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Simple tips to safely take a cruise ship shore excursion

10 May 2024
Calista Kiper

Cruise ships offer exciting shore excursions to unique areas, but how can you make sure they’re safe?

Shore excursion safety tips

Royal Caribbean cruises have the appeal of taking you to multiple exciting ports of call, from the gorgeous landscapes of Alaska to the ancient ruins of Greece. 

But when you’re traveling to a new and foreign location, safety is always a top priority.

Ensuring that you have a safe, enjoyable experience during your shore excursions takes some careful preparation.

While most shore excursions come with safety in mind and experience tour guides, being smart and proactive is the best way to stay safe.

Especially if you have special concerns (like pregnancy or a disability), are traveling alone, or haven’t been on a cruise before, some extra research and preparation will help you stay protected throughout your cruise.

Here are our top tips for safely taking a cruise ship shore excursion at any port of call.

1. Book through the cruise line

One of the simplest ways to tour a port of call is by purchasing a shore excursion through Royal Caribbean.

Although more expensive, shore excursions sold through Royal Caribbean have been carefully reviewed.

The tour groups and guides have been vetted.

Royal Caribbean

Not only that, but the cruise ship will also wait for your excursion if it runs late.

You’ll be perfectly safe from being left behind in a foreign place!

Read more8 cruise ship shore excursions our readers tried and instantly regretted

2. Research extensively beforehand


Before you even purchase your preferred shore excursions, take your time to research each aspect of the experience.

Investigate each port of call you’ll be visiting. Even if you have multiple stops in the same country, don’t assume that they’re all the same.

Research will tell you about the safety level, available activities, the landscape, weather, and other important information.

You’ll also need the specific details for your shore excursion: the price, duration, activity level, and dress code.

Knowing all this beforehand helps prepare you for a safe and fun experience.

Read moreIs Royal Caribbean still going to Labadee, Haiti?

3. Don’t be afraid to speak up

RC Cozumel

I was on a cruise that stopped at Cozumel, Mexico, and was walking through the busy tourist port, when an older man approached me and offered me an already-opened bottle of beer.

When I politely refused, he started to insist that I drink, saying it didn’t matter if I was underage.

I firmly said no, and kept quickly walking.

Can you imagine what might have happened if I had gotten nervous, hadn’t said no, or even agreed to drink the beer?

Beer at all inclusive resort

Being firm, smart, and unafraid to speak up when something seems wrong is a key way to protect yourself.

Of course, you want to be aware of cultural differences, and be careful that you don’t degrade any local customs.

Read moreTop 10 cruise ship shore excursion mistakes to avoid

But your safety is what’s important here, so speak up if something feels wrong! 

Trust your intuition, and don’t let anyone make a sucker out of you.

4. Listen to your tour guide

Cruise ship bus tour excursion

Your shore excursion’s tour guides will be the best source of knowledge about your port of call.

They are extremely trained and experienced in doing exactly what you need: keeping you safe while giving you a fun experience!

Listen to their safety briefings, which will involve important information about safety, meeting points, and any potential hazards.

Family on Alaska tour

Take note of any guidelines they give you.

When you’re in any unfamiliar or remote area, listening to experts is the best way to keep yourself safe.

If you do experience any problems or feel unsafe at any time, let your guide know that you need help.

5. How to keep your money safe on excursions

Alaska by kayak

You're probably going to need cash during your shore excursion, whether to pay the tour, tip someone, or purchase souvenirs.  So how do you keep that safe, especially when you're on a beach or snorkeling trip?

As a tourist, try to keep a low profile, and don't wear jewelry or hold large amounts of cash. 

Your best bet is to treat valuables, such as cash, like you would normally at home.  Keep it in a wallet, and ensure it's out of sight in either your pants, purse, or backpack.

Woman book beach bag

If you prefer, there are various types of waterproof wallets you can purchase. A simple dry pack that can fit your cash, identification, SeaPass card, and a credit card is all you need (Note, this link is an affiliate link that costs you nothing extra to use).

No matter where you store your cash, keep it out of sight. Put valuables in a bag, and then cover it up so a passerby cannot see it easily. 

If you're somewhere where pickpocketing is a concern, you can carry valuables in a hidden pocket worn under your clothing.

6. Stay with your tour group

Cuba tour driver

For additional safety, try to stay with your group. 

Traveling with a larger group—one of whom is an experienced tour guide—ensures that no one can single you out or take advantage of you.

While some tours do have opportunities for you to explore along, try not to wander too far.

There’s safety in numbers. 

Not only that, but a Royal Caribbean shore excursion will consist of other people on the same cruise ship, and who likely speak the same language as you. They’re a great source of help if you run into any problems.

Even when in a big group, make sure you also stay vigilant of your surroundings!

7. Respect local laws and customs

This is where doing research ahead of time really comes in handy.

To keep yourself safe, you need to understand the context of where you are traveling.

What is considered polite and respectful? What should you wear? Who should you speak to—and who should you not?

Familiarizing yourself with the local traditions and laws ensures that you don’t accidentally do anything considered disrespectful or offensive.

You are a visitor to this country, so make sure that you educate yourself and respect all cultural differences.

Read more: 5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own

8. Get an Internet connection

Celebrity internet

While this isn’t required—and it’s certainly trickier when you’re in a new country—having Internet access can really ease your mind when it comes to personal safety.

You have an easy way to do immediate research. You’ll have access to Google Translate, local maps, and a way to call or text anyone if you’re in an emergency.

There are a few ways you can get an Internet connection when you’re off the cruise ship in a foreign country.

You can try to find a restaurant or cafe that has free WiFi. Many areas understand that tourists may need Internet access, and they’ll be happy to provide it to you if you purchase something.

You could also buy a SIM card to get local data. These are sold everywhere, such as in airports or near currency exchanges.

If you need an e-SIM, there are several ways to buy them online. I like to use the app Airlo, which allows you to buy an e-SIM for any country and choose a specific timeline for it to be activated.

Simple tips to safely take a cruise ship shore excursion

Calista Kiper graduated from Wheaton College, IL, with a B.A. in English Writing. 

Growing up traveling around the world, she developed a passion for diversity and cross-cultural communication. From her first cruise on Wonder of the Seas, she has delighted in the intersection between travel, diversity, and writing in the cruising world.

Calista spends her free time reading, cooking, and researching the latest human-interest stories. 

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