When enjoying a holiday on the high seas, there are good reasons to throw off your cruise passenger looks and behaviour to blend in like a local. Besides being more likely to discover places off the beaten path, not standing out in a crowd can also be safer when exploring solo. Here are some tips on how to look like a local in port.
1. Do some research before you cruise
This is especially important if you’re cruising to remote or exotic ports of call, so read up about the destinations before you leave home. Also, if you’re hoping to explore independently from the ship, have a rough plan including where you want to go, what you want to see and where things are in location to your ship.
2. Brush up on thee local lingo and customs
No one expects you be fluent in Mandarin, but learning key words, polite phrases and greetings can go a long way in many places, and are handy if you’re using public transport or are in search of the perfect souvenir, where bargaining is essential. Customs, including tipping, also vary widely, and doing the wrong thing is a quick way to be spotted as a tourist. So get acquainted with the common dos and don’ts for your ports of call.
3. Use local transport
Work out how to get around in places you plan to explore on your own, and when public transport is a good option. Be sure to check the timings of buses or trains, whether you have to use local currency to pay to travel, how to pay and whether services are reliable. Also pay attention; you don’t want to end up on a train in the Korean countryside by daydreaming.
4. Explore on foot or use a bike
Exploring on foot is a great way to discover many places, but if you are going off the beaten track, make sure it is safe. In some cities, venturing a single block away from a tourist area can land you in trouble. If you want to cover more ground, or burn off some calories, consider renting a bike or motorbike, but take care if you stop for lunch or explore a museum; always secure your bike, and take any valuables with you.
5. Dress appropriately
Have an idea of what the weather is likely to be in each port, as you don’t want to be caught out. But if you’re visiting countries with a strong religious culture, you may need to cover up, or cover up to visit certain sights, such as the temples in Thailand. Also be wary in some countries when it comes to wearing jewellery and fancy clothes, as they may attract the wrong kind of attention; leave any valuables you don’t need on board, including excess cash, credit cards and your passport (unless you need it for ID).
6. Pay attention, be discreet
Exploring with a guidebook and camera in hand is a clear sign to everyone, including pickpockets, that you’re a tourist. If you need to take time out to observe your surroundings, or take a photo, step aside and out of the way, and be aware of what’s going on around you. Finally, remember you are a visitor, and representing your home country, so don’t get drunk, be loud or rude, or generally behave badly. And don’t break the law, as no one wants to be the cause of a phone call from a police station to the ship’s captain!
To find out more about cruising or to find the cruise of your dreams within your budget, visit CruiseGuide.com.au