Cruising is such a comfortable way to see the world that you can sometimes forget that when you're on a shore excursion you're in another country, with different customs, traditions -- and laws. What goes in the United States doesn't always translate to other countries, and it's wise to know some do's and don'ts ahead of time, just to be safe. After all, no one wants to end their time on shore in a jail cell.
Read on for a list of nine things you shouldn't do in different ports.
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Updated January 8, 2020
1. Wear Camouflage
Where You Can't Do It: Several countries in the Caribbean, including Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago. It's also forbidden in Oman and for those on an African river cruise or safari tour organized by a cruise line. It’s illegal to wear camouflage clothing in countries like Zimbabwe.
Why: Camo patterns can be trendy in the U.S. but leave them behind when you venture out in these countries. Laws ban civilians from donning gear or outfits that could lead to other people thinking that they are with the military or law enforcement.
2. Engage in Public Displays of Affection
Where You Can't Do It: United Arab Emirates (Dubai, Abu Dhabi); Egypt; India; Indonesia
Why: Countries with a strong state religion, such as Islam or Hinduism, often see kissing as a violation of their decency or obscenity codes and foreigners have been fined, deported and arrested for making out in public. Even in countries where it's technically not illegal, like Jordan or Morocco, you'll attract angry looks. Save it for the ship.
3. Forget to Flush the Toilet
Where You Can't Do It: Singapore
Why: Singapore has a host of laws intended to keep its busy city-state clean. (Although contrary to popular opinion, you can chew gum in public -- you just can't deposit the gooey mess anywhere outside a trash can, as littering is also against the law.) And we're not exactly sure how they would enforce this one, which applies to public facilities. But Singapore has a low tolerance toward rule-breakers, so best to mind your P's and Q's.
4. Ride Bikes Unsafely
Where You Can't Do It: Mexico; Austria
Why: In Mexico, keep both feet on the pedals or else; one-footed bike riding is illegal. In Austria, it's both hands that have to be touching the bike.
5. Post a Photo of Your Beer
Where You Can't Do It: Thailand
Why: Laws regulating drinking are fairly common around the world; even in the United States, a myriad "blue laws" prevent alcohol sales on Sundays or regulate where you can purchase drinks. With a strong Buddhist culture, Thailand is extremely strict on drinking, at least on paper; laws prohibit drinking in the daytime, outside of lunch hours and there are many places you can't drink, including public parks and places of worship, including temples. But perhaps the weirdest law prohibits the advertisement of drinks and alcoholic brands -- including on social media. So no selfies with a bottle of Singha!
6. Snack While on Church Steps or Monuments
Where You Can't Do It: Florence and Rome, Italy
Why: We get it. Florence has some gorgeous houses of worship and the steps seem like an oh-so-inviting place to devour your delicious gelato. But the amount of resulting litter has made city officials so angry that they've taken to dousing church steps with water to deter tourists from sitting. In Rome, the ban goes further: No eating on fountains or historic monuments, such as the Pantheon, the Colosseum and even the Spanish Steps.
7. Feed the Pigeons
Where You Can't Do It: Venice, Italy; San Francisco
Why: Overtourism has been the topic du jour in Venice, where officials believe the city is literally sinking under its tourism weight. For many years, it's been illegal to feed pigeons in St. Mark's Square, as the city tries to rid itself of what many describe as "flying vermin." San Francisco has a similar ordinance. Note: It's not illegal to feed pigeons in New York City, but if excessive droppings are tied to your activity, you may receive a fine if you don't clean them up!
8. Wear Stilettos
Where You Can't Do It: Greece
Why: Pointy-heeled shoes are forbidden at ancient monuments and sites in Athens and elsewhere in Greece, the reason being that the sharp tips dig into the fragile marble. Trust us: You really don't want to wear heels on your trek up to the Parthenon anyway.
9. Use Facebook
Where You Can't Do It: China
Why: China is a huge tourism destination and a major cruise port. But the government still has iron-clad control over the internet, and popular sites such as Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube, among others are verboten (although you can still access it in Hong Kong, where many Southeast Asia cruises originate).