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22 cruise ship passengers mugged return home

Masked bandits rob vacationers on tour bus near Puerto Vallarta.

carnival splendor robbedEnlarge
Masked gunmen robbed passengers from the Carnival Splendor during a day trip near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. (Kevork Djansezian/AFP/Getty Images)

Twenty-two cruise ship passengers robbed during a day trip near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, returned home today – without their cameras, money and passports.

Masked gunmen stopped a bus carrying Carnival Splendor passengers returning from a hike near El Nogalito, CNN said.

The incident happened about 5 p.m. on Thursday.

“Carnival is working with guests to reimburse them for lost valuables and assist with lost passports or other forms of identification,” a company press release said.

The cruise line said it would no longer offer tours to El Nogalito, but Mexican media said the cruise line faces criticism over how it handles the tours.

Puerto Vallarta Mayor Salvador Gonzalez Resendiz said such tours should only be offered in the mornings under armed guard, the Los Angeles Times said.

One travel expert said the robbery is a new worry for Mexican tourism officials. The country’s image is under siege in the midst of a drug war.

“They basically targeted a group of people, not individuals, that were being escorted,” CBS travel editor Peter Greenberg said. “So this is highly unusual. Normally the kind of street crime that happens in any major city is directed against individuals traveling on their own. Not necessarily in large groups, certainly not on a bus.”

The cruise ship left California on Feb. 19 on a seven-day voyage. The incident happens two weeks after the US State Department issued a travel advisory for parts of Mexico, including the state of Jalisco where Puerto Vallarta is located.

CNN said that since Mexico’s crackdown on drugs began in 2006, more than 47,500 people have died in gang-related violence.

It's also more bad news for the Carnival Splendor. Two years ago, an engine fire stranded passengers aboard the dark, cold, powerless ship for four days. By the end, all they had to eat was canned meat and hot dogs, the LA Times said.

The Times also said many cruise lines are eliminating or reducing times at Mexican ports of call.

More from GlobalPost: Israeli-American owners of Carnival Cruises lose half a billion on Italy shipwreck

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120226/22-cruise-ship-passengers-mugged-return-home