When 22 cruise passengers were robbed at gunpoint on a shore excursion in Mexico, it was a warning to a cruise officials and cruise passengers.
Of course, cruise passengers are also robbed on the cruise ships, losing jewelry, purses, wallets, electronics, and more. Just like back home, it’s important to implement the right safety precautions to help you avoid being robbed so you can get to the fun part – your cruise vacation.
Here are 8 tips to help you avoid being robbed on a cruise.
If you hand your luggage to a porter, stop and be sure they put the right room number on your luggage – or clearly mark your room number on your luggage yourself. Either that, or carry your bags to your room yourself to avoid mis-routed bags.
Well, of course you can sleep on the cruise and get in the pool, just don’t go to sleep by the pool after tucking your wallet inside your towel and putting it beneath your lounger. Then, jump in the water after a nap and expect everything to be where you left it.
Many people make the mistake of letting their guard down when they’re having fun, but thieves lurk everywhere and if you make it easy for them, they’ll quickly take advantage. If you’re guarding your valuables, you have to stay aware and awake – or put them in a safer place.
Every travel expert recommends that travelers leave their valuables at home, but if you must travel with something valuable, keep it on your person. The problem with this rule is that you may want to have a valuable, say an expensive watch or earrings with you to wear at times, but you want those items secure when you have to leave them.
Hint: ‘Hiding’ your $10,000 watch in your shoe and covering it up with a towel so you can go swimming in the deck pool isn’t gonna cut it.
When you can’t keep your valuables with you – and keep an eye on them – leave them in our cabin, which leads us to our next tip.
Many cruise travelers rely on the safe in their room, and that’s certainly better than nothing, but consider the fact that the cruise ship staff has to be able open the in-room safe if the passenger forgets their code or loses their card, etc.
Hmmm … that’s a lot of people armed with the ability to open your safe.
These days, experts recommend that travelers take along their own safe. No, we don’t mean a big, heavy, fire-proof thing that’s way over the weight limit. There are a number of portable and lightweight ways to lock up your stuff, including luggage locks and portable safes. See Magellan’s, or any good travel supplier, for some great options.
When you’re moving about the cruise ship, you don’t need all of the things you typically carry in your wallet.
After that, you can pare down what you carry even further to just what you need on the cruise ship at that time. In either case, you should never keep all your cash, credit cards, or other valuables in one place – spread it out. If you are robbed, you’ve minimized the impact of that event by giving the thief less to take.
For men, having your wallet in your front pocket is your best defense. It’s relatively difficult for someone to fish objects out of the front pockets of your pants (wrap it with a rubber band and see how hard it is to remove).
Most experienced travel experts recommend wearing a money belt for your valuables, and that’s a great idea for on-shore excursions.
For women, choose a purse or bag that you can wear diagonally across your body – this makes it more difficult for a thief to snatch it. Don’t hang your bag on the back of your chair when you stop for a coffee either – that’s too easy to steal.
Lots of bars and restaurants have started putting hangers at your knees where you can hang your bag out of sight, but if you don’t have that option, put your foot or the leg of your chair through the strap and keep it at your feet.
A common technique for picking pockets is to create a distraction. Some distractions are as simple as a pretty or handsome person in a swimsuit asking you for the time. If there’s a street performer they may be a front for pickpockets, so remember that when you’re distracted, you’re an easy target.
Of course, drinking too much can also make you an easy mark. If you’re stumbling back to your room, someone who offers to help may not have the best of intentions for your personal wellfare.
When it’s time to disembark, be sure to keep your valuables with you if you decide to put your luggage in the hallway to be carried for you to the airport.
After all, that hallway is public and anyone can pick up your luggage and drag it away to be pilfered!
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.