From designer duds to specialty shops, cruise ships boast a spectacular shopping scene: and they have a captive audience, you! We’re giving you a first-hand look into cruise shopping, so the next time you set sail you can easily navigate the world of retail; alleviating merchandise mayhem!

What types of shops are onboard?

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The better question may be: what shops are not onboard a cruise ship? Most major cruise lines offer just about anything and everything you may need (or want). Boutique shops, kids clothing, luxury jewelry, souvenirs, fragrance, games, even artwork are available to satisfy your retail wishes. Shops vary among cruise lines, but most ships encompass a large variety of luxury retailers including, Chanel, Michael Kors, TAG, Gucci, Furla and more. 

Bonus! These items are duty-free!

What is duty-free?

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Bottom line? Better prices. Not to be confused with tax-free, duty-free means that the usual taxes imposed on imported items (cigarettes, alcohol, perfume, fine jewelry) are exempt from the payment of individual local taxes(or duties). Meaning, if you are buying items internationally, you are essentially paying taxes twice; once in the country where the items are purchased and again when you bring your merchandise back to the U.S. When you shop duty-free, you are exempt from taxes (VAT) on the items bought internationally. Remember, shops are only open when the ship is in international waters, 50 miles after leaving port. Shops close when the ship is in port.

Is there a limit to how much I can bring back?

Yes. You can bring up to $800 worth of duty-free goods back to the U.S. without paying additional fees. The $800 allotment is per person. So if you’re traveling with kids, they also can bring back $800 worth of merchandise.

How do I know if I am getting a good deal?

By knowing the average retail price of the items you are interested in before you set sail, you will immediately be able to discern if your duty-free items are a good deal. A helpful travel website; Duty-Free Addict, compares duty-free prices online. 

Watch for sales listed in the daily cruise newsletter and “trunk sales” as well — these flash sales offer great prices, especially on gemstones and fine jewelry. The best part about shopping onboard a cruise ship is the price you see is the price you pay. There are no additional taxes added on. 

What duty-free items should I buy?

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Now is the time to buy those rare gemstones or that fancy watch you’ve been eying. Fragrance, cosmetics, designer handbags, alcohol, and cigarettes are the most purchased duty-free items.

Cruise companies profile passengers. Most likely, the stores on board already fit your personality. Couple this with great prices and duty-free merchandise and savvy shoppers can typically score some great deals.