If you are going on a cruise, chances are you will be shopping while in port for some trinkets or souvenirs to bring home. While they may be for yourself or for friends and family, here are 7 tips to remember when shopping in cruise ports.
Barter for the best prices
When shopping in port, you’d be surprised on how many prices on items are negotiable. This is especially true with high priced items such as jewelry, watches, and cameras. I know many cruisers can be uncomfortable bartering, but it can really save you money.
If you see an item you like that costs $50, don’t be afraid to offer $35 or $40 for it.
Use cash or credit cards
It is always best to use cash or credit cards when shopping in port. You should avoid using debit cards as I have heard countless stories about passengers having fraudulent charges to their cards soon after using their card in port.
If this happens to you and you used a debit card, your hard earned money is tied up until you can get it cleared up with your bank. If you used a credit card, only a portion of your credit is tied up. Personally, I’d rather have part of my credit tied up than my last paycheck.
If you do use cash in port, try and use the smallest bills you have. Many times the change given to you will not be in US but local currency. I am still stuck with a few Bahamian dollars from my last stop in Nassau.
Don’t be afraid to shop at stores besides the ones “recommended” by the cruise line
It is no secret that the stores and shops promoted at the shopping seminars on board your ship pay the cruise lines commission for steering passengers to them. However, that does not mean that you should avoid the stores that are promoted or avoid the ones that aren’t.
You can often find better deals at other stores since they are not paying commission to the cruise lines and have less overhead.
Stay away from the $3 tshirts
As tempting as it may be, don’t waste your money on the 3 for $10 tshirt deals. The quality of these shirts is extremely poor and they usually shrink several sizes after just one wash. The last $5 tshirt I bought in Grand Turk shrank on the left side, but not the right. You will often only get to wear these tshirts once before you have to throw them away.
If you want to bring home some tshirts from ports that you visit, buy the higher quality ones that cost $10-20 each. You will get much more use out of them.
Have large items shipped to you
Instead of bringing larger items back on the ship and then have to carry them back off on disembarkation day, many stores will mail them directly to your home for you. Ask the store about their shipping policies before purchasing large items.
Don’t buy drugs
I thought this would be a no-brainer but I occasionally hear stories about cruise passengers who become victims of a crime and assault when they are attempting to buy drugs in cruise ports. Safety should be your #1 priority when in a foreign port and illegal activities should never be considered.
Stay in the tourist areas
Since safety is your #1 priority when in port, always shop in the tourist areas. Never wander off alone when you are exploring and shopping at a new port. I have had several close friends and family members give me accounts of times they wandered off and began to be followed by locals. Luckily, none of them were robbed but it scared them enough that they always stay in the touristy areas now.
Ports such as Roatan and Nassau have a lot of crime. However, most crime happens away from the cruise ports and tourist areas. Always use reputable companies for island tours.