Cruising 101 {At Port}

By | January 13, 2015

 Cruising 101 {At Port}

When stopping in port, many people just get off the ship to shop. If you’re interested in shopping, I would recommend going to the “Talk” that will be given the day before that port of call. The “Shopping Expert” will know what to watch out for and deals to look for.


Foreign medications may be tempting. You will more than likely see advertisements while at port, but beware. If it’s not approved by the FDA, you’ll have to surrender it to Customs and possibly when you return to the ship.

Anything Cuban-made is forbidden and you will not be able to bring it home.

Due to U.S. customs regulations, onboard shops are closed while the ship is in port.


I learned as a child when driving down into Matamorous, Mexico that they way overprice everything. So when going to Cozumel, I had on my shopping face. This is what I do to get the price down. If you show interest, like by asking a question about it and then checking the price or asking the price. Don’t look desperate and don’t let them know you’ve fallen in love! Walk off. I’ll bet you, they will try to continue the sell of that item and possibly offer less. Have a price in mind. Try to work them down as close to that price and see what you can get. I’ve gotten some real steals. As far as other places besides Mexico, I don’t think they are into negotiations as much, so if I find a good deal, I take it. Just don’t expect to make a deal.

What is Duty Free?
Duty Free items will not be charged any kind of sales tax. Many travelers enjoy purchasing luxury items and liquor while on a cruise because there is no tax. But there is a limit on how much you can purchase. Check with your cruise line for specifics.

Can I purchase alcohol off the ship and bring it on?
You’re allowed to buy alcohol while at port, but when you get back on the ship, you’ll have to check it in. This means you won’t be able to drink it while you’re on the ship. You will get it all back the last night of the cruise, so that you can pack it. Alcohol is one of the biggest sellers among cruisers, because it is so much cheaper than it is at home. So many cruisers stock up. Just check with your cruise line on the limits that U.S. Customs allows.

Cruise Tender

If on your itinerary you see that you will be tendering into port, all that means is that you will go ashore on smaller boats rather than being tied up to a dock. There are several reasons for this, which could by: Port is to not deep enough for the ship to come up to land to dock or there is not enough room at the port for all ships to dock. When tendering you drop anchor a mile or so out from the port and take a small boat in. This can be a royal pain, but it is a necessary evil. The places I’ve had to tender have been: Coca Cay (Royal Caribbean’s private island), Caymen Islands, and Playa del Carmen.

On occasion depending on where you are, you may find you need some pocket change to use the public restrooms.
Mexico Paying for Bathroom

So that sums up a few of the important things you should know about Ports of Call. If there is something you’re unsure about, feel free to go to the information desk onboard. They are usually very knowledgeable about the ports that you’ll be stopping at.

~~Need help with cruising jargon? Check out Cruising Terminology~~

*Still have questions? Click here to learn Everything You Need to Know About Cruising*

Pictures courtesy of awreunion & galfred

4 thoughts on “Cruising 101 {At Port}

  1. Sarah

    Thanks for sharing this! My friend just went on a cruise and told us what a great deal it was, if we were careful with our spending. (We live in South Carolina, so driving to Charleston to get to a ship isn’t far). I am going to have to save these tips, because we’re trying to plan a trip for next year, now!


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