CruiseMates Newsletter
 
Squeeze More Everything into your Carnival Vacation
Bring the whole gang on any Carnival Cruise and get ready for some serious fun. Because almost everything is included, like comfy accommodations, jaw-dropping destinations, delicious dining options, live entertainment, and so much more.
Book your Carnival function


Allure of the Seas CruiseMates Cruise from $779
We have the best prices on Allure we have seen yet: Central Park view from $949. $100 shipboard credit. Join our group cruise.

Norwegian Epic CruiseMates Cruise from $599
A Cruisemates group cruise with Chef Matt Sigel of the popular series Hell's Kitchen. Norwegian Epic 10-30-10

kiplingers

Kiplinger's Magazine named CruiseMates to its Top 25 Best Value Travel Sites

CruiseMates is the most useful cruise-review site. We especially like its advice columns, which are written for people of different ages and interests.

WHERE THE BARGAINS ARE

Last Minute Deals Looking for a deal? Check America's Vacation Center's last-minute cruise offers! Click for Details!

Other HOT Deals...
  • from $359
    7-night Carnival Valor roundtrip Miami to Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize and Cozumel.
  • $200 credit
    The New Cruise Ships Are Coming! ALLURE, OASIS, EPIC, SILHOUETTE! UNBELIEVABLE Offers!
  • from $499
    7-Night USA and Canada Cruise New York to Halifax, Prince Edward Island (Canada), Newfoundland and ending in Quebec.

We want your cruise reviews!
CruiseMates started publishing our readers' cruise reviews long before other web sites even thought of it. We already have thousands of reviews online, but there are never enough! CruiseMates and our sister site cruisereviews.com both want more of YOUR cruise reviews. So, please send them to us:


 
07.15.2010
Coki Beach is next to the very popular Coral World in St. Thomas

Death in Coki Beach
The cruise industry is abuzz about a horrible crime-related accident that occurred earlier this week. A young woman of only fourteen years was fatally shot while on a shore excursion she purchased onboard Carnival Victory. She was on an open air bus on the most popular island for cruise ships in the Caribbean, possibly in the world, St. Thomas U.S.V.I.

The only thing accidental about her untimely death is that she was not the intended victim; somehow the bus happened to get caught in the crossfire of a domestic gunfight apparently between two rival gangs on the island. The intended victim was also shot, and the alleged murderer is now in custody and charged with two counts of first degree murder. Another Carnival passenger was also injured in the gunfire, according to Carnival.

The victim, Lizmarie Perez Chaparro, was on the cruise to celebrate her 15th birthday, which sadly she never saw.


Norwegian Cruise Line's 7-day Caribbean from $699. Visit ncl.com to book your cruise today.
Book now at ncl.com

St. Thomas can host as many as five or six ships on a given day, especially during the middle of the week when ships on seven-day cruises leave from Florida ports on the weekend. I am not sure why St. Thomas is so popular since there is not really much to do there beyond shopping, but it is found on the itinarary of every ship going to the Caribbean.

Coki Beach has been one of my favorite places to visit in St. Thomas since my first cruise to the island in 1983. I have even recommended this beach many times, solely because it is also the site of the popular tourist attraction Coral World - where for $19 one can see all kinds of Caribbean sea life. There are marinas with sharks and sea turtles, plus black light exhibits of jellyfish and other exotic Caribbean sea creatures you would otherwise never see. Coral World even includes an underwater structure with glass windows to look out on a live coral reef. It's like snorkeling without getting wet.

Coral World even offers swimming with sea lions, a "shark encounter" and "Snuba diving," an apparatus that allows you to breathe underwater and even walk along the sea floor by wearing heavy weights and a helmet connected to air tubes from above.

I have also done a little swimming at the beach next door to Coral World, Coki Beach. There is a stand there that rents snorkel gear like masks and fins for very reasonable prices. Or if you forgot your bathing suit you can buy one there for a little money and change into it. It is a quiet, calm beach on a beautiful curved inlet.

Of course Coki Beach is the name of the beach, but it is also the name of the surrounding neighborhood where the gunfight occurred. How close to the beach it occurred I cannot say, but if this incident means the end of Coral World it will be sad for me. I have many fond memories of that place.

The brand new Norwegian Epic, making its first call to St. Thomas, cancelled all shore excursions going through the Coki Beach area and also offered refunds to any passengers who chose not to go on any shore tour on St. Thomas. Of course, Coki Beach is at the end of a long arm of the island of St. Thomas, so it is safe to say the tours that were cancelled were those going to Coral World. There are other popular beaches on St. Thomas, such as Magen's Bay, but Coki Beach has Coral World, and is otherwise far quieter and set in a beautiful inlet.


Squeeze more everything into your vacation
Bring the whole gang on any Carnival Cruise and get ready for some serious fun. Because almost everything is included, like comfy accommodations, jaw-dropping destinations, delicious dining options, live entertainment, and so much more.
Offer Details >Book your Carnival function

I suppose Coral World will go on, but people will have to get there in regular cars from now on. The open air tropical buses that are such a part of the St. Thomas experience will probably no longer be allowed to traverse that particular neighborhood.

St Thomas is a United States territory, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands along with St. Johns and St. Croix. Of these three islands, St. Johns is mostly a non-populated (4000 people) national park while St. Croix is a more populated island but largely bereft of tourism. St Thomas' largest city, Charlotte Amalie, is the capital of the island group.

This is not the first crime involving cruise ship visitors in St. Thomas. Visiting cruise ships dock in a gated area appropriately named Havensight Pier where several pre-approved souvenir stores reside in a large concentration of strip malls with armed security guards.

The downtown area of Charlotte Amalie is about a 30 minute walk from Havensight, or one can take an open air bus for $5. In fact, several people have been robbed on this simple walk from the pier to downtown Charlotte Amalie over the years, yet little has been done to develop the area to make it safer.

I am sure Coral World itself is safe, but I very sorry to hear Coki Beach is in a bad neighborhood, and even sorrier for the victim and her family. Probably the only reasonable solution to improve safety and comfort for future travelers would be the privatization of the beach by selling it to some kind of developer.

Care to discuss this topic in our forums? Cruise ship passenger visiting St. Thomas killed during gang shootout.

Care to discuss this topic in our forums? Cruise ship passenger visiting St. Thomas killed during gang shootout.

gray hr

new feature articles

New Ships; And Why Smart Cruisers Might Want to Avoid Their Inaugural Seasons
As cruise enthusiasts, and also cruise travel writers, itís somewhat natural that we wait with baited-breath, or any trickle of news and/or pictures blue arrows

Norwegian Epic 7-day Cruises
Somehow I feel this ship should just sail 7-day cruises to nowhere so you can experience all of the fun activities onboard. blue arrows

Live From Carnival Elation
Join CruiseReviews editor David Beers reporting from Carnival Elation sailing from Mobile AB. Oil Spill, drive-to cruising and other hot cruise topics! blue arrows

Norwegian Epic: Singles Cruising has Arrived
Serendipity or just plain luck? Whatever you call it, NCL has created the best cruise ship ever for solo cruisers. blue arrows

Changing the Death on the High Seas Act
The U.S. House of Representatives already passed changes to the DOHSA by a mere voice vote. blue arrows

gray hr

Read about CruiseMates

NEW YORK TIMES:
"Many sites that offer reviews are selling cruises, which raises questions about impartiality. An exceptions is CruiseMates."

FORTUNE MAGAZINE:
"The Web's best site for articles, advice, or chatting with Cruise People. Self-financed and run independently of the industry, so their opinions are impartial"



NEW CRUISEMATES CRUISES!

Chef Matt Sigel's Cruise with CruiseMates
Join Chef Matt Sigel's on Norwegian Epic, Halloween Cruise, Oct 30, 2010 Travel from Miami to Costa Maya, Roatan Honduras and Cozumel - 7-days

Let's Get Lei'd 5.0
We're doing yet again - for the fifth time (because these cruises do so well) - We are going to Hawaii on a Princess ship, this time the mega-Sapphire Princess. We sail from Los Angeles and return to the same. Eight days at sea and five beautiful ports of call - four of them in Hawaii, plus Ensenada. February 26, 2011.

Allure of the Seas
Join your CruiseMates on the newest world's biggest cruise ship on October 2nd, 2011, on the sister ship to Oasis of the Seas slated to debut in early December of 2010. We have great prices and plenty of onboard fun in store for you!