Onboard boutiques offer a world of savings

Onboard boutique
Onboard boutique

Souvenirs are always one of the best parts of a trip, and cruise vacations are no exception. Whether you're searching for the perfect gift for a loved one back home or simply a keepsake to remember your journey, the onboard boutiques have you covered.

Why buy onboard when you could wait until you get to land? The reason is because all of the onboard shops are tax and duty-free. Many items are priced up to 30 percent lower than you'll find onshore in the U.S. These stores were named as the "Best Onboard Shopping Experience" in 2008 and 2009 by the readers of Porthole Magazine, so clearly many bargain-hunters went home happy with their deals.

You can purchase nearly anything in this wonderful collection of shops, including merchandise from high-end brands such as Fossil, Swarovski, Lladro, Calvin Klein and more. There are dedicated stores onboard for jewelry, fragrances and cosmetics, apparel, fine gifts and even sundries if you forgot your sunblock or any toilets.

If you really want to snag the best deals, wait for one of the store's promotions. During the Jewelry Jamboree, for example, you can take up to 30 percent off semi-precious stones. The Designer Jewelry promotion offers a 50 percent discount on selected gold pieces. There's even a watch sale that sees many of the top brands go on sale for less than $70. Be sure to stop by the boutique area every day to catch when these deals are going on - or check for them in your daily newsletter.

Worried about getting everything home? On select itineraries, your package of goods can actually be arranged to be shipped home. This isn't available on all cruises so be sure to check beforehand - otherwise, just bring an extra suitcase.