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Cruise Travel Safety Abroad

Getting away from it all isn't supposed to mean getting into trouble. One advantage of cruise travel is the safety aspect -- there is very little crime on board most ships. But all too often we can be lulled into a false sense of security in the cocoon of our vessel. The port cities we anticipate with such enthusiasm can be intimidating, if not downright unfriendly places.

Whether it's hair-braiders in Jamaica or gypsies in Barcelona, your first line of defense is preparedness. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with it, not to mention using common sense, should save you a lot of grief.

Unaware of local customs and dangers, tourists are attractive targets for scam artists and petty thieves. , Americans with friendly demeanors and trusting personalities are particularly vulnerable. This is especially true overseas where their attention is riveted on the sights they've come so far to see and not on the stranger who brushed by them and, incidentally, just emptied their pockets.

Fear of the unknown shouldn't discourage any of us from traveling. It's that very unknown that is most appealing. So, how can you accomplish both objectives -- travel abroad and remain safe? Planning and awareness are primary strategies.

Some things to consider:

Make copies of your passport, driver's license, and credit cards before leaving home. Leave the copies in a safe place on your ship. If the ship's purser holds your passport (which is often the case, to expedite clearing the ship in foreign ports), carry the passport copy ashore with you.

Use an under-the-clothing style money pouch. Non security style waist packs and handbags are prime targets for cut and run thieves (who cut the strap and disappear into the crowd).

Don't carry valuables in your waist pack, but do thread the strap through your belt loops. Carry a handbag with a shoulder strap across your body and keep it in front of you.

The handsome local offering to exchange your dollars at a better than market rate is probably a hustler.

Never leave your camera or tote bag on a chair in a restaurant. Keep it on your lap.

Wearing expensive jewelry and flashing a wad of money is an invitation to pickpockets.

Men should carry wallets in their front pockets and divide their money, keeping a little in each pocket. In fact, why carry a wallet in your pocket at all if you don't have to? Preferable is a wallet that attaches to your belt and tucks inside your slacks.

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