There’s a lot to enjoy during a cruise vacation: the dazzling array of delicious food, the opportunity to relax and lounge under the sun, the exotic destinations on the itinerary, and the chance to do some souvenir shopping in every port.
While you can buy t-shirts, refrigerator magnets, and baseball caps anywhere, one of the best parts about buying souvenirs while on a cruise is that in each port destination you’ll be able to find unique items and gifts that will remind you of all the beautiful places you visited.
Follow these souvenir buying tips to find the best souvenirs during your time in port, plus some advice on customs and duty-free shopping.
Start your research early
Before boarding your cruise, do a little research on each of the countries and ports of call on your cruise itinerary. Learn about their signature products and find out if there are any local foods or items that could be great gifts for loved ones back at home.
For example, in Barbados, you’ll want to be on the lookout for colorful pottery pieces. While in Mexico, don’t forget to bring back a bottle of local tequila.
Many cities and small towns have a number of festivals and arts fairs that take place throughout the year. Find out ahead of time if your visit coincides with any local events to find unique souvenirs during your vacation.
Another easy way to learn more about a country’s culture is by visiting the websites of their tourism board and chamber of commerce, which often have useful information about special local goods and shopping guides.
Make sure you know what you’re allowed to bring back home
Once you know what you want to buy, it’s a good idea to find out ahead of time what kind of items you’re allowed to bring back home and on the cruise ship.
Our website’s FAQ page is a good source of information for what’s permitted on board.
For more information on what kind of items are allowed and not allowed into the United States, visit the US Customs & Border Patrol website.
Ask for advice
Once you’re on board, Celebrity’s friendly crew members are happy to share tips on where they shop and if they have any favorite stores or shopping districts in each port.
Likewise, speak to locals you’ll meet in different port destinations (for example, restaurant servers, taxi drivers, or shore excursion providers), who might have the inside scoop on smaller shops loved by locals.
During your cruise, you’ll also be offered a tutorial on port shopping, along with a map of stores.
If you’re booked on one of Celebrity’s Alaska cruises or Caribbean cruises, you’re in luck. Buying Alaska souvenirs in port is especially easy, as local shopping districts feature multiple stores on the same block.
Scout out duty-free stores
You’ll find duty-free stores in several of our Caribbean and Bermuda cruise ports. Items in these stores have prices that don’t include the local value-added tax (similar to a sales tax), which can sometimes be up to 33% of an item’s price.
In many countries, taxes are already included on the price tag. Since alcohol, jewelry, and other luxury items usually come with a high tax, you can expect to find a good deal when you buy them at a duty-free store. But note: children’s goods are not duty-free, even in a duty-free shop.
Remember to declare your purchases
Once you return to the United States, you still have to declare all of the items purchased during your cruise vacation. If you exceed the price limit (for more information, visit the US Borders and Customs page), you will have to pay taxes on those items which exceed the limit.
Keep in mind, there also are limits on the amount of alcohol and tobacco products you can bring into the country.
Consider food souvenirs
When buying souvenirs, don’t overlook grocery stores, gourmet shops, and farmer’s markets. They are all a good way to learn about the regional culture and food and find a special memento to take home.
Port shopping for signature foods and gourmet items is particularly rewarding in large, international cities. If you’re going on a European cruise that docks in a major city, most well-stocked grocery stores will have goodies from all over the region.
These will make all the difference when cooking meals in your kitchen at home and will shine as gifts for friends and family, too.
Start a collection
If you travel frequently, consider collecting a certain type of souvenir that you can find in different variations in each port you visit. Items like playing cards, ornaments, wind chimes, and straw hats are often available in souvenir shops around the world.
Bring the right currency
In some Caribbean, Asian, and Middle Eastern cruise ports, as well as in Mexico, merchants will accept U.S. dollars, but any change will be returned in the local currency.
If you’re cruising around Europe, shop operators in port cities generally won’t accept dollars, so you will need to find a convenient and cost-effective way of exchanging currency before heading out.
Some higher-end shops, such as museum stores, art galleries, and fashion boutiques accept credit cards. However, some credit card companies add on a fee for international transactions, so make sure to figure that into any calculations and price comparisons.
Explore the unforgettable cruise destinations we sail to, then book your next luxury cruise vacation online or by calling one of our vacation specialists.