If you’re new to cruising, you may be wondering what the facilities are like on board perhaps even what the shopping is like on board. Shopping opportunities vary from ship to ship – some offer intimate, chic boutique stores and small gift shops, while many modern ships have introduced extensive shopping opportunities where you really could shop ‘til you drop’. Here are just some of the things you can buy on board:
You simply can’t go on a cruise holiday without buying some souvenirs to take home, not just for you, but for your friends and family, too. Cruise lines all have their own branded merchandise and you’ll also find ship specific goods on each vessel, too, such as the classics, for example fridge magnets, key rings and stuffed bears. Some ships however, do offer extended shopping facilities. The newer ships that are being added to the Royal Caribbean International fleet, such as Quantum of the Seas, will also allow you to go home with surfing gear reminiscent of the FlowRider on board. Certain ships also boast luxury brands, such as Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, which has its very own on board Harrods.
Photo Credit – smcgee
Are you planning to pick up all your souvenirs in port? Think twice about that. While there is something very special about being able to say ‘I bought this in such-and-such a place’, your cruise ship may offer port-related gifts on board for just a fraction of the price you’d pay on land. On a Baltic cruise, for example, you might find better deals on matryoshka dolls and faberge eggs on your cruise ship than you would at a tourist-centric gift shop in St Petersburg, and they will often be much better quality, too.
Alcohol, Tobacco & Perfume
Once you’re in international waters you’ll be able to take advantage of duty free prices on alcohol, tobacco, and perfume and the savings can be huge! You can expect to save up to 25 percent on designer perfumes such as Ralph Lauren. Unfortunately, you do need to remember your limits. Legally, each traveller over 18 can only bring 1 litre of spirits (or 2 litres of wine), 200 cigarettes (or 250g tobacco) and up to £390 of other goods, including perfumes, into the UK tax-free.
If you’re an art lover, then you’ll be in your element. Auctions can be arranged by either a cruise line’s own art gallery, or by land-based galleries, and showcase both paintings and limited edition artwork that you won’t find anywhere else. The auctions are usually held in the traditional style, rather than silent auctions and you’ll find different pieces on board different ships. Even if you’re not really one for art, it’s still worth going to these auctions – it costs nothing but a small amount of your time, and there’s usually free champagne!
Forgotten to pack travel adapters? Experiencing a freak heat wave in the usually chilly Northern Europe (it does happen!) and are in desperate need of sunscreen? No problem! You’ll be able to buy all sorts of classic holiday essentials on board that will help make your trip more enjoyable. You can get everything from headphones and camera accessories to after sun and insect repellent here, so don’t panic if you’ve found you’ve left something at home. You’ll usually find these products within a section of your cruise ship’s gift store and they can save you from having to go to the on board medical centre with embarrassing sunburn!
There are some fantastic purchases to be made on board when it comes to jewellery.
Most cruise lines now offer a wide variety on board for purchasing something special, from designer watches to male and female fine jewellery collections. Certain cruise lines even offer exclusive brand names on board such as Bulgari and Michael Kors boutiques along with many other leading designers such as Tag Heur, Omega, Armani, Versace, John Hardy, Nautica and Dolce & Gabbana. Also take a look at the incredible ranges of tanzanite, diamonds, emeralds, Faberge® eggs and gemstones on board. Plus, these items are all available tax and duty free, therefore are extremely good value for money in comparison to UK high street prices.
See those photographers following you around the ship? Well, they’re not doing it just for fun! You can buy these photographs in the on board photo shop throughout your cruise. Any photo that’s been taken of you by an official photographer – candid, in port, formal night poses and so on – can be found here and is available for purchase. Photo packages are available on most cruise lines if you wish to purchase multiple photos. These packages can often be extremely good value for money and a great saving. Many cruise lines even offer digital viewing options now. It was once the case where you had to search for your photo in the galleries and would find it difficult to come back to photos from the beginning of your cruise. Now however, modern day ships boast digital galleries where you can simply input the date and location on board to instantly find your photos. It’s a great tool that also allows for photos to be purchased and reserved, as well as private portrait sessions to be arranged should you wish. These digital screens remain open even when the photography studio on board is closed.
Stepping foot on board doesn’t mean it’s too late to book your shore excursions – by visiting the shore excursion desk (usually located next to the purser’s desk on many cruise ships), you can make reservations for beach transfers, sightseeing trips, and walking tours in your favourite ports of call. While we do recommend booking excursions before your cruise to ensure availability, the shore excursions desk is excellent for spare-of-the-moment trips, or if you’d rather wait and book excursions after the on board port lectures so you know exactly what it is you want to do in each exciting destination.
It’s never too early to start thinking about your next cruise! If you’ve fallen in love with your ship and know you want to sail on her again next year, if you can’t wait to start planning your trip to the Caribbean, or if you want to see what’s heading out of Southampton next week, then get yourself to the future cruise desk on board. Even if you have no idea what you’re looking for in your next cruise holiday, many cruise lines offer ‘open bookings’ which mean you can pay a deposit now, and choose your exact itinerary at a later date. A great thing about booking your next cruise on board is that there are some excellent incentives to be had and Bolsover Cruise Club will still manage the booking for you on your return. How can you say no?