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14 Clever Tips to Make Your Cruise Beach Day Better Than Ever
14 Clever Tips to Make Your Cruise Beach Day Better Than Ever

How Not to Look Like a Tourist on a Cruise

Erica Silverstein
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Portrait of a lost tourist with bag holding map

When a mega-ship disgorges thousands of people onto a Pacific island or European city, it's pretty easy for locals at the pier to figure out who's a tourist and who's not. The truth is, your language and accent, skin colour, even haircut will give you away as a foreigner in many places, even if you keep a low profile. You can't help it.

You might not even care if people do recognise you as someone from another country. The goal is to not look like a gullible tourist (i.e. someone to be scammed) and to respect the region you're visiting.

In the interest of blending in a little better, check out our tips for how not to look like a tourist when you're exploring in port on your next cruise. Once onboard, feel free to look as much like a tourist as you'd like -- there are no locals on a cruise. Just try to observe stated dress codes.

Leave the flag at home.

Your Australian flag T-shirt and boardshorts printed with the Southern Cross will mark you as a tourist even before anyone hears your accent. Ditto your favourite football or rugby jersey. We're glad you feel national pride, but please keep the patriotic clothes at home -- or for onboard use only.

Just say no to selfie sticks

Just say no to selfie sticks.

Australians are not the only travellers in love with selfies, but most locals don't keep selfie sticks in their purses, to whip out on their daily commute or weekly shopping outing. If you're waving your camera around on a stick, like a conductor leading an orchestra, everyone will know you're off the ship.

Rethink your footwear.

Bright white sneakers, Crocs and thongs in Europe and other non-beachside destinations will peg you as a visitor because locals just don't wear those types of shoes. Opt instead for sturdy, closed-toe walking shoes for touring. The exception is laidback and beachy locales -- think the South Pacific and Australia -- where thongs and sandals are the norm.

Lose the active wear.

Lots of Aussies love showing off their fitness (and its fashion) but that doesn’t mean you need to share it with the world. Unless you’re going to hit the gym or go jogging in port, leave your workout gear on the ship.


Don't wear your keycard.

It might be OK in the casino to wear your keycard on a lanyard around your neck, but when you leave the ship, put your keycard in your wallet or throw the lanyard in your bag. You wouldn't walk around at home with your Visa on a necklace.

Put your gear away.

Juggling your camera, tourist information map, mobile phone and brochures as you leave the cruise terminal will not only make you stand out as a tourist, it makes you likely to lose something or walk into a pole that you can't see for all the stuff in your hands. Keep your gear in a discreet neutral-coloured bag and pull it out on the sly -- not in the middle of a busy intersection.

Don't wear hiking clothes unless you're hiking.

We don't quite understand it, but some travellers love wearing hiking clothing abroad -- whether they are hiking up a mountain, through a museum or across a bustling city. Leave the zip-off pants and bug-repellent, SPF shirts at home when you're on that European river cruise.

Skip the obvious name brands.

Whether it's the shirt emblazoned with Billabong or the bejewelled T-shirt touting the name of your cruise ship, loudly branded clothing does not help you blend into a crowd. Opt for solid colours or tasteful patterns -- and remember that Hawaiian shirts are only OK in Hawaii or beach destinations like Fiji where colourful attire is the norm.

Beach Bag

Choose the right bag.

If you're onshore for the day, you'll need a bag to carry your water, beach towel, camera, umbrella and other necessities. If you want to tour incognito, leave behind backpacks or brightly coloured-yet-utilitarian travel bags for subtle totes and satchels that you'd carry to work or in your hometown. And for the love of god, ditch the bum bag! They are an embarrassment no matter where in the world you are.

Navigate discreetly.

We get it. You're in a foreign city and you have no idea where you're going. Still, you don't need to be obvious about getting directions. Look at a map before you leave the ship, and have an idea of where you want to go first. If you need to consult a map, duck into a shop or find a quiet corner -- don't unfold some huge thing as you march down the main drag. If you're a high-tech traveller, don't have Siri shouting directions to you; check your phone on the sly, or opt for a silent mode with the phone buzzing when you need to turn.

Updated January 08, 2020

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