Dangerous Cruise Ports and Tips How to Stay Safe

Mar 08, 2023

Cruising around the world, either working or being a guest, can be associated with beautiful places, white sand beaches, and exotic destinations. However, there are some places where you should practice extra caution when you get off the ship. No matter where you go while on the cruise ship, there are a few common tips to maintain a high level of your safety. 

1. Do not flaunt your cash. I know this sounds simple, but do not try to show off with the cash, especially in the ports with limited security guards. It comes down to simple things, avoid attracting unnecessary attention by showing off with your money, especially in the secluded areas without port security.

2. Do not bring your jewelry or expensive watches; try to bring as little cash as possible. Most of the ports accept the card as a payment method. Think ahead to avoid some unpleasant surprises. 

3. Remain alert at all times. Avoid remote areas and traveling after dark, and always book shore excursions with long-established, trusted operators. These are the most sensible steps you can take to minimize danger. If you want to go during the night outside for a short stroll around Port Terminal, do not leave the safe zone. Stay safe all the time.

4. If you want to book a tour, do it on the ship. As crew members, we are entitled to book some tours with special prices, and it is always safer to do it on the vessel because you always know what you will get when you book your tour outside the port. I always suggested to my lovely guests that booking the tour on the ship is much better for them. When booking a port tour outside, you can save a few dollars and get a lower price. Still, a few dollars difference is not worth jeopardizing your safety and potentially putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation.

Generally speaking, you're at a much lower risk if you're in a resort town and at a reputable location. Most resorts have security guards and gates, so staying on the allocated tourist resorts is pretty safe. If you're leaving the resort property, ensure you have the correct address to where you're going and let the front desk know you're leaving and when you plan to return. Use the same safety precautions you would when traveling anywhere.

Mexico is one of my favorite places in the world—a beautiful place with affordable shopping, stunning beaches, and cheap beer and tequila. On my first contract on the cruise ship, we were sailing out of San Diego, California, and one of our stops was Ensenada, Mexico. For me, it meant a much-needed break from the hectic working schedule, so getting the bucket of beer with a couple of shots of local tequila was always making a tremendous difference for my mental health-work balance that is crucial when you work on the cruise ship. Looking back at those times, Ensenada is a very safe place. Still, mainly if you go to the resorts for the tourist, those resorts are usually full of security guards, even armed military personnel. It always made me feel safe and welcome to return from week to week.

In 2022, Mexico City, Nayarit, Baja California Sur, Quintana Roo, and Oaxaca were issued an increased caution for tourists traveling there. Baja California Sur is home to Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and La Paz. In Nayarit, many tourists visit the surf town Sayulita. Quintana Roo is home to Cancun, Tulum, Riviera Maya, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. Surfers also like to visit Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca. Back in the days when I visited Cabo San Lucas for the very first time, with all those armed military personnel presence in the port, I wondered what was going on there and why there was a need for that much security.

Roatan and Bay islands are part of the Caribbean islands, a top destination for travelers and vacationers worldwide. However, this island is dangerous due to the increased crime rates. Armed robbery, sexual assaults, rapes, and murders are unchecked crimes on these islands. Coxen Hole, where cruise ships dock, has significantly more crime than other areas on these islands, so exert extra caution when partaking in activities.

The Honduran judicial system lacks sufficient resources to cope with the country's crime rate and offers little deterrent to criminals. Also, the high level of corruption is not helping much in terms of crime prevention in Honduras. I really enjoy going outside in Honduras, but I make sure to plan ahead and always go in the group. It's not recommended to seclude yourself outside, and never explore the area by yourself at night. 

I remember Montego Bay, Jamaica, it's such a beautiful place to visit, but the some locals outside the port area are mostly drug pushers. They will follow you for a while in an attempt to sell you drugs; just kindly smile back at them and keep walking, do not engage in conversation with those kinds of people. When you stop to have a chat with some of those people, they will never leave you alone. 

It is essential to always remain in the proper state of mind. Working on the cruise ship can be stressful at times, but that should never be an excuse for our inappropriate behavior when we get off the ship. 

A good friend of mine, a colleague from my ship department, went outside in Montego Bay, Jamaica.. He was inquiring about the tour availability with the local guy, and that’s when all went wrong. The taxi driver was friendly towards him at first but managed to influence my friend to try some local Marijuana and stole his valet and watch afterward. When my friend returned to the cruise terminal, he reported that his wallet had been stolen and that he did not have the ID required to return to the ship. He was robbed by a taxi driver who was never found after that. As it usually happens, to make things even worst, cruise ship security officers were suspicious about my friend's behavior upon joining the vessel. They sent him to a drug test in the infirmary. He was positive on a drug test, and the company fired him immediately; he was sent home for a silly reason that could be all prevented.

Do not let people outside in the ports influence you to do things that could potentially harm your future and plans. Stay focused, and enjoy your contracts!