Tips for a Safe Cruise Vacation

Pickpocket robbing tourist
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A cruise ship is one of the safest places you can take a vacation. No one sets out to become a crime victim, but it can happen to anyone. There are steps you can take to lower your risk of being a crime statistic when you travel.

Before You Leave Home

Make copies of your passport, driver's license, credit cards, wallet contents, and travel documents (plane tickets, etc). You also should make a copy of the credit card "lost or stolen" notification phone numbers to include with this package. Leave one set of copies at home with a trusted friend or family member, and take the other set with you, packed separately from the originals. Many cruise ships will hold your passport to expedite clearing the ship in foreign ports. Therefore, you should make a couple of extra copies of your passport to use to take ashore.

Buy an under-the-clothing money bag and use it. These can be quite comfortable and will thwart "cut and run" thieves who have been known to cut purse straps or waist packs right off their victims.

Packing Your Luggage

Make a list of everything you put in your luggage, and take pictures of it while packing in case of loss. Pack medications, eyeglasses, and valuables in a carry-on bag. (Better yet, don't take valuables like expensive jewelry with you on the cruise.) Although you need to put external (and internal) tags on your luggage, don't list your full home address on the outside. This is a signal to expert thieves that you won't be home for a week! You really don't want to advertise to everyone at the airport where you live.

Make sure your luggage is in good shape before leaving home. You want luggage that will not pop open at an inopportune time. Consider using an extra band, airport plastic wrap, or duct tape to help secure your bags. You can buy self-locking plastic tags from travel or home improvement stores for about a dollar. These work well on zippered bags.

In Your Cabin

When you first get to your cabin, check the bathroom and closet while the cabin door is still open. Use the same precautions that you would when entering a hotel room. While a ship is in port, many more people have access to it than you might imagine. Being cautious never hurt anyone. Don't leave valuables lying around in your cabin. Put your wallet and valuables in the cabin's safe or the purser's safe. Be sure to use all the locks on the door when you are asleep. Don't open the door to strangers.

Protect your cabin key and cabin number.

On the Ship

Although cruise ships are relatively safe, common sense is needed even at sea. Stay in the public areas, and remember that a cruise ship and its crew and passengers are like a small city, not like your family.

If you are cruising with your children, set rules just like at home. Establish curfews for your teenagers, and caution them to not accompany crew members to non-public areas. Don't give your children "the run of the ship" while you are in the club, show, or casino.

While in Port

If you are going to be a crime victim while on a cruise, it is most likely to occur when you are ashore. Most crimes committed against cruise passengers are those of opportunity. Don't put your wallet in a pocket or a backpack. If you carry a backpack, be sure to carry it on your front when in crowded areas (like buses, subways, trains, elevators, or busy streets).

You can't put your camera inside your clothing and have it ready to snap that special picture. Keep it in a bag or hold on to it tightly.

Security Onboard

Passenger cruise lines exist to provide a safe, relaxing and enjoyable vacation experience for the cruise passenger. In order to do so, security needs to be sufficient to fully address the potential security challenges of the particular itinerary, without being so conspicuous as to cause concern to the passengers. Good cruise ship security is almost transparent and quietly effective. The goal of the cruise security professional is to create a secure environment that allows the passengers to enjoy their vacation experience without any concerns about their security.

In these days of terrorism and piracy, cruise lines are working even harder to protect their passengers, crew, and ships. Governments have partnered with the cruise lines to increase security in port. Passengers can do their part by being more vigilant, but you are still much more likely to be the victim of a crime than of a terrorist attack. Be alert, protect your belongings, and have a safe cruise vacation!