If you have an eye for the sparkle, the ship’s gift shops do have some very pretty, though pricey items. However, the more basic gift shop usually does have some cute t-shirts and little doo-dads that are pretty reasonably priced. Plus at the end of the cruise, some of the stuff goes on a big discount, especially if it is late in the season.
I’m not saying don’t buy (like I would EVER say that!), I’m just saying do your homework and figure out what might be a good deal on a nice souvenir.
By the end of the cruise, you are going to feel like Kim Kardashian with all the photographers chasing you around. Again, there is lots of money involved, so they are going to be fairly persistent. However, a polite, but firm no thank you will usually do the trick.
If you DO decide you want some photos, go for it. I actually LOVE photos, so it’s something I don’t mind spending a bit on, and they actually aren’t much more than a regular photographer. Be smart and ask the staff which photographer is the best one. We found a good photographer and took some nice formal shots on our anniversary trip. We got them for like $15 a sheet – that’s actually a pretty good deal for nice portraits.
CHAMPAGNE ART AUCTIONS/JEWELRY SHOWCASES, ETC.
There is at least one of these going on every single day of a cruise. I’m thinking this is yet another way to wheedle a few extra bucks out of your pocket. No matter what they tell you, I can pretty much guarantee there are NO deals to be found at these things. Shuffleboard – now shuffleboard is a good deal! Shipboard auctions – NEVER a good deal.
Some people get a little bent about the tips. They are automatically added to your account – typically $12-$15 per person per day even for children. It IS a big bite, but your waiters and room stewards work very long hours for their tips – 12-14 hour days is the norm. You can ask to have them reduced, but I usually let them go through.
Now for the good part – the excursions. These are the one thing I DO suggest spending your hard earned money on. Ziplining, scuba, parasailing, horsebackriding, or even visiting historic sites. These are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and they are definitely worth purchasing. I have gotten to do some fabulous stuff on my cruises like the helmet dive shown above in Cozumel. We sailed on an actual pirate ship in Mexico – it was a wonderful day.
Sidenote: Helmet dives are WONDERFUL options for people like me who don’t swim well. You have a guide, you are tethered to an air hose, you only go down about 15-20 feet, and you have a set path to travel. Very safe, although you can’t do it if you have ear problems, high blood pressure, are pregnant, etc.
Yes, you can save few bucks if you book them directly with companies or individuals onshore, but your safety is very important to the cruiseline. The people who do regular business with them will make every effort to keep you safe and be sure you get back to the ship safely and ON TIME. Most of the people I’ve dealt with in ports are just regular folks looking to make a few bucks, but there definitely are some bad people out there. So I tend to spend a bit more for the safety factor.