Cruises offer an exciting way to explore multiple destinations in one voyage, and many travelers eagerly anticipate the thrill of visiting new ports of call. However, as you embark on your adventures in unfamiliar places, it’s essential to stay vigilant and informed about potential port of call crimes and scams that can target tourists. In this article, we’ll shed light on common scams and offer tips to help you safeguard your travel experience.

Most cruise excursions are enjoyed without a hitch, but it’s essential to be extra diligent in order to avoid becoming a crime victim when disembarking at port destinations. Simply the presence of a large group coming into town puts cruisers at risk of being a target of crime, including robbery and pickpockets.

7 Tips for Navigating Port of Call Crimes: Protecting Your Group from Petty Crime and Scams While Traveling

There is some commonality in petty crimes and scams that travelers fall into while traveling. Follow these tips in some of the most popular cruise ports can help minimize the risk and ensure a fabulous, event-free vacation.

1. The “Friendly” Stranger

One of the oldest tricks in the book is the “friendly” stranger who approaches you with a smile and seemingly good intentions. They may offer to guide you to a hidden gem, take your photo, or engage in a pleasant conversation. While many locals are genuinely welcoming, some exploit this openness to commit theft or fraud.

Tip: Be cautious when interacting with strangers, especially if they are overly persistent or seem too friendly. Politely decline offers for help or insist on keeping your belongings in your sight.

2. The Fake Tour Operator

Beware of individuals posing as tour operators who promise unbeatable deals on excursions, transportation, or tickets to attractions. They might ask for upfront payment or personal information, only to disappear once they’ve collected their ill-gotten gains.

Tip: Book tours and excursions through reputable cruise line or port-approved operators. Verify the legitimacy of any tour company online, and avoid making payments in cash to individuals on the street.

3. Distraction Techniques

Scammers often work in pairs or groups. While one person distracts you with a seemingly innocent conversation or request for assistance, their accomplice pilfers your belongings. These distractions can happen anywhere, from crowded marketplaces to quiet alleys.

Tip: Stay alert and keep your belongings secure. Use crossbody bags or anti-theft backpacks with concealed zippers. Avoid engaging in lengthy conversations with strangers if your belongings are exposed.

4. The Fake Souvenir Seller

Some street vendors peddle counterfeit goods or overcharge tourists for items of questionable quality. They may use high-pressure sales tactics to make a sale, leaving you with an unsatisfactory purchase.

Tip: Shop at reputable stores or markets recommended by your cruise line or fellow travelers. Bargain politely but firmly, and do some research on local prices to avoid overpaying.

5. ATM Scams

When withdrawing cash from ATMs, be cautious of skimming devices or hidden cameras that criminals install to steal your card information and PIN. Always choose ATMs located in well-lit, secure areas.

Tip: Inspect the ATM for any unusual attachments, cover your keypad when entering your PIN, and use ATMs within banks or well-known establishments.

6. Taxi Scams

Taxi drivers may overcharge or take unnecessarily long routes to inflate fares. In some cases, they may refuse to use the meter, leaving you with an unfair price.

Tip: Research local taxi rates before arriving at your destination. Use official taxis with meters, and agree on the fare or request to use the meter before starting your journey.

7. The “Found” Valuables Scam

Someone might approach you, claiming to have found a valuable item like a ring or jewelry. They’ll offer to sell it to you at a “discounted” price, but the item is often fake or worthless.

Tip: Politely decline such offers, as they are typically scams. If you genuinely lose an item, report it to local authorities or your cruise line’s security.

While exploring new ports of call can be incredibly rewarding for you and your group, it’s crucial to stay vigilant and informed about potential scams and petty crimes that can target tourists. By following these tips and using common sense, you can help protect yourself and ensure a safe and enjoyable travel experience. Remember, a little caution goes a long way in safeguarding your adventures.