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Cruise Diva's FOCUS is on 
Cruise Travel Safety & Security

Safety & Security in Ports of Call

Getting away from it all isn't supposed to mean getting into trouble. One advantage of cruise travel is the safety aspectthere is very little crime on board most ships.

Unaware of local customs and dangers, tourists are attractive targets for scam artists and petty thieves.

However, all too often passengers are lulled into a false sense of security by the cocoon-like atmosphere of their vessel. The port cities they anticipate with such enthusiasm can sometimes be intimidating, if not downright unfriendly, places.

Whether it's hair-braiders in Jamaica or gypsies in Barcelona, your first line of defense is preparedness. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with it, not to mention using common sense, should save you a lot of grief. Unaware of local customs and dangers, tourists are attractive targets for scam artists and petty thieves. With their friendly and trusting natures, Americans are particularly vulnerable. This is especially true overseas where tourists' attention is riveted on the sights they've come so far to see. Often they do not even notice the stranger who brushed by them and, incidentally, just emptied their pockets.

Fear of the unknown shouldn't discourage anyone from traveling. It's that very unknown that is most appealing. So, how can you accomplish both objectives -- travel abroad and remain safe? Planning and awareness are primary.

Some things to consider:

  • Make two copies of your passport, driver's license, and credit cards before leaving home. Leave one set of copies in a safe place on your ship. If the ship's purser holds your passport (which is often the case, to expedite clearing the ship in foreign ports), carry the passport copy ashore with you. Leave the other copies with a friend or family member at home.
  • Use an under-the-clothing style money pouch. Waist packs and handbags are prime targets for cut and run thieves (who cut the strap and disappear into the crowd).
  • Don't carry valuables in your waist pack, but do thread the strap through your belt loops.
  • Carry a handbag with a shoulder strap across your body and keep it in front of you.
  • The handsome local offering to exchange your dollars at a better than market rate is probably a hustler.
  • Never leave your camera or tote bag on a chair in a restaurant. Keep valuables on your lap.
  • Wearing expensive jewelry and flashing a wad of money is an invitation to pickpockets.
  • Men should carry wallets in their front pockets and divide their money, keeping a little in each pocket. In fact, why carry a wallet in your pocket at all if you don't have to? Far preferable is a wallet that attaches to your belt and tucks inside your slacks.
  • Don't use an ATM in a dark or deserted area, particularly if there are obvious loiterers nearby.

Dress to blend in, not stand out. While my favorite pastel polo-style knit dresses were comfortable for sight-seeing in the Mediterranean, they stood out and identified me as an American woman in Europe. Subdued colors and styles are preferable. Experienced travelers recommend clothing and accessories by TravelSmith Outfitters, a catalog merchant specializing in garments with hidden pockets and such items as waist packs with metal cable in the strap to discourage cutting.

Safety is often found in numbers, and it's never a good idea to venture into some unfamiliar areas on your own. Evaluate your own comfort level regarding shore excursions versus independent touring. If you do your homework and educate yourself about your destination, it's possible to explore your ports of call safely and with confidence.

Back to Cruise Diva's FOCUS on Safety & Security

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