CRUISE TIPS + 12 PHOTOS: Duty-free shopping on cruise ships offers tempting products to buy at terrific prices. Here are the top 10 products to consider buying – especially on sea days when you have more time to wander around.
There’s a wide variety of liquor available to buy when duty-free shopping on cruise ships. You can get incredible deals on items ranging from premium cognacs to world-renown whiskeys. What you see on the shelves is what’s available – some are so expensive they’re under lock and key. In general, you simply fill out a form of your choices and take the list to the cashier.
You won’t be permitted to take liquor back to your cabin. It will likely be delivered to you on the last night of your cruise. Prepare to carry it off in its padded cardboard box (that usually has handles) in the morning, and at the cruise terminal, pack it in your checked luggage if you don’t want to put it in your carry-on bag.
2. Cigarettes and Cigars
You’ll find great duty-free savings on cigarettes and cigars – so much that there may be lineups to buy these items. So buy them early if you’re interested and some cruise lines may allow you to take some packages back to your cabin. The shop staff will let you know what the ship policies are for these items.
If you adore jewelry such as a gorgeous gold necklace or fancy new watch, you can buy beautiful duty-free items on board a cruise ship at a discount. You’ll also find exceptional costume jewelry items at prices from $10. Some products are such great fakes that consider leaving your valuable jewelry at home and buying costume jewelry instead.
Genuine duty-free jewelry, ranging from designer watches to high-quality diamond rings, earrings and necklaces worth thousands of dollars, are also available on a cruise ship at excellent duty-free discounts.
The prices when duty-free shopping on cruise ships might also be negotiable. Most of the popular gemstones such as sapphires, rubies and emeralds are also available. The shop staff are often quite happy to also let you try on the jewelry item of your dreams even if it’s way out of your budget – so don’t be shy and consider trying on that spectacular watch or jaw-dropping rock of a ring just as a shopping thrill.
If you do buy a watch, the shop staff will personally fit the wristband for you. After sizing it, they’ll call you back the next day to pick it up and ensure it fits.
Most of the well-known, high-end cosmetic and skin care brands are available at great duty-free prices at cruise ship shops. You’ll be surprised at the savings in this category so consider investing in a new palette of quality products. Also take advantage of a free makeover if it’s offered.
5. Skincare Products
Name brand skincare products are also available at excellent duty-free prices in cruise ship shops so take this opportunity to try out that better brand you’ve been eyeing now that it’s more affordable. You’ll also notice many items are available in a convenient easy-to-pack travel size.
6. Perfume and Cologne
Duty-free perfumes and colognes are favourite items to buy in duty-free shops on cruise ships – for yourself or as a gift. You can also be sure to get genuine products instead of products that might be watered-down at the shops in port.
Name brand sunglasses are generally less expensive in duty-free cruise ship shops, and there are also cheaper fashion options that are more about the look, than actual eye protection. The authentic ones tend to sell out fast since many cruise ship passengers forget their sunglasses at home or lose them. Whether you’re on an Alaska cruise or Caribbean cruise, the sun can be blinding which makes sunglasses a necessity.
8. Purses, bags and wallets
Cruise ships know how much a person can collect during a cruise. So they often sell purses and bags. Designer purses are also available with great duty-free discounts and you’ll know you’re not getting a fake. Beach bags are generally available and have outstanding quality for a low price since they’re often branded with the cruise line logo and ship name.
Almost all cruise ships have clothing such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and shawls for sale on board. And they also sell some basic formal wear such as ties, black pants and skirts, or white shirts and blouses, just in case you forgot something that you need for formal night or to get into a particular venue. Designer silk scarves are another popular choice that have good duty-free discounts.
You can buy popular souvenirs on board when duty-free shopping on cruise ships although many items have the cruise line or ship name on them to serve as a memory of your cruise. You’ll see holiday ornaments, pens, lanyards, keychains, coffee mugs, plush animal toys and many other affordable souvenirs for yourself or gifts for family and friends.
Tips for Duty-free Shopping on Cruise Ships
Throughout your cruise you’ll receive daily newsletters under your cabin door (or on the cruise line app) that will also inform you of special sales on duty-free products with additional discounts – or sales of completely new items that you didn’t see in the stores.
If you’re a former cruise passenger with the line, you might also get an extra discount so be sure to let them know (although your key card will likely indicate your status).
Also ask the cruise ship shop staff if the items you’re interested in might come on sale later in the week. They may also advise you of how much stock they have in their inventory to help you make your decision as to whether you should buy the item now or take your chances and wait.
Some cruise ships also have raffles for random draws of items in their shops, so get your ticket from the shop and show up at designated time for a chance to win. Most cruise lines insist you must be there in person to get the prize.
At the end of the cruise, shops generally want to clear out their inventory so this can be a great chance to get good deals.
If you think you might want to return an item, check first if that’s possible. In most cases you can get a refund if the item isn’t opened, used and still has the price tag attached.
If you aren’t sure how much you can buy or bring home without paying tax, ask the cruise ship shop employees since they are sometimes familiar with the rules of various countries – or might keep a list on hand. You can also search duty-free buying information on a cruise ship computer at the Internet cafe.
Other cruise ship passengers who are shopping in the stores might also know limits and what’s permitted – especially if they are seasoned cruisers who make duty-free shopping a regular ritual on a cruise. Simply ask someone in line who looks like they’re stocking up on something and find out where they live. People usually love to talk about a “great deal” they got on something and share the joy!
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