Is a good is a great time for a cruise and a cruise is a superb time to sample new perfumes. That could seem like a leap to non-cruisers, but those who board cruise lines know that the majority ships have onboard boutiques with luxury and specialty items. It is not unusual for a cruise ship store to stock dozens of great perfumes. And what better time to sample new scents than on a cruise vacation? But there are other reasons to purchase perfume on a cruise ship.
The cruise lines must think so, too, because most cruise ships feature perfume pretty prominently of their onboard shops. One perk I find in cruising is that you would be able to sample loads of different perfumes in these shops to essentially get the texture (and wear) of fragrances you won’t normally try.
Cruise lines feature duty-free shopping but the astute woman of fragrance nosing around the cruise shop perfume counter may notice that prices on the perfumes onboard ship should not much different than prices back home on the local department store or online shop. So what’s the large deal about duty-free anyway?
Perfume is a type of things, like diamond rings and the room rate at a Tahitian resort, that just doesn’t go on sale. Most experienced women of fragrance can inform you that perfume prices are stable because the Rock of Gibraltar. The perfect deal you’ll get from most perfume companies is a few sort of packaged set at the holidays or for Mother’s Day.
Don’t be disappointed if the boittle of perfume you priced at $60 at the local department store or the $100 gift set that you’ve seen online at the Sephora website (great place to buy fragrance) will not be marked down just because you’re onboard a ship. (You could also be pleasantly surprised, but you shouldn’t expect to see anything like a major discount.)
The benefit duty-free shopping is that you do not pay tax (city, state, or federal) in your purchase. As an illustration, buy that $60 bottle of perfume at your hometown department store, and you can expect to pay about another $5 in sales tax. (That is based on an approximate sales tax rate within the U.S. of 8%. If you reside in Canada, it’s closer to 12% and in Europe, it’s higher than that!)
Most Europeans instantly “get” the concept of duty-free shopping because it is customary in Europe to add the tax to the acquisition price that appears on the label. Thus, seeing the price without the tax added in shows the discount quite plainly.
Within the U.S., sales tax is a lot more sneaky. It does not appear until you are standing at the checkout when it is just tacked on to the purchase price.
Buying duty-free eliminates the tax. In fact, in the U.S. you could possibly also go online and buy perfume from an out-of-state vendor and in that way avoid paying sales tax. However, you’ll get dinged with shipping and handling charges.
When you purchase something duty free, you are paying only what the merchandise cost. Even when you aren’t getting a penny off the retail price of your next bottle of Chanel or Michael Kors or DKNY Be Delicious, you will still leave the shop paying less than you’ll have using more traditional outlets.
Another great reason to purchase perfume on a cruise ship is you could really try it before you purchase it. You’ll be able to pop into the cruise shop, get a spritz on the scent you’re considering, and then wear it for the day. Women of fragrance can let you know that sniffing at a perfume in the bottle or spritzing it on a paper strip are useful, but there is no truer test to whether or not you may love a new scent than actually wearing it for a couple of hours.
I had that experience with Cinema by Yves St. Laurent. I liked the scent well enough after i used the paper tester strip but there were many other perfumes that seemed more intriguing and interesting. Yet when i did a “test” of wearing Cinema for an afternoon, I found that I loved the scent.
The range of perfumes your cruise ship will carry will depend on the cruise line. Most cruise ships manage to stock a fairly decent range of products. Search for some big names (Givenchy, Chanel, Lancome, and so forth) and some newer names (DKNY, Michael Kors, Vera Wang).
You will not find everything. As an illustration, on my last cruise, I discovered the shop had Chanel No. 5, Chance, and Allure from Chanel, but no No. 19. There were many Estee Lauder cosmetics in stock, but no fragrances. Dolce & Gabbana’s Blue was available, but no other scents. You may find some delightful and relatively rare scents (I saw Delices by Cartier and Incanto Charms by Ferragamo) but you can’t expect the cruise line to be a totally stocked perfume shop.
When purchasing perfume onboard, the duty-free purchase counts toward the allowance of merchandise you might be allowed to bring back into the country. American citizens are allowed to return from their international cruises with $800 in purchases (per person). Should you exceed that sum, you have to declare it to customs and it is feasible that you simply may be asked to pay duty upon your return to the U.S.
What about buying perfume at your ports of call? That depends upon whether or not the port charges sales tax and if there are good perfume stores available.
A big surprise for cruising perfume lovers is Cozumel, Mexico. Not only does this sunny Mexican Riveria destination not charge sales tax, there’s an excellent (and really large) perfume boutique in the shopping district immediately near the port. (Just get off the cruise ship and head to the left to the stores …. it’s just a few blocks down.)
European ports charge hefty taxes but may offer perfumes that aren’t really easy to seek out in the U.S.
But when perfume lovers go cruising, they can purchase their old and new favorite scents onboard their cruise ship with confidence.