What Can I Bring Back on a Cruise Ship?

What Can I Bring Back on a Cruise Ship? Your Ultimate Guide

Before your Shopping Adventure understand what you can and can’t bring back.

The opportunity to explore new destinations on a cruise and bring a piece back is thrilling. One question I used to get asked every cruise when I was a Port & Shopping Guide is, “What can I bring back on a cruise ship?”  I will answer this question below and also provide insights into the best cruise ship souvenirs.  Reveal your customs allowance and provide a list of prohibited items you can’t take back to the UK or USA.  

Understanding Cruise Ship Regulations: Navigating Customs Policies

Before delving into the world of souvenirs, it’s essential to understand the regulations governing what you can bring back on a cruise ship. Each destination may have its own set of rules, so familiarizing yourself with these guidelines is crucial.

Shopping in St. Maarten.

Customs Regulations for UK Citizens

For UK citizens, bringing back souvenirs from a cruise involves adhering to the guidelines set by His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). As of my last knowledge.  Travellers returning to the UK are typically allowed a duty-free allowance, including a limit on alcohol, tobacco, and other goods. It’s advisable to check the HMRC website or consult with cruise staff to stay updated on any changes in regulations.  Here is the link to the website for all the latest information. YOu do have an allowance so you might as well use it.  Click here to access the Gov.UK website.

Customs Regulations for USA Citizens

If you’re a US citizen, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces regulations on what you can bring back from a cruise. Duty-free allowances exist, allowing you to bring back a certain quantity of goods without incurring additional fees. However, these allowances can vary, so it’s essential to check the latest information on the CBP website or consult with cruise officials for up-to-date guidance.  

Bringing Back Liquor and Tobacco from the Caribbean: A Spirited Experience

JFK Airport in New York.

Local Liquors and Spirits
The Caribbean is renowned for its exotic and unique liquors and spirits.  Making it a prime destination for enthusiasts looking to bring home a special bottle. From the smooth and flavorful rums of Barbados to the vibrant and aromatic spices infused in Jamaican spirits, the Caribbean offers a treasure trove of options not typically found in your local liquor store.
Buying local liquor because it is not available back home or it’s cheaper.
Consider bringing back a bottle of Cuban rum, which has a distinct character due to the country’s rich history and craftsmanship. When I cruised to Cuba on Marella Cruises I couldn’t believe how cheap the Cuban Rum was.  Of course, I brought a bottle back and was shocked at how expensive it was in my local Supermarket.  Alternatively, explore the diverse array of spiced rums from various islands, each with its twist on this classic spirit that you can’t buy back home.
Buying Tobacco local specialities and saving Tax.
When it comes to tobacco, the Caribbean is famous for its cigars. Cuban cigars are particularly coveted, known for their exceptional quality and craftsmanship. Before indulging, be sure to check the customs regulations regarding the quantity of liquor and tobacco you can bring back, ensuring a smooth return journey with your newfound treasures.
WARNING – Some alcohol is prohibited for example Absinthe is prohibited to take back into the USA.  I have tried it in an Absinthe bar in France, it is lovely but I would rather enjoy the experience, not sure it is nice enough to drink at home.

Point Seraphine, St. Lucia Shopping Area.

Best Cruise Ship Souvenirs: A Shopper’s Paradise

Now that you’re aware of the customs regulations, let’s explore the best cruise ship souvenirs, ensuring you can bring back cherished memories without any customs-related hiccups.
Local Artisan Crafts: Sailing Away with Authenticity
When it comes to souvenirs, authenticity is key. Explore local markets and shops for unique artisan crafts that capture the essence of the destination. From handmade jewellery to traditional textiles, these treasures not only make for meaningful mementoes but also support local artisans.  
Culinary Delights: Tasting Memories from Shore to Ship
Bring a slice of your cruise destination home by indulging in local culinary delights. Whether it’s exotic spices, regional wines, or artisanal chocolates, edible souvenirs provide a delicious way to savour the memories of your journey.

Shopping in St. Lucia with cruise ship in the background.

Fashion Finds: Stylish Reminders of Your Seafaring Adventure
Cruise ship shopping often includes a variety of fashion options. From resort wear to unique accessories, immerse yourself in the local style and find pieces that not only enhance your wardrobe but also serve as stylish reminders of your seafaring adventure.
Cultural Keepsakes: Preserving Memories in Art and History
Dive into the rich cultural history of your cruise destination by seeking out museums, historical sites, and local art galleries. Collecting cultural keepsakes such as paintings, sculptures, or historical artefacts can turn your cabin into a small museum of your maritime travels.
WARNING – Check the Prohibited list for the USA for some items that are not allowed back into the US for example Haitian Animal hide drums.  Here is the link. 

Practical Tips for Souvenir Shopping on a Cruise

To ensure a seamless shopping experience, consider these practical tips:
Packaging Matters: Protecting Your Treasures at Sea and Beyond
Opt for sturdy packaging to protect delicate souvenirs during your cruise and the journey back home. This not only safeguards your purchases but also prevents any last-minute packing mishaps.


Check Customs Allowances: Navigating Duty-Free Limits
Before going on a shopping spree, familiarize yourself with duty-free allowances. Understanding the limits on alcohol, tobacco, and other goods will help you avoid customs issues upon your return.  That includes the Prohibited list for the USA and the prohibited list for the UK on page 15 of this leaflet.

Conclusion: Sail Away with Memories, Not Regrets

In conclusion, armed with the knowledge of customs regulations and armed with the best cruise ship souvenirs, you can sail away with not just items but a treasure trove of memories from your unforgettable cruise experience.  Download your maps with recommended shops and coupons on the back.  Click here.

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