I can honestly say that I am writing this from just a few decks above and about 50 meters forward of the shopping area on the Island Princess. Yes, there’s lots of shopping available on this and most other cruise ships. Depending on your tastes you can find clothes, duty free booze, and even new jewelry on your next cruise without leaving the ship.
One thing to note, the cruise lines are only able to have the ship shops open while at sea. The shops are closed while in port due to local port rules and regulations. This does not really hurt your chance to shop on the ship since in port you aren’t usually hanging out planning to go shopping on the ship anyhow. I’ve always found the shops to be open an adequate amount of time while at sea.
The boutique shops range from fine jewelry shops where you can get top designer watches or diamonds. They also tend to carry a range of items to suite a wide range of gift purchases so most folks on the cruise ship can find something in the shop to their liking. Also found onboard is a liquor shop selling a wide variety of the most commonly purchased alcoholic beverages at decent a price. Just keep in mind there are customs limits on how much you can bring back duty-free. You can bring more and pay duty, but it is best to get the most current limits and duty costs from US Customs before your trip.
Another standard shop is the logo shop for the particular cruise line. These you can find Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity, or whatever cruise line you are on then, t-shirts, polo shirts, model ships and more. It is a great place to get trinkets related to the cruise and ship specifically. It is always a good idea to watch for sales when they try to close out some of the merchandise as it may fetch you a good deal. T-shirts often go on sale one evening during the cruise, but you may find they are limited in both size and design on those days.
Usually you will find a boutique clothing shop aboard as well. This tends to have more expensive and nicer clothing, often with a flavor of the destinations you will visit. You can typically find some nice button down shirts along with nice dresses. You also find some fancy costume jewelry in this shop. If you decide you need to dress up more for formal night this is a good place to go stop and check out the deals they may have. This shop often is where you will find fine crystal figurines alone with other high end collectible souvenirs.
There is typically also a camera shop aboard that not only handles the on-board photography but also handles the sales of digital cameras. They often offer services handy to digital photographers such as transfer of your pictures to CDs or DVDs. They also can usually print selected photos as you wish which can be good if you like to have prints or need them to share with others. They are usually involved in the production of the cruise in review or similarly named DVD of the cruise. These folks are also a good source of help with your current digital photography. Of course they do like to help you upgrade your current equipment.
Overall the pricing in these shops for many of the items is at a slight premium above what you can get on land especially when you find things on sale. The prices are definitely not hugely out of line though. If you need something while on the ship they are there so that is a plus, but if you are looking for inexpensive souvenirs from your destinations, I’d recommend buying while ashore.
Call us to discuss the best shopping options in the Caribbean and on the ship. We have been there and know them well.