Shopping and Duty Free Guide



Duty free items usually mean goods that are sold to you in a foreign country, which have entered that country without local import taxes attached. This, however, can only be done from airport or ‘in-bond’ stores where the goods are then put into warehouses and not sold to the local population.

Duty free goods on cruise ships are legal because they are not sold to the people who live within the destination being visited. Also many cruise ships will close their shops whilst the ship is in port to abide by the local custom laws.

It’s important to note that many land-based shops often use the term ‘duty free’ to describe products that are discounted, as well as actual duty free items.

Tax free is a little different. In the Caribbean you do not pay VAT as you do in Europe, and you also don’t pay sales tax as in the USA. Therefore, if prices on certain items in the Caribbean have 30% off the prices you would usually pay, you are really getting 38% off because of the additional sales tax savings.


Due to the heavily discounted prices, these items have become some of the most popular items for purchase in onboard duty free shops.


There’s a wide variety of alcohol available onboard cruise ships. You can find amazing duty free deals on anything from premium vodkas such as Grey Goose to creamy liquors like Amarula. If you do purchase duty free alcohol onboard please note that you will not be able to take the alcohol back to your cabin, it will be stored in the hold until your day of departure when it will be brought to your cabin for you to pack with the rest of your luggage. Also keep in mind that if you are flying home, you must pack your bottles away in your checked luggage, not your hand luggage.


The price of cigarettes varies depending where you travel to. However, as a guideline, cruise ship duty free shops will sell 10 pack bundles from as little as £14.


For those who can’t resist a bit of sparkle, you’ll be glad to know that cruises are often stocked with a decadent display of fine jewellery and costume jewellery plus designer watches, handbags and sunglasses too. If you are looking for something in particular, it’s worth researching prices before you travel so you’ll have a better idea of whether you’re getting a great deal onboard.

Apple products

This is something that is exclusive to Celebrity Cruises and as the first authorised Apple Reseller at Sea, on most of the ships you can find iPads, iPods, MacBook Pros and more. Bear in mind that quantities are going to be limited, so if you have your heart set on something, make sure you get it earlier on in your cruise to avoid disappointment. It’s also worth noting that whilst the prices may be slightly cheaper, the chargers for these devices are likely to have an American plug – so you’d need an adapter to charge them from your mains socket at home.


Perfume is one of the most popular products to buy when it comes to duty free purchases. With amazing offers to be found across a whole host of top designer brands from Armani to Calvin Klein, you can stock up on your signature scent for less.

Makeup and Skincare

Makeup and skincare has become a popular choice for duty free shoppers. With fantastic discounts across a wide choice of popular brands such as Clinique, Lancôme and Estée Lauder it’s easy to see why. If your makeup collection needs a little revival or you need to invest in a new skincare regime, make the most of the great savings available in the duty free shop on your cruise ship.


One of the main things to keep an eye on when it comes to a cruise is the ship’s newsletter which is delivered to your stateroom daily. This will offer lots of information regarding the best port shops to go to depending on what you’re seeking such as jewellery or perfume. It will also advise you about sales that are happening that day in the onboard shops.

If you are buying souvenirs such as magnets and postcards or inexpensive gifts, you can find them in many shops around port and the price will rarely differ much. However, for more expensive items, it’s worth looking into this in a bit more detail. There could be a specific shop in port that may have exactly what you need and offer the best price, so definitely plan ahead.

It’s a good idea to talk to crew members about where the good places to shop are because they’re likely to have already explored them. The ship employees will also be able to advise which port may have the best prices depending on what you’re looking for. Prices can vary from port to port and by asking their advice you could avoid missing out on the best bargains!


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