By cruise ship is one of the safest ways to travel. Well, that’s what they say anyway. It’s true that there is a whole lot of security around cruise ships and to get on one you have to be properly documented. That’s the good news. The bad news is that a whole lot of people who have that documentation are not your best friends, family or otherwise well-known humans. For some reason, some travelers think that once on a cruise ship they have entered a different dimension. They think its a place where everything is beautiful and happy all the time. Maybe its the cruise line advertising that gives them this idea. It would be nice to believe that but the fact of the matter is that there are probably some people on the ship that, given the opportunity and/or with enough drinks in them, will do you harm in one way or another.
- Make copies of your passport, drivers license, cruise documents and pretty much any other documentation you have with you. Make two copies. One copy exchange with someone else you are traveling with, another put in your carry-on luggage. That way, you and your friend will both have to be robbed and those robbers will have to take your carry-on luggage to leave you with nothing. Still concerned? Make one more copy and leave it with a friend who has no life and is always available no matter what, someone you can call who has the ability to scan and email or fax documentation someplace you might need it. Have a smart phone or laptop along with you? Hide that information on there someplace where only you can find it.
- Don’t be stupidly fashionable. That designer luggage screams “I AM RICH, ROB ME AND TAKE ALL MY STUFF RIGHT NOW”. This is not the image you need to project. Go to a garage sale and buy someone’s old beat up luggage that still has a few miles left on it. Maybe get some extra straps to wrap around the outside or carry along some duct tape if you think you will need it. You could have a suitcase full of diamonds and no one would know.
- Don’t dress for success. Like the designer luggage, your fancy clothing and accessories need to be tucked away to impress the people you will probably never see again on formal night in the dining room. That Rolex (real or fake) does not make you look like a well-traveled explorer. It makes you look like a stupid person that can probably be robbed pretty easy.
- In your cabin it would be nice to believe that your cute and friendly crew member really does love you as much as they seem to. They don’t. They will not watch out for you and your stuff. If you leave your iPad sitting around on the balcony it will mysteriously disappear. One might think that is just common sense to lock up valuables. No, common sense seems to wait for us on the shore and will be there when we get back. Lock up valuables in your cabin safe. Most all cruise ships have them now. In the olden days, guests might ask for their valuables to be locked in the ship’s safe. Nobody does that now so forget it.
- Get the drinking thing figured out before you board. Would get intoxicated and walk about aimlessly in a strange city on land, all alone, and expect a good outcome? You would? Skip to #9. You wouldn’t? Of course not but that is exactly what a cruise ship is: a floating city full of strangers and they are not all nice people. You probably figured that out standing in line. The loud, obnoxious people are hard to avoid in line. Once you get on the ship though, you can and should avoid them. Adding alcohol to a loud and obnoxious person does not improve their likability and often makes them surly and dangerous to be around.
- Curb the kids. It would be nice to believe that the bar staff did not serve underage passengers booze. It would also be nice to believe in gnomes, the Easter bunny and a happy life for Charlie Sheen too. If kids want to drink, they will. You can not stop them unless you tie them up, gag them and lock them in your cabin. That works but turns your lovely stateroom into a prison which is probably not what you had in mind when you booked your vacation-of-a-lifetime cruise. Do everybody a favor, get it straight with them what they can and can’t do (talk about random sex too) or leave them at home. Those are the two choices. Pick one.
- Beware Ashore.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. I remember going to a county fair as a boy with my father. He said to put my wallet in my front pocket to keep from it being stolen. I always thought that was a dumb idea as it made me look like an idiot who didn’t know which pocket to put his wallet in. Still, the concern is valid. Keep your eyes open if you can. Come people can’t. Some people are oblivious to their surroundings. You know and may have traveled with people like this. You want them to stay on the ship if at all possible. If they must come ashore, don’t have them holding the money or important stuff. Let them carry the towels.
- When you leave your cabin at the end of the cruise be sure you have everything with you. Once you step out and shut that door, anything left inside disappears. You can walk down the hallway, remember you forgot your camera, go back 60 seconds later and “poof”; no camera. Remembering you left something on the ship when you get home gets worse results. Now you not only don’t have your camera, you have also forced coffee out of the nose of some poor cruise line customer service person who took your call and knows there is no way your camera will ever be found but has to be polite because it is their job.
This is not in any way meant to turn you off of cruise vacations, just to open your eyes a little bit to what might happen and some simple things you can do to prevent bad stuff from ruining your vacation. That’s the goal here: have a fabulous cruise, come back with all your fingers and start planning the next one. Got it? Cool.
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