When it comes to staying safe ashore most challenging situations are often averted by using basic common sense. No matter where you go in the world sadly, there is crime to a degree and we must all remain vigilant even in the most stunning and peaceful of destinations.
As cruise passengers we are already at a dis-advantage to an extent. After all we arrive into the local towns and cities via a giant white ship that screams out to the locals ‘we are wealthy tourists’. 99% of the time cruise passengers have no problems and enjoy countless days ashore for many years without any issues but, it never hurts to always remember the basics to ensure your port experiences forever remain problem and crime free.
1: Ladies, always use a cross body (messenger) style bag. Try to avoid taking a bag ashore with you that you carry in your hand unless it is simply filled with towels and sun cream for a day at the beach. Using a cross body style of bag will always deter a spur of the moment thief!
2: Try to avoid using a wallet or purse. I tend to keep my currency and bank cards within a zipped compartment inside my bag or to the rear of my bag closest to my body. A pick-pocket that manages to open your bag and can’t easily locate a wallet is sure to move along quite swiftly to avoid being detected. Also NEVER put currency or your wallet in the back pocket of your jeans or shorts. Where possible it is also a good idea to keep a separate small amount of cash in your pocket or in another hidden compartment. This means in cases of theft or losing your other currency you still have a small amount of cash to at least pay for a cab back to the ship.
3: Never go ashore wearing the crown jewels! Not only does it make you stand out, I doubt very much that you really need to wear the platinum or the gold to go swimming or sightseeing. Save that for the safety of the ship.
4: Never use an un-licensed taxi driver. If you decide to venture off on your own always use a fully accredited service and check for badges and a photo I.D. If you can, always try and research this before you leave on your cruise.
5: If something makes you feel uncomfortable or vulnerable then abandon it. This could be as simple as walking down a particular street or haggling for a discount on a cab fare or day trip. Go with your gut instinct, always! My friend and I made this pact in the Caribbean. If one of us felt unsure about something we were doing then no arguments, we walked away. It’s great to explore but it’s not worth taking risks for.
6: Try to do at least a small amount of research on your ports before you leave, this way when you arrive you have some familiarity with your surroundings and can avoid looking like a lost and vulnerable tourist.
7: Always make a note of the local port agent. This information is printed on your daily paper for EACH port of call. It also mentions how to contact the ship in case of an emergency. Never leave the ship without it!
8: A lot of websites will say do not take mobile phones ashore with you but I personally feel more comfortable with mine whilst away from the ship. If anything were to happen I have the means to get help within a second, I don’t need to worry about finding a pay phone. I would say if you do take mobile phones ashore then be discreet. A flashy phone is always something that will attract attention.
10: Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol whilst ashore. Alcohol affects judgement and behaviour. A drunk tourist is an easy target and a drunk passenger on the dock is usually one waving goodbye to the ship!
There are many other ways to remain safe whilst ashore, these are probably the most basic but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to be given a gentle reminder. We can easily become comfortable in a destination we have visited several times and it’s usually when we become over confident and comfortable that things start to go wrong.