If you’re planning to go on a cruise soon, you may be tempted to pack your favorite necklace or that new watch that you just got as a gift—but you should also think about how you’re going to protect your valuable possessions from theft. As much as cruise lines try to portray themselves as big, happy families or utopian communities, the reality is that their ships are large vessels with thousands of passengers and crew members who you don’t know, and just like in a large city, theft is an issue.
It’s hard to know exactly how many thefts occur on cruise ships each year because cruise lines are not obligated to report this type of crime unless the value stolen exceeds $10,000. As a result, cruises underreport smaller (but still significant) crimes, such as jewelry stolen from a passenger’s room or a wallet taken from a passenger’s pocket on a shore excursion. Cruise review sites and forums suggest that opportunistic and petty thefts are a more common issue than cruise lines admit.
So what can you do to keep yourself and your belongings safe on your next cruise? Here are a few tips to help you avoid being a victim of theft.
6 Tips to Minimize the Risk of Cruise-Related Thefts
Leave the valuables at home. Most cruises offer at least a couple formal dinner nights, so it’s not surprising that a lot of people bring expensive jewelry, clothing, and watches with them on their trip. When you’re packing, consider whether you could take something that looks nice but is less expensive so that you don’t have to worry about that $3,000 necklace going missing.
If you must bring valuables, take a personal safe. Cruise lines outfit their cabins with safes for passengers to use, but cruise staff members also have access to that safe. While it would be nice to think that the cruise line has done thorough background checks and that none of their staff members would take advantage of their access to the safes, you can’t guarantee that, and it’s not worth risking your valuables. Instead, bring your own portable safe if you’re bringing any small, very expensive items with you.
Make copies of your passport and other documentation. The last thing you want is for your passport to be stolen while you’re visiting a port, but a lot of the activities you might want to do on shore will require some form of identification. The best solution is to make copies of your passport, driver’s license, and other important documents before you leave for your trip so that you can leave the originals somewhere safe when you’re on a shore excursion.
Don’t bring expensive luggage. Packing your belongings in an expensive-looking suitcase or bag can make you a target for thieves who are likely to assume that if what’s on the outside is valuable, what’s on the inside must be valuable as well. Bring plain-looking, less expensive luggage: all you really need is something that will fit your vacation items and stay closed when being transported.
Don’t flash money around at port. This should be a fairly obvious tip, but some cruise passengers sadly become victims of theft on shore excursions simply because they saw something they wanted to buy and pulled out a wallet with a lot of money. In fact, many pickpockets specifically target port towns because they know there will be tourists with their guard down. Be discrete with your money; bring an under-the-clothes money belt if possible, and never carry your wallet in your back pocket.
Don’t let your guard down when you’re having fun. Cruise vacations offer plenty of unforgettable experiences, and it’s easy to forget about the risk of theft—or just to think the best of all the other people on the cruise—when you’re having a great time. However, you still need to avoid doing things like leaving valuables by your lounge chair when you go in the pool, or even falling asleep on the pool deck. You should also be careful about the amount of alcohol you drink, as being visibly intoxicated can make you an easier target for would-be thieves. Remember, enjoy yourself, but use common sense.
If you follow these tips, you should minimize your risk of being a crime victim, but unfortunately, crimes like theft do sometimes still occur on cruise ships. If you are the victim of a crime and you believe the cruise line is at fault for failing to employ stricter security measures, talk to a cruise accident attorney about filing a negligent security claim. Protect your rights when the cruise line is at fault for letting their guard down.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”