(91) Safety on Shore
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Going ashore also calls for commonsense street smart precautions. Cruise ships offer organized excursions in virtually every port. While some veteran cruisers shun ship excursions, a ship excursion is often the best choice for making the most of your time in port and for travel safety for novice cruisers. (See tips on Ship Excursions Versus Independent Exploration.)
Regardless of whether you chose a ship excursion or explore independently, exercise these additional precautions when in ports:
- Attend cruise ship port presentations for tips on local customs and protocol. Don't be afraid to ask questions about what areas or activities to avoid.
- Be careful what you eat and drink on shore. Most restaurants in cruise ports are as safe as restaurants at home. However, in some areas water and food are not safe to consume. If in doubt, err on the side of caution. Drink only bottled water from the ship. Take snacks ashore and return to the ship for your meals.
- Research appropriate attire and customs at your destinations. Although shorts are shipboard attire, in some countries, they are considered offensive. Shorts restrict visits to many churches, temples and monuments. Tourists in shorts are turned away daily at The Vatican. Avoid potential controversy; leave political statement T-shirts at home.
- Leave your heirlooms at home. Never travel with anything you cannot afford to lose. Wear an inexpensive Timex rather than a Rolex. Leave your diamonds in the safe deposit box at the bank and bring glitzy and glamorous costume jewelry.
- Carry identification, your shipboard card and a copy of your passport with you at all times. If you are involved in an accident or miss the ship's departure, these documents are critically important.
- Around the world, pickpockets prey on unsuspecting travelers. Stash your credit card and cash in a money belt or travel pouch that is worn underneath clothing. If you carry a wallet, place it in your front pocket with a rubber band around it or pin your pocket closed with a safety pin to make it hard for someone to lift your wallet and vanish. Avoid carrying cameras and gear in backpacks behind you. When in restaurants and other public places keep purses or tote bags in front of you with a firm grip or securely between your feet.
- Don't carry a lot of cash. Use a major credit card for expensive purchases. (See additional tips on What Kind of Travel Funds to Take on a Cruise.)
- Write down the name and telephone of the cruise line port agent and the embassy or consulate office. These are your lifelines if there is a problem while in port.
Remember, cruises are one of the safest ways to travel throughout the world. The odds are with you for a safe and healthy voyage.