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Don’t Allow Your Brain To Go On Vacation

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In 2011; 66-year-old Oscar Antonio Mendoza, a passenger from the Celebrity Solstice, died from injuries incurred as a result of a mugging, while he was strolling near the port in Naples, Italy.

This man died because a criminal spotted the Rolex watch he was wearing, and attempted to take it from him. Yes, the port area of Naples does have a reputation for being rife with criminal activity, but many of the major tourist sites in Europe are also well known habitats for professional thieves and pickpockets.

However crime is not restricted to “well known” areas of Europe, or anywhere else in the world.  Crimes can occur even in “the best areas”, and to “the best people”. It is not however human nature to allow fear to deter people from leading their normal lives. If it were, no one would leave their homes.

Generally we try to reduce the risks of the things we’re afraid of by managing our lives as well as we can; we call that using “common sense”.

So, let’s look for some recommendations for “common sense behaviour” while you’re cruising.

-Don’t look like a target –

When preparing to step off the ship in a port of call remember the story of poor Mr. Mendoza. Leave all of your jewellery in the safe in your cabin. Even faux jewellery, if it looks like it could be expensive, could draw unwanted attention toward you. While you may want to dress up on the ship, it’s abbetter idea to dress down during a port visit.

Ladies; wandering down a street you’re not familiar with, even if it’s busy street, with a Coach, Louis Viton, or similar, bag hanging from your shoulders is a bit like walking around with a spotlight pointing at you.

Backpacks may seem useful, easy to carry, and can certainly serve their purpose. Just be sure to keep nothing of value in them; not digital cameras, cell phones, your cruise card ID, or worse yet, any cash or credit cards. The straps on your backpack can be cut, and the bag gone before you can even turn around. Some people will say the safest way to carry a backpack is reversed, with the bag in front of you, clutched towards your chest. In my view doing so points out to potential criminals that there’s something in that bag that you value. Wearing the back pack reversed is certainly safer than wearing it normally. But for a shore excursion, or if you’re touring on your own, I recommend a simple looking beach bag, or shoulder bag. It won’t draw any unwanted attention in your direction. In fact, your goal should be to look just like everyone else.

-Don’t carry a lot of cash –

Even if you feel you are carrying your cash in a safe spot, like a zippered pocket, if you make a purchase, you’re going to have to take the cash out of its “safe place” to pay. When you do that, there may be someone nearby watching the transaction, and watching as you place your cash back in its (no longer) safe place. Carry a small amount of cash, and only one credit card, along with your identification. Place these items in a front pocket, along with a number of coins. This makes it much more difficult for even the best pick pockets.

-Be aware of your surroundings –

Don’t allow fear of what might happen to dictate your activities; to end your sense of adventure and exploration. Just do what you  do with your brain turned on. You can rely on your brain to direct you and keep you safe in most circumstances, if you keep it working, and pay attention to what is going on around you, and what the people around you are doing.

-A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from homeatlast
Time June 1, 2011 at 7:00 am

We just returned from Europe and both of us wore a money belt. At first I thought it would be uncomfortable but after a day or so I totally forgot it was there. We put our passports, creditcards and most of our money in them. My husband carried a small amount of money to use in his front pocket. I carried a very small purse with only my comb, tissues and map in it. Worked wonderfully for us. In Barcelona we saw an elderly man have his wife’s purse taken while he turned his back for one second. We were waiting for the “blue bus” to bring us to the ships and his wife went to the restroom and left her bag with her husband (wifes take note!!)I was sitting down with all our bags directly infront of me. A guy came by yelling at us and while we all turned our attention to him someone else took the wife’s bag. The first thing I did was put my hands on all our “stuff” while I was looking at the guy but the older man was not so lucky. Felt so sorry for him.

Comment from Dave Beers
Time June 1, 2011 at 4:22 pm

During my Navy life I spent a lot of time in Naples, and in fact I did several weeks assigned to the permanent Shore Patrol where I pounded a beat around the port and frequently with an officer from the Carabinieri. Petty thieves and pickpockets were a primary concern. The mere sight of the Carabinieri officer would cause the crooks to vanish. Money and ID in the front pocket, with something on top of it was the way to go then just as Kuki suggests with the coins in the pocket. I usually kept a hand in the pocket. I knew sailors who would put an empty wallet in their back pocket as dummy bait. Just remember that if you can think of it so can the crooks. Only a fool wears expensive items in Naples.

Comment from sobegal
Time June 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I seem to have accumulated 7 money belts/neck wallets. I saw a friend PP in front of me in Europe and vowed it would never happen to me. I even sleep w. moneybelt in hotels. Wear belt low on body w. zipper against body. Usually wear jeans onshore w. all valuables in belt. A few Euros in neck wallet with $$ part tucked under jean front. Sometimes a day pac w. Jacket etc, nothing valuable, zippers by skin. Thieves think $$ in pack.(zippers opened on trains several times). I use large cheap sunglasses, black plastic watch, disposable camera. Dark shoes. Open $ belt in privacy.Caught a guy w. his hand in my jeans pocket on Paris subway, nothing there/ closest I came to being robbed. Everything must be hidden or it will be stolen. None of those zipper travel handbags ladies please. Thieves love them. They dont want to steal your bag; they just want to get in it.Bon Voyage!

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time June 11, 2011 at 3:58 am

Pick pockets and thieves, petty and pro, abound wherever people gather, does not matter where. Caution is of the highest importance.

These three facts should bother any tourist, and traveler, novice or experienced.

Three dozen vacationers were killed in the streets of St. Thomas last year, this past March, 19 US citizens were murdered in taxi cabs in Acapulco, as noted in the daily news while I was on a cruise, last week more US citizens were murdred in Mazatlan, and if one is gay, DO NOT STEP FOOT IN JAMAICA.

Comment from Spencer Aronfeld
Time May 20, 2014 at 3:13 am

Excellent advice Kuki. But as a lawyer who helps injured cruise passengers I would also suggest being just as careful and diligent onboard the vessel too. Many of our clients, because they are on vacation and simply don’t know any better assume that cruise ships are well guarded playgrounds rather than a floating international city. We have had cases where clients have left their rooms unlocked or kids roam the ship at all hours without supervision.

Cruises are a lot of fun, but people should be careful onboard and in port–at all times.

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