By Linda Garrison of cruises.about.com
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, I always make a couple of extra copies of my passport to use to take ashore.
Packing Your Luggage
Make a list of everything you have 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. I’ve seen all sorts of baggage contents (including some “unmentionables”) come out on the luggage carousels at the airport, and always felt sorry for the owners whose bags had come open.
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.
These tips are all common sense. Use them to make your next cruise vacation a safe one!