To some cruisers, retail therapy is a prime component of sailing. They love spending time poking around in the shops on board their ships, picking up souvenirs or logo T-shirts and hats.
But be cautious about what you purchase, says Cruise Critic. You may be able to pick up some bargains, especially at the end of the trip, but many purchases have been steeply marked up. You could end up paying double what you would spend at home.
What products should you steer away from?
Liquor: Skip the on-board liquor store. Despite signs that advertise duty-free deals, you’re better off buying liquor in your own home town at a warehouse store than buying on board and trying to carry it back home.
Your cruise company probably won’t allow you to buy a bottle on the ship to drink in your cabin. Most lines won’t let you do that because they want you to spend money purchasing individual drinks. (Liquor sales are among the most lucrative products aboard.)
When you buy at the ship’s liquor store, the bottles usually are packaged and handed to you on the last day of your cruise, Cruise Critic says.
Personal care products: Many people don’t worry too much about bringing toothpaste, disposable razors and sunscreen aboard.
They assume that if they forget something small, they can always pick it up on board. But prices are high. If you forget to bring something, buy it at your first port stop.
Medications: Aspirin, cold pills and motion sickness pills are in the same category as personal care products. They seem unimportant — until you really need them.
Put together a small first-aid kit with pain relievers, vitamin supplements and other important medications and always take it with you on board. You’ll save money and be able to use products you’re already familiar with.
Expect to pay a high fee if you need prescription medications; you’ll have to visit the ship’s doctor, and insurance won’t cover the cost.
Electronics: Don’t buy a camera or other electronics, unless you’re buying something small, such as a memory card, Cruise Critic recommends.
“Any money you save won’t be worth the hassle of trying to deal with product returns/exchanges, warranties or any post-purchase maintenance — and we’ve heard some horror stories from Cruise Critic members.”