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Theft on Cruise Ships: 6 Ways to Keep Your Belongings Safe

Personal Safe Onboard Oasis of the Seas Cabin (Photo: Cruise Critic)
Personal Safe Onboard Oasis of the Seas Cabin (Photo: Cruise Critic)

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Cruising is one of the most carefree forms of travel, but on a ship with so many people, you should always continue to follow basic safety principles, including keeping a close watch on your belongings. We'd like to believe theft on cruise ships isn't possible and our fellow cruisers are good Samaritans, but that's not a chance you want to take. As is the case on any vacation, theft can occur on cruise ships if you're not careful; the risk is even higher when you're in port, depending on the destination you're visiting. Here are six measures you can take to avoid theft on cruise ships and in port.

Updated January 8, 2020

1. Keep your valuables to a minimum when packing.

"Leave your valuables at home" is one of the most widely asserted tips from travel experts. Truth is, you might want to bring some fine jewelry to wear on formal night. If you must pack any valuables, we recommend keeping them to a minimum and suggest you don't take them off the ship. Flashing bling in port will make you a target for theft.

2. Don't bring huge wads of cash.

Wallet Stuffed With Hundreds (Photo: Ruslan Grumble/Shutterstock)

Cruise ships utilize a cash-free spending system, meaning any purchases made onboard are carried out with your key card, which is tied to either your credit card or a set amount of cash you deposited at the beginning of the cruise. While there's no need to carry cash around the ship, you will want to bring a couple hundred for emergency funds, spending in port and tips for luggage handlers, tour guides and drivers.

3. Use the ship's safe, or bring your own.

When not in use, your jewelry and cash should be kept in a safe. Every cruise ship cabin comes with a safe; there also are portable safes you can purchase for added security. (Crewmembers, like any hotel staff, have the ability to open your safe in the event you're locked out.) We haven't heard of any cruise ship safe breaches, but a portable safe certainly offers more guaranteed security, especially if you plan to stay at a hotel or bed-and-breakfast before or after your cruise.

4. Avoid leaving your belongings unattended.

Personal Belongings Near Pool (Photo: Svitlana Sokolova/Shutterstock)

This might seem like a no-brainer, but the overwhelming excitement of cruising and all its amenities can distract us to the point of letting our guard down. Maybe you put down your bags for a moment to take some pictures, or perhaps after hours of sunbathing, you decide to cool off in the pool, leaving your cell phone (under a towel) on your deck chair. Never leave your belongings unattended. Put them somewhere safe, or have your travel buddy keep an eye on them for you.

5. Consider using anti-theft accessories.

Safety warnings vary by destination, but pickpocketing can occur in any congested city. In addition to taking basic precautions like keeping cash to a minimum and your wallet in a secure location, you can add more peace of mind by using anti-theft accessories. From backpacks and wallets to belts and clothes, there's a wide range of products designed to keep your belongings secure via "hidden" zippers and RFID-blocking pockets, while also making them easily accessible to you. (Check out some of our favorite cruise bags, including an anti-theft option that ups the ante with cut-proof material that doesn't sacrifice style.)

6. Label your luggage correctly.

Suitcases Near Window (Photo: FabrikaSimf/Shutterstock)

Upon arrival at the cruise terminal on embarkation day, you'll be greeted by porters who are responsible for delivering your luggage to your cabin. Your job is to make sure you put the correct name and cabin number on your bags so they get to the right place and don't end up at the mercy of another passenger's potentially sticky fingers.

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