22 cruise ship passengers robbed in Mexico

(CBS News) -- When the Carnival Splendor docked at Long Beach this weekend, passengers got off with a memorable, if unpleasant, vacation story: an encounter with a masked gunman.

Twenty-two passengers, who left the ship to hike a nature trail were robbed. No one was hurt.

Passenger Ladean Hilgenberg described the incident, "He said in Spanish, he wanted everything they had. This one fellow pulled his money out of his wallet, and he said, 'No, I want everything - backpacks and all.'"

The passengers were robbed of whatever they had on them, Kate Berry-Shoaf said. "Passports, cash, whatever was in their backpacks."

Judy Fronk said the robber also threatened the passengers with another weapon. He "pulled up his shirt to show the knife.

When the gunman wasn't looking Fronk took his picture. "I was really scared to be honest with you," Fronk said. "But at the same time, I was a little angry. Because we were just out minding our business, enjoying the day."

In a statement, the cruise line said, "Carnival sincerely apologizes to its guests for this very unfortunate and disturbing event."

Carnival also owns Costa Cruise Lines and is still recovering from the sinking of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy which killed 32 passengers.

Mexico has an image problem too. It has recently been combating worries about visitor safety with a series of commercials featuring enthusiastic returning tourists.

Mexico is expecting "52 million tourists this year," CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg said. "That number has not gone down it's gone up."

"But keep in mind," Greenberg said, "If you actually look at the incidents the number of incidents that have happened, the overwhelming statistics, the numbers are definitely in passengers' favor. It's not a problem for most Americans going to Mexico."

"In an issue like this, the liability goes right to the cruise line," Greenberg added. "Simply because while they sell the short excursions directly to their passengers, then they subcontract out to local tour operators. The liability still lies with the cruise ship. I'd be very surprised if they didn't put at least one security person on every bus at least on a short excursion."


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