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Why is shopping so popular while on a cruise (Part I)???

Updated: Apr 24

Shopping is a BIG part of the cruise experience both onboard your cruise ship and in the ports of call that you visit. Get to know the ins and outs, to make sure this experience will be one of your cruise highlights...

Many ports of call, worldwide, will offer you fantastic opportunities to purchase unique items from various ports of call, such as:

  • Local handmade crafts, artwork, jewelry, and souvenirs that reflect the culture and traditions of the region.

  • Local spices, chocolates, wines, spirits, or gourmet snacks that are specific to the region you're visiting.

  • Clothing and Accessories, such as sarongs, beachwear, or traditional garments that are representative of the destination's culture. You might also find accessories like hats, scarves, or handbags that are locally made.

  • Local inexpensive souvenirs such as keychains, magnets, postcards, or T-shirts that feature iconic landmarks or symbols of the places you visit.

While cruising, you will also have a fantastic opportunity to purchase a variety of luxury merchandise, including Perfumes and Fragrances, Cosmetics and Skincare, Fashion and Accessories, Spirits and Wines, Designer Handbags and Accessories and the most popular items, Gemstones, Jewlery and Watches, mostly at duty-free and discounted prices.


Whether you should buy luxury brands on a cruise ship or in the ports of call depends on several factors, including pricing, authenticity, selection, and convenience. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:

Pricing: While duty-free shopping onboard cruise ships can offer significant savings compared to retail prices on land, it's essential to research and compare prices for specific luxury items you're interested in purchasing. Sometimes, you may find better deals or promotions in certain ports of call, especially if the destination is known for its shopping discounts or has lower taxes.

Authenticity: Be cautious when purchasing luxury goods, especially in ports of call where counterfeit products may be more prevalent. Cruise ship shops typically guarantee the authenticity of their merchandise, providing a level of assurance that may be lacking in some local stores. However, reputable stores in popular tourist destinations often sell genuine luxury items as well, so it's crucial to shop at trusted retailers.

Selection: Cruise ship boutiques typically offer a curated selection of luxury brands, focusing on popular and high-demand items. While you may find a decent assortment of products onboard, the selection can be more limited compared to shopping in major cities or shopping districts in port cities. If you're looking for specific styles, colors, or sizes, you may have better luck finding them in dedicated luxury boutiques ashore.

Convenience: Shopping onboard a cruise ship can be convenient, as you have the opportunity to browse and make purchases without leaving the comfort of the ship. Additionally, you don't have to worry about currency exchange, language barriers, or transportation to and from shopping areas. However, if you enjoy exploring local markets and shopping districts as part of your travel experience, shopping in ports of call can offer a more immersive and culturally enriching experience.

Ultimately, the decision to buy luxury brands on a cruise ship or in the ports of call depends on your personal preferences, priorities, and the specific circumstances of your cruise. I highly suggest you research both options in advance, compare prices and product availability, and consider factors such as authenticity, prices, assurance, and convenience to determine the best shopping strategy for your needs.

The most popular shopping question I got asked while working on board was "what are my allowances"? Duty-free shopping rules vary depending on the country you're visiting and your country of residence. Here are some general guidelines for duty-free shopping outside the USA:

Know Your Allowances: Each country has specific allowances for duty-free purchases, including limits on the value and quantity of goods you can bring back without paying duties or taxes. These allowances can vary depending on factors such as your length of stay abroad and the country you're returning to.

Check Duty-Free Limits: Before making purchases, familiarize yourself with the duty-free limits of the country you're visiting and your home country. Duty-free allowances typically include limits on alcohol, tobacco, perfume, and other goods.

Keep Receipts: Keep all receipts for items you purchase duty-free. You may need to present these receipts when returning to your home country to prove the value of your purchases and claim any duty-free allowances.

Declare Your Purchases: When returning to the USA, you are required to declare all goods you acquired abroad, including those purchased duty-free. Failure to declare items correctly can result in fines or confiscation of goods by customs officials.

Be Aware of Restricted Items: Certain items, such as firearms, agricultural products, and endangered species, may be restricted or prohibited from entering the USA or your home country. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations regarding restricted items before making purchases.

Consider Global Entry or Trusted Traveler Programs: If you frequently travel internationally, you may consider enrolling in programs such as Global Entry or Trusted Traveler Programs, which offer expedited clearance through customs and immigration upon arrival in the USA.

Research Duty-Free Shops: Many ports of call have duty-free shops where you can purchase goods at reduced prices. Research duty-free shopping options at your destination to take advantage of potential savings.

Know Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with your rights as a consumer when shopping abroad, including return policies, warranties, and guarantees. Be cautious when purchasing high-value items and ensure you understand the terms and conditions of the sale.

It's essential to check the specific duty-free shopping rules and regulations of the country you're visiting and consult with the on-board team, as well as customs officials or official government websites for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Additionally, consider consulting a customs broker or tax professional for personalized advice regarding duty-free shopping if you are planning to make a significant purchase, especially with regards to loose Diamonds and Gemstones.

Part II

What luxury brands are available, and what are the most popular and high-demand items to purchase?


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