Cruise passengers are just like other tourists-- with the exception of their arrival style.
Hiding on a humungous ships as it sails into port on publicly available schedules is impossible. Large groups of people, completely unfamiliar with the area, are on the ground in a matter of minutes. This combination of unavoidable factors could put naive cruise passengers at risk.
Most tourists have trouble-free trips but some become victims of crime when they step off the boat.
There were a total of 29 criminal offenses on-board ships in the first three months of 2016, according to the Department of Transportation, 23 more than the previous three months.
The majority of them are non-violent muggings but incidents of robberies at gunpoint, sexual assaults, extortion, and murder have been reported by various authorities.
Cruise travelers are seen as easy targets because they usually have some cash, won’t stay in town for long, and don’t speak the local language.
The countries in the following list have been selected based on the Global Peace Index (GPI) from the Institute for Economics and Peace and security reports by the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Bureau of Consular Affairs. Always use caution when traveling, and heed the guidance of your tour group operator.
Colombia is the 17th most dangerous county in the world, according to GPI, but it's also one of the world's most popular cruising destinations with Cartagena located on the country's northern coast.
The South American nation has long had a reputation for high crime rates largely due to gang wars. Bribery, extortion, drug trafficking and theft are some of the bigger concerns for tourists. Insurgent groups are known to set up roadblocks to rob and kidnap travelers.
Many of the cruise companies that shceduled stop at any Turkish port have rerouted their ships due to recent terror attacks.
Crime rates are moderate and locals are friendly and hospitable, according to OSAC, but terrorist threats and suicide bombings are a mounting concern.
More than 200 people have been killed over the last year. Just recently, an explosion at Istanbul airport, one of the busiest in Europe, left 45 dead and more than 200 injured.
Venezuela is one of the top 25 most dangerous countries in the world and recent financial issues have only made it more unstable for locals and visitors.
“Venezuela has remained one of the deadliest countries in the world, as increasing violence and criminal activity resulted in unprecedented levels for 2015,” according to the State Department.
The crime rate is “critical” due to theft, murder, kidnapping, drug trafficking, and disease outbreak threats. Rampant poverty and shortage of basic goods have exacerbated the security situation.
In 2014, a cruise passenger was murdered on Margarita Island, a popular cruise port, during a robbery.
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Egypt is ranked 22 as the world’s most dangerous country, according to GPI. There are restrictions on photographing certain sites, including the Suez Canal, and police can interpret people’s actions very broadly, according to the State Department. In addition to civilian harrassment, law enforcement officials may also take advantage of forgeiners not used to the local customs.
Civil unrest and sporadic sectarian violence are also a concern. In addition to potential violence, most Nile cruises do not have a doctor on board, which could be devastating during an accident or illness aboard.
Mexico’s crime rate still remains high. “Wrong-place/wrong-time violence is the greatest threat to personal safety, and the risk is as likely in upscale as well as lower-income areas,” OSAC says.
Homicides, assaults and robberies have been major concerns for tourists since the mid 2000s. Certain places, such as Acapulco, have army soldiers deployed to maintain security.
Reports of masked men robbing passengers at gunpoint on their way back to the ship are not uncommon. Mazatlán is a popular cruise port but the crime rate there is very high as well, according to OSAC
Many cruise lines travel to the Philippines, docking at Manila and a few islands of the archipelago.
But crime is a significant concern in urban areas with theft, physical assault and robbery being most common crimes reported to local authorities last year, according to OSAC.
Several militant groups see kidnap-for-ransom as way to fund their operations, and foreigners are often targeted. Crimes related to methamphetamine production and distribution are also a concern.
The level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high, although it has declined in the past two years, according to the latest travel warning issued by the State Department.
The country has one of the highest murder rates in the world – in 2012, 20 people a day were killed on average, according to the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University. Ten Americans have been killed in the country since January 2014.