This question was answered on our Cruise IQ show on November 22, 2017.
The “deals” onboard cruise ships are very tempting and many times you feel pressured to buy something to remember our cruise. If you are the sentimental type or a collector, definitely buy smaller ship-specific mementos like holiday ornaments, ship models or a hat. Stay away from purchasing any technology like cameras, tablets and other gadgets. The savings you will see are minimal at best and sometimes you’d be able to get a better price shopping online at home. Also, if the item breaks and you need repairs, you may find getting warranty service whether through the cruise line or manufacturer is not such as easy process. Do not purchase high end items like designer hand bags or shoes from local port vendors. Again, the savings are just not usually there and you really have no recourse once you get home, should you find the item is not the genuine thing. Purchasing one or two of the photos taken onboard by the ships photographers is a nice way to remember your time on your cruise and the quality and special effects they can apply make them more unique than your own pictures. Don’t get roped into buying a photo package, especially in advance. Cruises are supposed to be about leisure and in order for you to get the most out of your photo package would require you to spend a good amount of time coordinating the shots you want. In the end, you may end up selecting pictures you don’t really want. Another package you may want to stay away from is the multi-night specialty dining package. Unless your cruise line is offering a substantial deal like two for one, or the food is absolutely inedible in the main dining room, after a couple of nights on the package you may not feel up to another large, calorie-rich, meal that the specialty restaurants are known for.