Boutiques on board dazzle with displays of duty-free items, and you can come away with a great find or two if you follow a few rules.
Do your research before the trip so you’ll have an idea of what you’re looking for and be less likely to buy something simply on a whim.
PERUSE THE SHOPS
Cruise lines are great places for retail therapy, and larger luxury ships devote entire decks to shopping malls — Cunard, for example, has the Royal Arcade in the style of London’s Burlington Arcade. Prices are legitimately duty-free, without local taxes, as the ships don’t trade on shore. In fact, they’re open only on sea days and closed in port.
FIND THE DEALS
Prices can be competitive with onshore retail, and you’re unlikely to come across a fake handbag or diamond ring, as cruise lines have reputations to uphold. Make sure you know the recommended retail price of an item before you buy, though. Prices fluctuate throughout the cruise, too, so it’s smart not to buy everything in a mad rush on your first day on board. Check your daily cruise guide to find out about special sales and promotions.
MAKE SURE YOU LOVE IT
Before you buy a big-ticket item, such as fine jewellery or art, make sure you really want it. You’ll still have to declare any items to customs that exceed your personal limit when you return.