Accidents & Other Crimes

Andreas Westby

December 9, 2009

There were fourteen of us – eight Americans, two Germans, and four Norwegians. We made up seven couples who purchased a shore excursion to tour the Waterfall at Anse La Raye. None of us were very impressed with the waterfall, and so we found ourselves anxious to get back to the ship. Our guide took his time getting us back to the car – making calls on his cell phone, and stopping to show us how to open a coconut.

When we finally got back to the car, I decided to have a talk with the driver while everyone else got inside of the car. I went to get a drink of water, and that was when I saw a man with a black mask get in front of the car. My initial thought was that perhaps it was a dramatic skit arranged by the cruise line. But then the masked man grabbed one of the American women from our group. He was armed with a gun and a knife. The woman screamed, and we quickly understood that this was no joke.

As the man held the knife at the woman’s neck, he tore off her necklaces and screamed for money. The woman’s husband tried to help, but the masked man threatened him with the knife. Since I was standing next to the driver, I tried to hide my cameras between us, and then I heard my wife scream and the American man called out to the woman, “Let them have it. They are going to kill you!” But she would not let him have her necklace.

I ran to assist her, but was stopped by three more of these bandits. By then, they had taken my wife’s necklace and the money she had in her purse. Another bandit got out of the jeep and helped the others empty my pockets. They took my gold chain, my Rolex watch, and one of my cameras, a Nikon. Then one of the men discovered that I had two gold rings – my wedding ring and a seal ring. They demanded that I take off the rings. If I didn’t, he said he would cut off my finger. I did as he said, but then I threw the rings up onto the Jeep. He got very mad. At this point, things could have gone very badly for me, but then, for the first time, the guide called out: “That’s enough boys! That’s enough.” The driver of the Jeep called out too, saying, “Don’t hurt them.” And then the bandits disappeared.

We drove directly to the police station and made a full report. All fourteen of us had to make a signed statement. After three hours in the heat, we had to call back to the ship and ask to be picked up. We were told that this kind of things had never happened before.

On the way back to the ship, we asked the guide if he had lost anything at the armed robbery. “No,” he said, “they never touch drivers and guides.” How could he know that to be true if this was, indeed the first time that an armed robbery had taken place at St.Lucia? Later on, when I was back in Norway, I found out that St. Lucia in fact, has a lot of crime, and that armed robberies actually are a problem there.

It is 100% the ship’s responsibility since they did not give us any warning about crime in the Caribbean. There were several robberies there last year.

Who knew that we were at this special place on St.Lucia? Who knew that we had gold around our neck? Not one, but everyone. Not ordinary watches, but golden ones and Rolex.

We had stopped at two places on the trip to the Waterfall. We bought souvenirs, and that must have been where we revealed we had money and gold items. The driver, the guide, and the ship’s officers who arranged the tour – they knew. The bandits knew when we were at the right spot at the right time. Who was helping them?

We were lucky no one was hurt. We left Anse La Raye alive. But this is a very bad memory we will always be with us. In my opinion, the blame falls on the crew of the Norwegian Dawn who are responsible for selling shore excursions and tours.

Some newspapers in St.Lucia stated that the guide claimed to be the only one who had been slightly injured. But that is nonsense. I asked the officers on the Norwegian Dawn if they had warned other cruise ships docking at St. Lucia about the dangers of armed robbery. The answer was “no.”

That makes one thing very clear to me: These incidents are bad for the cruise line industry, and the best they can do is keep it a secret. “Do not tell anyone.” Tourism is called the “lifeblood” of St.Lucia. Better to sacrifice some tourists – and keep your mouths shut.

That’s what happened.