All Aboard!—Security Tips for Cruise Ship Vacations

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All Aboard!—Security Tips for Cruise Ship Vacations

Cruise ship vacations are like traveling aboard floating resorts. While the fun events, delicious food, and relaxing waters can make for a wonderful getaway, like any vacation resort, cruise ships aren’t without their risks. One of those risks is crime involving theft and burglary. 

To ensure your well-deserved cruise ship vacation remains crime free, follow these important security tips.

Security Tips for Luggage

Most grievances filed by cruise ship passengers involve the loss, damage, or theft of luggage. To ensure your bags and their contents remain secured, follow these important tips:

  • Make a list of everything you pack inside each piece of luggage and take photos of everything. 
  • Keep important items such as eyeglasses, electronics, medication, jewelry, etc. in a carry-on bag that you can keep with you when you arrive to board the ship.
  • Make copies of your passport, driver’s license, and other forms of ID and credit cards in your wallet. Bring one or more copies with you and keep an additional copy at home. Giving a copy to a close friend or family member who is not traveling with you can also be helpful.
  • Ensure your luggage is as average looking as possible yet durable. Luggage that looks expensive will attract thieves, as expensive bags usually contain other expensive items. 


  • Do not let your luggage out of your sight until it comes time to check your bags. Verify that the correct ID tags are placed on your bags by the cruise ship staff before allowing them to be taken for boarding. 

Cabin Security Tips

Though your assigned cabin is your private sleeping quarters, don’t assume it is always going to be secure. It is not uncommon for housekeeping employees to leave cabin doors ajar. Some employees also have the ability to access cabins for emergency purposes. Some employees may also be thieves themselves. 

To ensure you and your personal belongings remain safe and secure in your cruise chip cabin, following these tips:

  • Use all of the locks on your cabin door when you are inside the room.
  • DO NOT open the door to your cabin to someone you aren’t expecting. Speak to the person through the locked door. If they claim to be staff, verify their identity by calling the main desk on the cruise ship. If you’re traveling with children, make sure they follow the same rule—have them leave answering the door to an adult.
  • Whenever you return to your cabin, take a look around inside the bathroom, closets, and other potential hiding places. Keep your door open while you perform this important security check. 
  • Do not leave valuables unsecured in your room. If you cannot take them with you, do not try hiding them somewhere in the room. Thieves know where most passengers tend to hide things and they will look everywhere. If the cabin has a safe, use it. Otherwise ask to store your important or valuable items such as large amounts of cash, jewelry, and passport in the cruise ship’s safe. Every ship has one!

Security Tips for Your Family

If you traveling with children, take time to set up some rules before leaving for your trip to help keep everyone safe. Here are some important tips to keep in mind when creating your safety and security plan:

  • Educate your children so that they are aware of the potential crimes, scams, pickpockets, sex offenders, etc. that pose a threat to your family’s safety. The goal of the conversation is not to frighten your children, but to increase their awareness.
  • If you are going to allow your children to walk about the cruise ship without you, set up check-in times and curfews. Be sure to discuss instructions on what each child should do if they become lost on the ship. 
  • Ensure your children understand the reasons to NEVER go anywhere on the cruise ship with someone they don’t know. This includes cruise ship employees and other passengers and their children. Though it may be fun to make a new friend, ensure your children understand the importance of staying in public areas and to avoid wandering off.


  • No matter how old your children are, supervise their activities as often as possible. NEVER leave young children unattended!

Word of Caution 

Not every ocean territory is governed by U.S. laws. In fact, there are numerous cruise ship vacations that involve traveling among foreign territory and international waters. 

Open waters are governed by International Maritime Law (IML). One of the problems with the IML doctrine is that its laws are not as specific as laws governed by the United States. Should a crime occur while you are traveling among international waters, it may be handled a lot differently than the way the U.S. might handle it. 

The FBI is responsible for investing crimes that occur among international waters that involve U.S. citizens, and they usually only handle major crimes. The FBI does not usually involve itself with crimes such as cruise ship theft and burglary. These crimes are usually handled by the U.S. embassy and jurisdiction of the foreign country closest to the crime. If the perpetrators of a crime are captured, they are turned over to the local port authorities. At that point, it can be very challenging for U.S. citizens to follow the case and its outcome.

For more information about a particular cruise ship’s crime procedures, lost luggage policies, safety record, and other safety and security polices, be sure to visit their website or call and speak to a representative. 

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents over 50 cruise lines, is another excellent resource for learning about cruise ship policies and practices.

Ensure a Fun, Safe and Secure Cruise Ship Vacation

Cruise ship vacations are meant to be enjoyed. To ensure your long-awaited trip is everything you hope it to be, take responsibility for your safety and security by implementing the security tips you learned from this article. Enjoy your trip!