Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Carnival cruise robbery victim: 'Is he going to shoot us all?'

February 28, 2012 |  1:10 pm

Victims talk of robbery on Carnival cruise tourl

Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board response to robbery The Carnival cruise guests who were robbed last week were accosted by a single masked gunman in a remote area off a main trail as they were headed to a hike in the jungle, according to interviews and tourism officials.

The group of 22 cruise passengers had signed up for a “City and Tropical Jungle Escape” when the bus pulled over Thursday evening and the passengers were told to leave the bus and get on a "tiny, little" trail, Linda Givant, one of the robbery victims, told  KTXL-TV Fox 40 in Sacramento.

“I started feeling really uneasy,” Givant told the TV station. “I see this man who is wearing a bandanna, sunglasses and a baseball hat. That’s kind of all I really initially saw. That and the gun in his hand.”

Read the document: Puerto Vallarta tourism board statement

She continued: “My first thought was, is he going to shoot us all?”

Children as young as 6 years old were on the tour. After the suspect took valuables, the tourists were told to run and get out of the jungle, and they fled back to the bus, the TV station said.

Gustavo Rivas, a New York-based spokesman for the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board, confirmed to The Times that there was only one gunman, not more than one, as local media initially reported.

“This is an extremely rare incident,” the tourism board said in a statement, adding that tourism leaders were cooperating with police and the district attorney’s office in the investigation.

Rivas said the tour operator did not follow the rules. The group was robbed on the jungle trail at 5 p.m. even though they are only supposed to be brought into the wilderness in the morning. The tour operator was also faulted for having no security to escort the group.

“It was very late for what normally we do in Puerto Vallarta. Tours normally go out at 9 o’clock in the morning at the latest. This was very not normal,” Rivas said.

Rivas said the tour guide took the group into a location they were not supposed to be in -- a remote area not on the official main trail on the way to the pueblo of El Nogalito, known for its jungle canopy, and sights of wildlife like iguanas.

Rivas said the tour guide was employed by a reputable tour guide firm. Carnival has suspended the jungle tour for the time being, and an investigation is still pending.

Rivas sought to assure tourists that Puerto Vallarta is safe. Puerto Vallarta is not on the list of areas where the U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings because of the ongoing violent drug war.


22 Carnival Splendor cruise ship passengers robbed in Mexico

Mexico: Numbers put safety issues in perspective, officials say

Puerto Vallarta tourism board calls robbery of cruise ship passengers 'extremely rare'

-- Rong-Gong Lin II

Photo: The Carnival Splendor. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times