Con artists have honed their skills in an effort to turn your cruise ship vacation into a nightmare. Before you even step foot on a ship, a smooth talking scammer may entice you into accepting a "limited time offer" for a "free" cruise. If you respond to the solicitation, you may find that the "free" cruise includes payment of expensive port fees, registration charges and other bogus costs.
Even if you book a trip with a well-known cruise line, remember that you're entering a mini-metropolis with all the pleasures and hazards inherent in such a location. Thefts and other fraudulent activities may occur during the cruise itself, and shore excursions provide a golden opportunity for pickpockets and thieves.
If you're considering a cruise, follow a few simple guidelines to avoid scams:
- Ask questions before you buy. Get details about fees, fares, cancellation charges and itineraries. If you're offered a discount, get it in writing. Never succumb to high-pressure sales tactics and never provide confidential information to anyone you don't fully trust.
- Research the destination. Check online for current conditions at the ports you'll be visiting, including the experiences of other travelers. Other cruise passengers may be able to provide insight into wonderful places to visit and areas to avoid.
- Lock up your valuables. While onboard, keep your valuables (including currency, passports, driver's licenses, and expensive jewelry) in the cabin safe. Make copies of documents. Leave one set at home and keep the other set with you, separate from the originals.
- Stay in groups. While on shore, you're less likely to become a victim if you stick with others and keep to the busy paths.