Opinion6 Things I Won’t Buy on a Cruise Ship

6 Things I Won’t Buy on a Cruise Ship

Have you found yourself wondering, “where did my extra cash go halfway through your cruise?” Suddenly, your onboard account is lower than you anticipated.

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A Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise ship in Cozumel port
Photo credit: Cruise Fever

You may have forgotten your toothbrush or toothpaste and can’t go without it for the week. A visit to the gift shop is inevitable. On the other hand, you might be faced with a “deal” that seems too good to be true. Do you really need that purse that’s “exclusive” and on “clearance”?

Let’s just face it. Cruise ships are full of shiny, sparkly things that tempt our wallets and our sanity. My husband will tell you just how much I love to spend money and how tempted I get each time we cruise. I have had to learn what I would prefer to spend my hard-earned money on while cruising.

Over the years, I have learned things (through trial and error) that are worth purchasing and things that are not. Keep reading to learn the things I won’t buy (and how to avoid temptation) on my next cruise.

1. Lanyards

After dropping your carry-on luggage off at your cabin, you might make your way to the Lido deck for lunch. On your way there, you will probably notice several displays of lanyards, particularly in the photo area.

Lanyards are usually “pushed” pretty heavy on embarkation day. It’s an item that many of us utilize throughout our trip and cruise lines know that. When you glance at the price tag, you’ll see that they are not always cheap – especially if you have a large family.

Pro Tip: Before you start your vacation, shop around for lanyards. Amazon has multiple options and oftentimes, you can buy an entire package of 4 (or more!) for the price of 1 on a cruise ship.

Have fun with it. Purchase brightly colored lanyards for the kids. Favorite television shows and movies are popular options for adults. My entire family wore Game of Thrones-inspired lanyards on a cruise and we had several people wanting to snag them! 

Related: 35 genius cruise items on Amazon for under $15

2. Photo Package

Photos can be a real hit-or-miss on cruise ships. I would never suggest purchasing a photo package before boarding your ship. What if you have your photo taken and dislike them all? You might be having so much fun with your family, you never even stop to have your photo taken by the cruise line. Waste of money, right?

If you decide to have your photos taken (and that is perfectly okay!), choose to purchase your photos after seeing the finished print. At that point, if the cruise ship offers it, utilize a photo package to obtain the best deal possible.

3. Art

I absolutely love art and I have enjoyed a complimentary glass of champagne at an art auction more than once. Gazing at the art galleries onboard is a wonderful pastime and it’s a great way to learn about a variety of masters in their field.

Each time I cruise, I inevitably see at least two paintings of Michael Godard (olives jumping into martini glass pools, anyone?)  that I momentarily believe I cannot live without. While he is one of my favorite artists, I’ll opt to purchase stateside.

Honestly, it’s just risky purchasing from an art auction at sea. Are you getting a good deal? Is it an authentic work of art? Oftentimes, the internet connection is not strong enough for you to complete the needed research before making a large purchase like this. History is plagued with upset customers who claim cruise ships increase the value in order to get a sale.

Pro Tip: Take snapshots of art that you love while on your trip. Come home and visit photo galleries or online retailers to find a piece you know you’ll love. Take your time and do not feel pressured to make a decision.

Related: 12 things you can still get for free on a cruise ship

4. Spa Treatments

Where do I even start?

Do I love getting a massage? Absolutely. Do I love having my hair and nails done? Yep!

Do I love paying an astronomical price to have these services done on a cruise ship? Nope!

To each their own, but I tend to avoid the overpriced spa treatments on cruise ships. I can support my local salons before and after I go on a trip and receive high quality service without being hassled to buy their “exclusive” products.

5. Jewelry

If my husband gets a wild hair to purchase a new diamond from the onboard shops, great! (I might be dreaming a bit) Lucky for him, I won’t be pushing him to purchase an expensive piece of jewelry from a cruise ship.

Just like any store or website, cruise lines are experts at making you believe that something is a “great deal” when it really isn’t. It can be easy for the casual shopper to be fooled by their appealing tactics. The words, “duty-free” do not necessarily mean you are getting a good deal.

While you are on a cruise ship, there are no other stores in their direct competition. The jewelry store on the ship has a monopoly on selling jewelry to cruisers while onboard. Cruisers can momentarily forget about this, have nothing else to compare the prices to, then get roped into something overpriced.

6. Toiletries and OTC Medications

How many times have you forgotten your contact solution or something to calm a headache? It seems impossible to go through your entire vacation without these essentials.

In times like these, it will be necessary to purchase your items from the onboard shops or off the ship at a port. Either way, these items tend to be very overpriced.

Pro Tip: Make a list and check it twice. Be sure you have packed everything you could possibly need while on your trip. Make sure it is packed in your luggage and double check it again before you leave! 

What have you purchased on a cruise ship that you won’t dare buy again? We would love to hear your experiences, good and bad.

Until next time, bon voyage!

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Kristi Sellers
Kristi Sellers
Kristi took her first cruise when she was 12 years old and is currently planning her 20th. When she isn’t cruising, she loves to visit the Smoky Mountains. Kristi lives in Alabama with her husband and fur baby, Chico.
Opinion6 Things I Won’t Buy on a Cruise Ship


  1. I remember taking a cruise on the Sun Princess and, I believe, her twin sister ship, I think “The Ruby.” Anyway, what is the passenger size of the Sun Princess?

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