“Is that place safe?” When you’re booking a cruise vacation, and comparing itineraries, you might ask yourself that question about certain destinations. Whether because of reports you’ve seen on the news, or stories from your friends and family, you may wonder whether you’re heading somewhere dangerous on your cruise vacation. The good news is that most ports are relatively safe, as long as you take the proper precautions.
Where the Safest Ports Are
Obviously, cruise lines aren’t interested in bringing passengers to destinations where they’ll be in imminent danger. However, it’s inevitable that some ports are going to be safer for tourists than others. In general, if the port is in a country with a high rate of poverty, political unrest, and corrupt law enforcement and politicians, then the chances of crime are somewhat higher.
If you are looking for the safest destinations, in general, ports within the U.S. and Canada tend to have the fewest reported incidents of crime. Though if you’re thinking of something more tropical, many cruise ships stop at private islands owned by the line, and these islands are usually very safe. Other ports that have fewer reports of crime include Grand Cayman, Aruba and Bermuda. However, always check on your individual destination for recent statistics and reports before booking any trip.
Research Before You Go
One of the best ways to find out about the crime rate in your destination is to visit the U.S. State Department website. The government maintains up-to-date information about countries all over the world for travelers, providing statistics on crimes, tips for staying safe, and warnings about places to avoid. Before booking your vacation, check the itinerary and port list against the State Department listings, and make a decision based on your own comfort level.
Another option is to do a Google search on crime against tourists in your destination, keeping in mind that tourism boards and the vacation industry will probably minimize the crime against visitors.
Nothing will ruin your vacation faster than being the victim of a crime, and unfortunately, in some destinations, cruise passengers are a target for crooks. In some destinations, criminals assume (often correctly) that vacationers have plenty of cash, jewelry, or other items of value, and won’t hesitate to rob them. Beyond robberies, sexual assaults both on and off the ship aren’t unheard of either. You can protect yourself, though.
Leave Valuables At Home
According to reports, jewelry is the most commonly stolen item from cruise ship passengers, followed by electronics and cash. Items are stolen from staterooms and bags in transit, but there are also reports of robberies off the ship. Avoid wearing flashy jewelry and watches on shore excursions, and if you absolutely must bring your diamond earrings or bracelet, properly secure them in your room. Take photographs of your valuables as well; it will help in the event you have to report a theft.
Carry Little Cash
When you’re shopping in port, cash is certainly useful, but only carry a small amount to cover souvenir purchases. Flashing huge wads of cash only makes you a potential target. Bring credit cards instead; if your card is stolen you can cancel it and limit your liability, but you’ll probably never get your cash back.
Watch Your Alcohol Intake
Getting intoxicated is a surefire way to become a target for robbery or assault. Always get your own drinks and be sure you see them poured. Make sure you never leave your drink unattended and vulnerable to tampering.
Use Common Sense
Follow your instincts when you’re in port. If a neighborhood or street seems sketchy, keep on moving. Stay in well-populated areas, and follow the advice and instructions of your tour guide or ship personnel. Pay attention to what’s happening around you, and if something seems off, get out of the area.
Keep an Eye on Your Kids
In fact, stay in constant contact with all of your traveling companions. Don’t let your kids wander the ship or port alone, and have a check-in plan if you’re traveling with a group. Make sure someone knows where you are or where you’re going at all times, in the event of an emergency.
Thousands of travelers enjoy cruise vacations every year without incident – only a small percentage of travelers actually run into trouble in a foreign port. By following these tips, you can ensure you are in the majority of travelers that returns home with happy memories of a wonderful trip.