This goes without saying but expect “tourist trap” prices at the numerous shops & stalls, especially right in or near the port where you dock.
Tips & Tricks:
Caveat emptor! Be careful what you buy, as there are no returns or guarantees for the most part. You can always haggle prices as well, but you may find certain ports will have a sort of local price-fixing in place where the vendors won’t budge on their prices. Also, make sure you know the legal ramifications prior to shopping. For example, in the Caribbean, the store owners may tell you that you are allowed to bring back a certain number of cuban cigars into the USA – not true – cuban cigars are illegal!! You will have to fill out a customs declarations form and go through customs when you return to the US.
If you can get away to where the locals shop & dine, you can usually get better prices. Safety should be your first priority though, so make sure you know who you are going with (see no. 5 – Shore Trips section).
Another great tip – many times the cruiselines may have clearance-type sales on the last evening of the cruise. So you may want to wait till then to buy something you’ve got your eye on. Best thing is to ask at guest services and they can tell you what sales are planned in advance.
One final shopping tip – don’t always assume that the shore prices at ports of call will be less expensive than on the ship. Sometimes the duty-free prices on the ship may be cheaper than the shops at the ports of call.