I guess you could say I’m a shopaholic in the truest sense of the word. That is, I only go shopping for alcohol.
But many of you, I know, tend to have wider-ranging buying habits. For you a cruise offers a myriad of shopping opportunities. So how do you deal with the temptations that abound, both on ship and ashore?
If you’re a first-time cruiser you may need to steel yourself for the retail ambush that awaits you. Far be it from me to dictate what you do on your holiday, but my advice would be to follow my five-point strategy and you won’t go too wrong.
1. Find a minder
Maybe it’s obvious, but when it comes to shopping, two heads are better than one. If you bring your partner or friend with you they can serve the twin roles of sounding board and devil’s advocate.
Viewing your purchasing decisions through their eyes can be enormously useful. The right companion will ensure you don’t come a cropper as a cruise ship shopper.
At the same time, when you do find that once-in-a-lifetime bargain, they’ll be there to validate your decision.
2. Sleep on it before you leap on it
This is chiefly for on board purchases. No need to make a hasty decision. Why not leave it 24 hours and see how you feel then?
Assuming you’re not on the final day of your holiday, the item could still be there tomorrow. And as long as your ship remains in international waters you can reap the benefits of duty free shopping.
Sleeping on it can unlock your true inner feelings. If you dream about the item and awake frothing at the mouth and in a cold sweat, your subconscious is trying to tell you something.
3. Is it too maxi for a taxi?
That life size model of an elephant would look fabulous in your lounge, but ask yourself how you’re going to get it into your cabin, let alone transport it by plane, train or taxi.
You should also consider the embarrassment factor.
Before parting with any cash try to imagine all the cheap jibes coming your way as you lug the artefact back through the assault course that is your journey home.
4. It pays to shop around
This is one of the oldest principles of them all and it’s still valid whether you’re on dry land or at sea.
On our Baltic capitals cruise a couple of years ago my wife and I were surprised that many of the souvenirs we saw in a Finnish tourist shop had been more expensive in St Petersburg. By buying her Russian doll in Helsinki she enjoyed a hefty discount.
Of course, this was pure luck. There’s no guarantee you’ll have the same experience as us, and things only work in your favour if you see the more expensive item first.
5. Apply the Antiques Roadshow test
And finally, if all else fails, you can always apply what I call the Antiques Roadshow test. It works every time.
When you see something you want to buy but doubt whether you can afford it, all you do is say the words ‘Antiques Roadshow’ 1,000 times out loud.
It won’t tell you whether the item is a good long term investment, but it really winds up the shop assistant.
They’ll almost certainly have you thrown off the premises which will neatly solve your dilemma. On the other hand, if they don’t eject you, it’s a sign they’re desperate for the sale, and you should steer well clear.
Pavarotti at sea
Whether you plan to buy a pearl necklace on the Jewel of the Seas or a CD of Nessun Dorma on MSC Opera, I guarantee there’s nothing quite like shopping on a cruise ship. So enjoy the experience.
Now, like any true shopaholic, I’m off to get my usual early morning post-retail-therapy therapy.
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