Cruise ships set the stage for those who love to shop, with a wide variety of products, "duty-free" signage (indicating you don't have to pay the local tax) and promotions touting prices that might seem too good to be true. The truth is: While you can snag pretty good deals on a lot of onboard buys, not everything is a bargain. Some goods are actually so ridiculously priced, you're bound to spend almost double what you would back home. Here are four generally overpriced items you shouldn't buy on a cruise ship.
1. Mainstream Alcohol
Unless you're shopping for a rare vintage or brand that's not available where you live, it might not be worth spending your money on booze, especially if the onboard currency is US dollars. Even if it's a few bucks cheaper, you still have to lug it back home in your suitcase. Bear in mind: Cruise ships have strict policies on alcohol. Any bottles purchased onboard will be held in storage until the last day of your cruise, so don’t think you'll save on your onboard bar bill by buying a bottle at the store onboard.
2. Personal Care Products
Forget toothpaste, sunscreen or feminine care products? Wait to buy them in port, if you can. The prices of personal care products on cruise ships are astronomical; you'll pay nearly twice as much as you would at home. If you're travelling with only a carry-on and intentionally didn't pack certain items due to airline's liquid limitations, simply scoop them up at a grocery store or pharmacy in your embarkation port before you board your ship.
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Similar to personal care products, medications are also extremely expensive onboard. Unfortunately, in most cases, you can't wait until you get to port to buy them. Our advice? Always pack basics like pain relievers and motion sickness medication, in addition to any usual vitamins, supplements and medications. Even if you don't typically get sea sick, it's good to have some pills on hand -- especially for shore excursions that involve catamarans and other small boats.
Note: If you require antibiotics or other common medication not sold in the ship's store, be aware onboard doctors will charge you a visitation fee in addition to the cost of any medical purchases or treatments, and insurance is not accepted.
Whether you're itching for a new camera or forgot some equipment back home, we advise you to refrain from purchasing any electronics onboard (unless it's something small, like a memory card). Any money you save won't be worth the hassle of trying to deal with product returns/exchanges, warranties or any post-purchase maintenance -- and we've heard some horror stories from Cruise Critic members. You're better off buying the camera online, or you might have better luck shopping for electronics in port.