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I'm going to Europe in a few days and I will be going on a cruise that goes to a few different countries including Spain, Monaco, Italy, and Croatia. I've been hearing a lot of bad stories from people about how they got robbed and how "clever" they are.

It is scary hearing about all this and it makes me wonder what can I do so I don't get robbed? Are they any experienced travelers that can suggest what I can do (such as what should I bring when we are touring, the best place to hide your valuables, etc)?

I think the last thing anyone wants is their vacation ruined because they were robbed.

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Hang on - is this theft on the ships, or do you mean on land? –  Mark Mayo Sep 23 '13 at 3:49
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Seriously, crime is not that common in Western Europe. Follow the common sense precautions listed in the answers below, but don't worry about it too much. –  Grzenio Sep 23 '13 at 9:06
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Another thing to remember is that some people (shops etcetera) will try to make you part with more of your money than you intended by exploiting the fact that you are unfamiliar with the currency. If using cash familiarize yourself with the coins and notes, don't hold a large wad of notes in your hand whilst looking for a small amount of cash and don't let people "help" you find the correct amount. –  Constanta Sep 23 '13 at 10:23
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I would agree that crime is not high in Western Europe, but I would counter that with the observation that there are more scammers, pickpockets, and other dodgy/sketchy types hanging around tourist attractions there where locals don't spend much time but where tourists spend the majority of their time. So Europe is safe generally but being an obvious foreign tourist, especially an inexperienced one is far from the general situation. –  hippietrail Sep 23 '13 at 10:47
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4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I don't know if cruise ships have safes in the rooms, but they're bound to have somewhere secure. Leave everything you do not absolutely need there when going visiting countries. Take as little money as you need and maybe one bank card.

I think the biggest problem in those areas are pickpockets and bag snatchers, so get a money belt or something else where you can keep your valuables under your clothes. If you have a bag keep a good hold of it, if it's a backpack wear it on your front (not on your back over one shoulder). Better not to carry a bag at all if you can.

If you carry a wallet keep it in your front pocket, but keep it as empty as possible.

Try not to look like a tourist, don't flash large amounts of cash -- go to the bathroom to move cash from your money belt to your pockets if necessary. Don't wear expensive jewelry or watches, small point and shoot cameras are better than the big SLR ones, but if you have a big one consider carrying it in a non-descript bag and only taking it out when necessary.

Be aware of your surroundings, particularly if people are doing something odd to distract you or trying to invade your personal space. Pickpockets I've experienced in western Europe tend to either be fairly blatant -- they come right up to you on some pretext and just grab what they can, or they have someone distract you while someone else grabs your stuff.

But also, don't worry too much, just minimize what you can potentially lose and be aware. As I've said before here -- you just need to look like a less tempting target than the other tourists (terrible, but true), so the mere fact that it looks like you're paying attention to your stuff will make many pickpockets just move on.

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It does suck, but yes they are looking for the most obvious tourists first. Also try and move around with purpose since looking lost is a sure sign to potential thieves. –  Andrew Sep 23 '13 at 8:51
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Lots of good advice (+1) but there is something of a contradiction between “backpack […] on your front” and “Try not to look like a tourist” ;-) –  Relaxed Sep 23 '13 at 14:40
    
@Annoyed -- heh, true. Maybe I should rephrase, 'try to not to look like a clueless tourist'. ;) –  SpaceDog Sep 23 '13 at 23:44
  • Leave all you valuables on the Cruise ship. Usually there will be a little hotel-style safe in your cabin. Leave your wallet here. Work out the maximum you need for the day for what you are planning + 10 %.

  • When you leave the ship take off your Seapass / Cruise card that identifies you on-board ship. Put it in a secure pocket. You will now just look like a random tourist.

  • Try and avoid dressing like a tourist. (See other questions on here about how to do that). You will now not look like a Cruise goer and most scammers will ignore you and go after easier targets.

  • If you are really paranoid take an excursion booked on the ship. These are usually 20 % more expensive than tours you book yourself. The only worry with these is they will take you to their brother-in-laws shop and try and sell you tourist tat.

Having said this, most Cruise ports are very safe. None of them want to be known for making Cruise goer's lives a misery. This might cause the Cruise ships to not call again.

I find the main problems are taxi / tour touts outside the Cruise / Harbour complex. Walk out and and about three blocks and you will generally pay less.

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If you take precautions and use common sense then you will be less likely to have any problems, as SpaceDog says if you don't flash expensive cameras and other items around then you will attract less attention from thieves.

Certainly be aware of people coming up to and distracting you by trying to get you to sign petitions etc., as they are most likely a scam while an accomplice tries to pickpocket you. This was the most common thing I've encountered in tourist areas in Europe.

Above all don't let worrying about it stop you from enjoying your trip!

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Many people also simply want you to actually sign a petition or perhaps, after that, to voluntarily make a donation to their cause, no theft involved… –  Relaxed Sep 23 '13 at 14:43

To add to all the above answers, I can give you an additional piece of advice. Don't let anyone help you when getting tickets from a ticket machine and the like. If in doubt how the machine works, better use a counter. I have been stolen 20 € trying to get a subway ticket in Milan (the bill was snatched by a bystanding lady after the machine refused it). Of course it is always stupid in hindsight, but at the moment, when you are confused and not exactly sure what to do, you probably are quite vulnerable to be tricked.

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It seems they like to prey on the train stations so the best thing is to stay away from the train stations. I heard a similar story where the thief acted like his ticket wouldn't scan so he asked these people if he could go through the gate with them and not knowing, they said yes. As he went through with them, he grabbed him and pick pocketed him. Another story involved people going down an escalator, they stopped the escalator and everyones bags and items went flying. Within minutes, they had stolen everyones wallets and purses. –  ub3rst4r Sep 24 '13 at 17:08

protected by Mark Mayo Sep 24 '13 at 13:22

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