10 Cruising Safety Tips What NOT to do on a Cruise
How to Stay Safe at a Cruise Port
Taking a cruise allows you to see different cities in new parts of the world and go on relaxing or adventurous excursions that you might not otherwise get to do. New places come with new risks, though, which is why it is important to take action to keep yourself and your traveling companions safe while you are in port. To keep yourself safe, check security risks, book trustworthy excursions, travel in groups, stay aware of your surroundings, and always make it back to the ship in time.
Getting Ready Before You Arrive
Check security threats before you book.One of the best ways to make sure you stay safe at a port of call is to avoid going to any truly dangerous ports. Before you book a cruise, look over its itinerary and check with both your nation and the port’s home nation to see if any threats are listed.
- Departments or Ministries of State often issue travel warnings and alerts for international destinations. Call or check online with the appropriate government agency in your country to see if they have listed any warnings for any of your intended ports.
- Check with appropriate agency in the port’s home nation, as well, to see if they have issued any local warnings regarding the area.
Pack appropriately.Part of staying safe in a cruise port is ensuring you are not an easy-to-spot target. Avoid packing items such as Hawaiian shirts, fanny packs, socks to be worn with sandals, baseball caps, and other pieces that will make you stand out from the crowd as a tourist.
- Take a look at current fashion and clothing trends in the areas you will visit. Find copies of local magazines online or look through photos on blogs and in newspapers. You don’t need to look like a high fashion local. Simply get a sense of what would look obviously uncommon in the region.
- Instead of carrying a fanny pack, a bag with a wide opening, or a backpack, opt for investing in an anti-theft bag, which is slash proof and often much more inconspicuous.
Book excursions through your cruise line.If you plan on doing a shore excursion or tour while you’re in the port, book through your cruise line rather than finding an independent tour group. Cruise lines thoroughly vet their tour operators and keep records of their licenses and insurance.
- If there is a type of tour or excursion that you want to do but that is not listed as one of your shore excursion options, talk to your cruise director. They may have recommendations on trustworthy local tour companies.
- If you insist on booking with an independent tour guide, ask for copies of their licensing and insurance before you book. If they refuse to provide such, do not book with them.
Leave your valuables at home.Perceived wealth can greatly impact who petty thieves target. Leave valuable items such as tablets, computers, jewelry, expensive DSLR cameras, and designer clothing or accessories at home. If you must take certain items with you, lock them in a safe in your cabin and do not bring them with you on shore.
- Many people opt to use a fake wedding ring when traveling. This way, should the fake get stolen or damaged, the original is still safe.
- If you are taking an international cruise, consider getting a cheap burner phone with an international SIM card and/or data plan rather than bringing your smartphone.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and multiple credit cards into port. Take one or two cards and/or a small sum of cash, and leave the rest locked in your room’s safe.
Disembarking in Port
Find a buddy.A single traveler is an easy target for theft and crime while on shore. Always stick with at least one other traveler while you are away from the ship. If you are not traveling with another person, book group tours or excursions.
- Having a travel partner is especially important for women in international ports to avoid sexual harassment and assault, as while it can happen to any person of any sex, it is most highly reported amongst women.
Ignore distractions.If someone comes up to you while you are leaving the ship or around town asking you for help or trying to sell you something, ignore them. This is a common tactic for pickpockets. While one person has your attention, another will come up behind you and try to sneak away your wallet or valuables.
- This goes for children as well as adults, especially in areas with major income disparities like Brazil or India. Children are often made by others to work as anything from petty thieves to violent thieves.
- If you notice someone trying intently to distract you, cover your pockets, keep a tight hand on your bag, and walk quickly away to a nearby, highly populated area.
Stay alert.Regardless of whether you are going to be in a port for two hours or two days, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Try to avoid intoxication while in port, and watch and listen closely to the activity around you.
- Petty thieves are generally active in tourist areas and around high-profile attractions such as monuments and museums. Stay alert and keep your valuables close to your body in these areas.
- Always wear your bag across your body from shoulder to hip and keep your bag toward the front of your body where you can always keep an eye on it.
Stay on main streets.Avoid going through back streets, alleys, poorly lit areas, and areas with few people in them. Instead, stay on main roads, well-lit streets, and streets that have people actively walking up and down along side them.
- Back streets are an easy place to single out a tourist, especially for violent crime purposes. They are rarely actively monitored, and thus pose a large safety risk.
- If there is something you genuinely want to check out in an out-of-the-way place, such as hidden bar or restaurant, go with a large group and see if you can arrange a guide who speaks the local language to get you there.
Taking Additional Steps Toward Safety
Invest in travel insurance.Travel insurance can cover any number of mishaps from medical expenses to trip interruptions. Compare travel insurance plans available in your area online or call your current insurance companies to see if they offer travel insurance plans.
- Take a look at what the insurance covers. For safety in port, you want insurance that covers medical expenses as well as lost or stolen goods.
- If you do not understand what level of coverage you’re getting based on the policy information, call the insurance company and ask, “Can you explain to me in plain terms the coverage this plan would offer?”
Bank on the boat.Many cruise ships have ATMs onboard, and it is advisable to use them even if they charge higher fees. ATMs onboard the ship are generally checked frequently for skimmers and scanners, and are often more safe than the ones you will find in port.
- If you absolutely have to use an ATM while in port, only use one located in or directly outside of bank, and check for loose scanners and keypads before dipping your card.
Always set an alarm.The ship is not going to wait for you if you are running late coming back from the port. Set an alarm or carry a watch to make sure that you make it back to the ship on time and avoid getting stranded in unfamiliar and potentially dangerous locations.
- Keep the phone number for the cruise line’s customer service line with you at all times. If an unforeseen circumstance causes you to miss your ship, call immediately and request help.
- If there is ever a situation where you feel unsafe, even if it’s on a tour you paid for, let someone know or otherwise leave the situation.
- The ship’s crew have likely sailed in and out of the area multiple times before. Ask them for tips about where you can safely go and still have a good time.
Video: Are large cruise ships safe?
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