When Should You Shop on a Cruise? A Shopaholic’s Guide to Onboard and Port Shopping Adventures!
Are you ready to embark on the shopping spree of a lifetime while cruising the high seas? Cruise vacations are not just about savouring delicious cuisine and enjoying breathtaking views; they also offer fantastic opportunities for shopping! But when should you shop on a cruise? Fear not, dear shopaholic, because we’ve got your back.
Why are there so many Shops onboard a ship and right near the Cruise Ports?
That is because once the ship has set sail the shops will open. Shops onboard are Tax and duty-free, so think about when you walk through an airport you can find products such as Liquor, Tobacco, Souvenirs, Beauty, Cosmetics, Fragrances, Jewelry, Watches and Electronics.
You will never see the onboard shops open when the ship is docked in port and that is because it can only open when the ship is at sea. Sea days onboard a ship the shops are very busy, especially on the last day and night of the cruise. There is always a last scramble for guests to capitalize on those fabulous tax and duty-free savings. My advice is to shop early for your basics such as liquor, tobacco and beauty products.
Many popular cruise destinations have shops right there on the pier, for example, the Caribbean is a popular tax haven for liquor, tobacco, beauty products, watches and jewellery. You will get a larger selection ashore in some destinations such as St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Barbados.
But let’s break it down and see when you should stop and when you should wait for the deeper discounts.
1. Onboard Shopping Extravaganza
Your cruise ship is more than just a floating resort; it’s a shopping haven on the water. Cruise lines have transformed their vessels into floating malls with a wide variety of shops and boutiques. But when is the best time to indulge in some retail therapy on board?
A. First Day Frenzy
As soon as you step on board, you’ll likely be eager to explore and find the best deals. The first day of your cruise is a prime time to check out the onboard shops. Why? Because many cruise lines offer exclusive embarkation day sales and promotions. You might score discounts on jewellery, clothing, and other luxury items.
B. Theme Nights
Many cruises host theme nights or events that provide opportunities for shopping. From formal nights where you can buy elegant attire to themed parties that call for unique costumes, you’ll find onboard boutiques stocked with the perfect items for these occasions. Don’t wait until the last minute to shop for your pirate costume on a Pirate Night!
C. Sea Day Specials
On sea days, when you’re not exploring ports of call, the onboard shops often host special sales and events. Take advantage of these quieter shopping moments which are usually during meal times so hit the shops around lunchtime between 12 – 2 pm to browse and shop without the rush.
Sea day specials are a cruise ship’s way of keeping passengers entertained and engaged while at sea. These promotions are designed to create a shopping buzz on board and provide guests with incentives to visit the ship’s boutiques. Here are some popular types of promotions that guests look for on sea days:
Discounts and Sales: Passengers often look forward to discounts on a variety of items, including clothing, jewellery, accessories, and souvenirs. Promotions like “20% off all watches” or “Buy one, get one half off on T-shirts” are enticing for shoppers. Cruise lines might also offer “clearance sales” or “last chance” sales to move older merchandise.
Limited-Time Offers: Creating a sense of urgency can be a powerful motivator. Cruise shops often run limited-time offers during sea days. For example, “Flash Sale: 30% off until 2 PM” can prompt passengers to make quick shopping decisions.
Exclusive Sea Day Collections: Some cruise lines introduce special merchandise collections that are only available on sea days. These collections can include items like branded cruise wear, artwork, or collectables that appeal to guests looking for unique souvenirs.
Raffle Drawings and Contests: Cruise shops may organize raffle drawings or contests where passengers can win shopping vouchers or even free merchandise. These events add an element of excitement and competition to the shopping experience.
Free Gifts with Purchase: Offering a free gift with a minimum purchase amount is a strategy used to incentivize guests to spend more. For example, “Spend $100 and receive a complimentary tote bag” can encourage passengers to buy more items.
Jewelry Shows and Trunk Sales: Many cruise ships host jewellery shows and trunk sales on sea days, often featuring high-end jewellery and luxury watches. These events often come with special pricing and can attract passengers interested in fine jewellery.
Art Auctions: Art auctions are a staple on many cruise ships. Passengers can view and bid on artwork, often with the promise of exclusive pricing and deals during sea day auctions.
Loyalty Program Perks: Cruise lines may extend special shopping perks to members of their loyalty programs. These perks can include additional discounts, early access to sales, or exclusive shopping events.
Spa and Beauty Promotions: Some cruise lines tie shopping and spa experiences together. Passengers who book spa treatments or beauty services on sea days may receive shopping credits or discounts to use at the onboard boutiques.
Cocktail Receptions: Shopping-themed cocktail receptions are a fun way to bring passengers together and introduce them to the ship’s shopping offerings. These events often come with exclusive discounts and the chance to mingle with fellow passengers.