First off, relax. It’s easy to get paranoid reading an article like this and, whilst crime does exist everywhere, we don’t want to make you so hyper-paranoid that when you disembark your cruise ship you can’t enjoy your time in port at your dream destination.
The www.CRUISE.co.uk team want you to be aware of some of the more common tourist scams out there and the best way to avoid them to ensure a smooth and happy cruise! So we’ve put them all together below as your ultimate guide to avoid getting ripped off in port…
Check with the Foreign Office first
Before going anywhere it’s always best to check the advice available on the foreign office’s website. If there’s anything specific that you need to know, that’s where the information will be.
The standard advice they give to all tourists is:
1-Find out about local customs and laws for any destination you’re visiting
2-Make sure your passport is valid and you have all the necessary visas
3-Make sure you have comprehensive insurance and you’ve checked all the fine print in the policy
Pick pockets are a nuisance in most major cities and the advice to avoiding them when you’re abroad is much the same as when you’re at home. Keep your wallet and phone hidden, don’t let people see which pocket you keep it in (never use your back pocket!), keep your bag zipped up and keep some emergency money elsewhere. A lot of sites recommend you wear a money belt however as it’s no longer 1990 and they practically scream tourist- we’ll leave that decision up to you!
There are several pickpocket ‘scams’ however, that are quite common in some foreign cities that you should probably keep an eye out for:
1- Don’t Let Go
One popular (and potentially upsetting) scam is to target a tourist with a lot of shopping bags or luggage. Someone will walk up and throw something at your arms before running off.
You’ll obviously try to catch it, dropping your luggage or shopping only to find you had no real reason to catch what a stranger was throwing at you! Meanwhile the person’s accomplice will have grabbed your dropped bags and ran away.
2- Pocket Problems
A common (and arguably clever) scam in many European cities is for an bystander to warn you that your pocket has just been picked (it hasn’t at this point). Human nature is to pat your pockets to check though, instantly letting the person’s accomplice know where your valuables are.
Top Tip: If this happens to you walk away and make sure you change where you’re valuables are.
3- Avoid the Pen
A common pickpocket scam in some cities at the moment is for tourists to be approached by children doing ‘research’ for a charity. As you fill in the questionnaire/petition on their clipboard, they’ll be busy exploring your bags and pockets with their hands out of sight underneath it.
Pick pockets are an ever present problem in most major cities but, with a few careful steps, it can easily be avoided. The thing travellers need to be most wary about when exploring foreign areas is some of the scams that criminals have thought up to solely target tourists like yourselves….
1- Selfie Central
A common tactic is to approach a tourist (especially a couple) in front of a famous monument or attraction and offer to take their photo. Worst case scenario: they’ll then simply run away with your camera or if not will instantly (and loudly) demand payment for their ‘service’.
Top Tip: Never fear – modern technology has nearly made this scam obsolete – Just buy yourself a selfie stick before you head abroad – Simple!
2- Eyes on the Card
We’ve heard reports from Barcelona of some shop clerks serving people whilst talking on their phone. They’re not really talking though – instead they’re secretly taking a picture of your credit card.
Top Tip: Wait till they finish before using your card or ask them to hang up – It might be a little awkward but much better than having your card details stolen!
3- Coin Crisis
Another scam we’ve heard a lot about in Barcelona is shop clerks counting out your change insanely slow, with the idea of waiting for you to get fed up and say something like ‘that’ll do’ and leave them a generous tip.
We’re afraid there’s not much you can do about this one except be aware of it, and be patient if you don’t want to leave all your change behind!
4- Friend or Foe
We almost shouldn’t have to say this but in the interests of being complete…. never, never, NEVER buy tickets for shows, tours, museums or excursions anywhere except the company’s official website or at the correct ticket booths. Scalpers are everywhere selling fake tickets and if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
5- Hack the Fakes
Another common scam that’s been around for years, but stills traps thousands of tourists, is fake goods. Everyone loves the idea of a bargain, especially when they’re on holiday and in a great mood already, but we’re sorry to break this to you – that nice man really isn’t selling a genuine Rolex and that women in distress doesn’t really need to part with a diamond ring that’s been in her family for generations.
Top Tip: You’re being scammed!
6- Late Night Calls
If you’re stopping in a hotel before or after your cruise, be careful of late night calls. Some scammers will ring direct through to your hotel room claiming to be the reception desk and pretending there’s a problem with your card. They’ll ask you to confirm them over the phone.
Top Tip: Never do this! It’s annoying (especially in the middle of the night) but ask yourself what kind of hotel would call at that time anyway? Instead offer to head down in the morning and politely hang up.
Do you feel more prepared with this guide to avoid being ripped off in port? Have you ever been scammed abroad? How cautious are you when you go on your travels? Leave us your comments and discover some more of our exclusive tips below…
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