If you’re going on a Caribbean cruise something that you should be aware of is that oftentimes things are not as perfect as they seem to be on the cruise line website or in Cruise brochures and as a matter of fact it is quite possible that you might encounter some common and even some less common Caribbean Port scams that you’ll want to be aware of.

1. Ladies with Fruit Photo Scam

One popular scam involves locals dressing up in traditional clothing and adorning themselves with fruit baskets or other props. They approach unsuspecting tourists and offer to take pictures with them for a fee. Sometimes, tourists are unaware of the charge until after the picture has been taken, resulting in uncomfortable confrontations. To avoid this scam, simply decline politely and continue on your way. If you still wish to take a picture, agree on a price beforehand to ensure there are no misunderstandings later.

2. Fake Vanilla Scam

Another scam targets food lovers who want to purchase authentic vanilla extract. Some vendors sell falsified vanilla filled with water or cheap substitutes, putting consumers at risk. Although we cannot confirm exactly where this occurs, we recommend purchasing vanilla or any consumables from reputable stores inside the designated shopping areas near cruise terminals rather than street markets. This precaution ensures you receive genuine goods without worrying about tampering.

3. Hats on Heads Tourist Scam

Upon arrival at certain ports, tourists may notice persistent individuals offering free hats or placing them on visitors’ heads without permission. These vendors expect payment once the item has been placed on someone’s head. Our advice? Politely refuse and walk away firmly yet respectfully. Refrain from engaging further, especially if you aren’t interested in making a purchase. Be cautious about letting strangers add anything to your attire, as this creates pressure to reciprocate financially.

4. Unreputable Taxi Scam

This scam typically happens when pre-paying taxis before reaching the intended destination. Upon arrival, the driver demands extra cash despite having already received payment. One instance involved a couple who paid for a taxi via credit card but were forced to hand over additional money due to lack of proof of payment. To protect yourself, consider paying per segment (halfway through and again at the endpoint) or opting for trusted transportation methods such as ride-sharing services or official shuttle buses. Additionally, verify your driver’s credentials and vehicle details before departing.

5. Local Wildlife Spotters Scam

In this scenario, locals mislead tourists into believing they can show them exotic animals or plants in exchange for compensation. Often, these “guides” lead unsuspecting visitors astray and demand payment after pointing out ordinary sights. We experienced this firsthand during our stop in Costa Rica, where others reported feeling pressured into paying for minimal guidance. Stay vigilant and avoid following anyone claiming to spot rare creatures unless you’ve arranged a legitimate guided excursion.

6. Additional Safety Measures

To minimize risks associated with pickpocketing and petty theft, follow these guidelines:

  • Leave valuable jewelry onboard
  • Bring smaller denomination bills ($1, $5, $10)
  • Familiarize yourself with the proper name and location of your docking pier
  • Carry emergency contact numbers and essential documents securely

By staying informed and proactive, you can significantly reduce the chances of becoming a target for scammers or thieves during your Caribbean cruise adventure. Safe travels!

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