In a statement, Celebrity Cruises said there were 16 adult passengers and one child on the bus. It said no one was physically harmed, and all of the guests are safely back on the ship, being offered support by the crew.
An Associated Press report said the masked gunmen escaped with the passengers' jewelry, cameras and money.
At the time of the robbery, the passengers were traveling to the Brimstone Hill Fortress, a well-visited UNESCO World Heritage Site on St. Kitts. A press person providing information on behalf of St. Kitts tourism tells Cruise Critic that the bandits "put a tree across the road to block the bus." When the bus driver got out to move the tree, two men emerged from bushes and robbed the tourists.
The robbers ran off into the woods, and a manhunt is underway.
Celebrity has confirmed that the passengers were on a ship-sponsored shore tour called "Essential St. Kitts," and that the excursion has been canceled indefinitely, pending the outcome of an investigation. Celebrity ships will still dock at St. Kitts.
"We will work closely with law enforcement and government officials, which are taking steps to ensure the safety of everyone in St. Kitts, including visitors," Celebrity said in a statement. A spokesperson for the line told Cruise Criticthat "Law enforcement in St. Kitts will be posting extra security on the road where the incident took place."
A police statement called the crime against tourists unprecedented. "Last year, over five hundred thousand cruise passengers safely disembarked in St. Kitts to enjoy the many attractions of our island," it read. "We deeply regret any type of incident that might tarnish our visitors' experience. As law enforcement authorities, we are committed to root out and expose the persons responsible."
However, another report on SKNVibes, a local news site in St. Kitts, quotes a local taxi operator as saying security needs to be boosted in certain areas on the island during the tourist seasons.
Celebrity Mercury is in the midst of a 12-night Caribbean cruise out of Baltimore.
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