quickly, that JoAnn’s comment that the Caribbean is dangerous — is true. Yes, lots of places are dangerous. What makes certain places in the Caribbean, and this includes St. Thomas, more dangerous, is the fact that they’re tourist orientated, and when people are on vacation they want to let their guards down.

    That’s the conundrum of what happened this week in St. Thomas, what happened last year in Antigua (a Star Cruises passenger was killed while on an independent beach outing), etc.

    The challenge in writing this post in the first place is that, having lived on St. Thomas, I know that there are really wonderful, wonderful people who take their civic responsibilities very seriously. The folks who serve tourists — the same. It’s absolutely unfair that they should pay the price for crimes like this one.

    I’d hate to see what happened to St. Croix also happen to St. Thomas with regards to the tourist trade (more specifically, since we cover cruise, to the cruise industry). That’s a tragedy, too.

    CSB

  32. Linda

    I always felt safe in St. Thomas, but our Carnival ships always left before dark, which I think was a good idea now, after finding out about the high crime there which I did not know about until today.
    I love the Islands and will still go to St. Thomas,but Hawaii might be a safer option, or Florida. Florida could use our help for tourism,not all beaches have oil on them, and the Florida beaches are safe.
    Linda from Colorado.

  33. Hattie

    My father, (who is a construction engineer), built an aluminum plant in St. Croix in the early 70′s, and was really dismayed by the crime, and anti-white sentiment displayed by the native population in St. Croix. The restaurant that he and others frequented, was shot up by machine gun fire, and my father was lucky to have been absent that day….everyone was Very aware of the hostility, and rampant crime on the island, and my parents were very relieved to be done with his assignment, and, of course, will Never go back to St. Croix again!!!

    • Horrible story, Hattie! You know, St. Croix tried a comeback a few years ago — Disney signed on, which was a big deal, and I went there on a Seabourn trip. But it didn’t take.

      • Fran

        Hattie – there are more sides to this story. The time, the politics, the economics and the crime. A random act of violence resulted in great loss to those involved and the island at large. It is sad that as St. Croix has grown and developed, we are always reminded of what happened in the early 70′s. Truth be told, we are a friendly and accomodating people and visitors to our island are enjoying the serenity and beauty of the island. We still have open beaches and verdant valleys and hillsides that are breathtakingly beautiful. Our hearts go out to the family of the innocent who died in St. Thomas and to the family’s of the local men who have been caught up in this cycle of violence. All life is valuable.
        Fran

  34. chuck

    Ive been to st. thomas and most of the other islands, some several times. I occaisionally rent a car and travel around to see as much as i can. my heart goes out to the young lady that lost her life but no matter where you travel, you must be vigilant. lets face it, go to arizona and our own government has signs that say not to enter due to cartel drug smuggling and kidnaping. we actually let another country take over an 80 mile stretch of our country with violence. im leaving on a cruise for 10 days in october and will be, as always, vigilant, but will enjoy the vast number of good island people. i wonder if ill see any government warnings that another country has taken over a section of the island due to violence and corruption.

  35. hampton

    Back in the 70s and early 80s it was a pleasure to go to St. Thomas. In fact, I stayed thee for several months one winter and helped a friend who had a shop. I think the decline started the day “Doris Day” the donkey got mugged of all her hats. No more photos with the tourists. I always liked to spend an evening at Frenchman’s Reef. The taxis would no longer pick you up unless they knew you or you were a local resident. And so if you were on QE2 you had to be back on board early as she sailed at 6pm. The French side of St. Martin was getting sketchy with the drug boys downtown in the late 80s and you never left your hotel at night without an armed guard was on Antigua.Its the desperate poor from other islands who come on rafts in the middle of the night-just like in Florida or Spain. We should not punish the citizens of St Thomas but send in the troops like we do everywhere else and let the thugus know we mean business. And isn’t there some law that states that cruise ships leaving from Florida HAVE to stop in St. Thomas. My condolences to the family of the young lady’s family.

  36. Kim

    I’ve visited St. Thomas twice over the last 2-1/2 years; first time I vacationed there a week, and the last time was on a cruise. We rode on a ‘safari’ bus to Coki Beach (independently), and it’s unfortunate a criminal loser felt the need to shoot a gun, killing an innocent person who had nothing to do with their fight. The only way I’d stop visiting St. Thomas for good, is if many more crimes are reported on the island, in areas I plan to frequent. I’d hate to stop visiting the island, but there are many other Caribbean islands that don’t have such a crime problem.

    • chuck

      kim, i agree we all feel for the family’s loss and its a shame that st. thomas is going through some hard times and the violence from a small percentage of the people will make hard times worst for the mostly wonderful people of the island. the only thing kim is you need to do your homework as the other islands have the same problems. in fact, in april, i was in st. kitts when our cab driver had to make some quick decisssions to get us out of a road that was being shut down by police that were running around with assault rifles and handguns in hand conversing on a building. luckily, the cab driver got us out of there in a hurry. it can happen anywhere. we are heading on a 10 day cruise in october and we intend to enjoy the islands as always and just like here in our own neighborhoods, be aware of our surroundings and whats going on. Like they say, be vigilant!

  37. Local Resident

    THERE IS VIOLENCE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD…ST. THOMAS IS NO EXCEPTION. BUT ST. THOMAS IS STILL A NATURAL PARADISE..LOOK AT THE CITY YOU LIVE IN AND OPEN YOUR EYES TO REALITY..

  38. St. Croix

    FYI……St. Croix has NEVER been a popular cruise port. Cruise ships did stop coming to St. Croix due to a few incidents. However, the ships have come back. St. Croix has NEVER averaged more than 5 stops per week EVER, and it’s currently back to that level. Next time make sure that you know what you’re talking about before you speak about St. Croix.

  39. St. Croix

    FYI….for the past few years, crime on St. Thomas has been worst than on St. Croix. Check the statistics! Stop trying to portray St. Croix as a crime ridden island and do some fact checking, before any of you comment!

  40. Sam

    We had scheduled a family stay at Sapphire Beach, but had to cancel due to an airline pilot strike. We were quite bummed out about it, but trusted that God knows best. When I think of my 15 year old daughter, it really made me pause. I had already done some reading about other violent crimes in St. Thomas before. I will be following the news on the internet a bit more closely from now on.

  41. DEE

    Wow but they didn’t say the same for Aruba when that girl went missing and still haven’t found her body. Every place has had a rise in the crime rate. St. Thomas is not different from any state or any island; I agree it is very sad that a young person lost her life with this senseless violence and it took this to happen to get the national attention on the rise in the violence on this Island. But don’t make St. Thomas out to be like hell on earth. I’m sure that a lot you ya’ll in your own city, state, and town have to be just as careful when you are going places so why bad talk our island.

  42. VI Working Girl

    As I read this, I feel the need to say something on behalf of St. Thomas. First of all, contrary to the overall tone on this page–not every St. Thomas resident is a criminal ready to victimize every tourist that comes to the island. There are hardworking, decent people living on St. Thomas who are ALSO victims of the rampant crime wave that is unfortunately becoming common place. Although the news media down plays this aspect of last Monday’s shooting, there was also an 18 year old Virgin Islander killed. Thus, two families were irrevocably changed that day. Where is the compassion for the family of the St. Thomas man? Where is the compassion for the people of St. Thomas who have to live with the escalating violence every day? As others on this page have pointed out, there is crime all over the world and just because the Virgin Islands is marketed as “paradise” does not mean that it is immune to the very same issues that affect areas of the World.

    • chuck

      truer words never spoken. violence is everywhere the only difference is the news media ignores what happens on the islands. i have met many good people on the islands and continue to go as im going on a 10 day in october and im vigilant the same as i am in my own neighborhood. sure its nearly crime free but it could change at any time.

  43. Heartbroken

    The majority of my family live in the Virgin Island…St. John to be exact…I was shocked when my son called me and told me that one of our relative was shot as well as a tourist girl..After reading this blog, I was almost in tears, my heart goes out to the family that lost their child, my family member that lost a son, as well to the many people of the Island that will sufer from this senseless crime. I live in the suburbs of a city that has a very high crime rate as well…These gangs are the rodents of our communities that needs to be exterminated!!

  44. David

    I also feel badly for the family’s involved in the shooting but must confess that crime in St Thomas has been bad for many years. I have beeen sailing there for over 25 years and have always felt uneasy in many areas. The only ports I am more concerned about personal saftey are the ports in Jamacia. I no longer sail the Caribbean as much, but truly something needs to be done about St Thomas.

  45. Dimitri

    I’ve been vacationing in St. Thomas for many years, spending several weeks there at at time. On June 29 we got to Tutu Park Mall to see a crowd gathered around — apparently someone had just been killed outside the K-Mart. A few days later we heard about the horrible tragedy at Coki Point. The only incident we had been personally involved in before that was when our valuables were stolen at Lindquist Beach — but then again, that deserted area area is well known for theft, and it was our own fault for going there.

    With that said, St. Thomas remains a beautiful gem of an island and one of my favorite spots in the world. I’ve never felt unsafe in any of the tourist areas of St. Thomas, and I think comparisons to Jamaica are completely unfair — in Jamaica, you literally have to watch your back 24/7, tourist area or not. The incident in Coki Point was a tragic aberration, and could have happened anywhere.

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