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8 tips to help local businesses benefit from cruise ships

Written by Janine Duffy

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Cruise passengers are stuck in a well-appointed, luxurious cage for days at a time. Everything is costly or limited. When they come onshore, there are many items they can buy locally - some are basic necessities, some are luxury or gift items.  If your business sells these items and cruisers can find you, everyone benefits.

WIFI. The ship charges through the nose for wifi and the connection is usually very very poor.  Cruise passengers need – I mean need – access to their family, emails, blogs and social media. Internet cafes with computers near the port will be popular.  Advertise free wifi at your cafe/restaurant and you will get cruisers whether they're hungry or not.

FOOD: even though food on board is plentiful and included in their cost, don't underestimate cruisers' need for food variety.  Ships have huge buffets with a constantly-changing selection of food – but there's no thrill of finding that hole-in-the-wall bar, there's no local waiters to chat to, there's no local flavour.   It gets boring. 


If your food is locally-produced, house-made, unusual – write it on your windows. If you do great pizza, burgers, fish & chips put up a sandwich board out front. Print a leaflet and get one of your staff to hand them out near the pier just after the ship arrives and at lunchtime.

SOUVENIRS: cruise passengers have a responsibility to take home something for the grandkids, friends, family, neighbours – in fact everyone that has heard about the trip has to be compensated for missing out.

Souvenirs can be stuffed kangaroos, but they can also be hand-made cards, jewellery (both costume and expensive), homewares, books, clothing and toys. Almost any non-perishable locally-made item that can be packed in a suitcase is a souvenir if you market it correctly.

It doesn't have to be cheap either. Having a range of price-points is a great strategy.

ELECTRONICS: SD cards, flash drives, adaptors, clocks, disposable cameras, accessories for phones, tablets and kindles are all things that cruisers can forget to take on board, or need more of.  Keep in mind that items that are made for Australian power points may need an adaptor. 


CHEMISTS/GROCERY STORES/POST OFFICES: The ship has all these things but not in the variety or range that we are accustomed to. Cruisers who run out of toothpaste, hair treatment product, pharmaceuticals or favourite snacks are forced to buy from the limited ships stores at inflated prices, or go without until the next port.  Some foods might be restricted too.

Passengers are very limited in what alcohol they can bring on board the ship.  Sometimes they can bring a bottle of wine or two.  Liquor stores can still benefit - especially if they can ship to the passengers home country.


A BIT ABOUT MONEY: Many cruisers are from the USA and they are great shoppers and great tippers.  They might ask you if you take American dollars.  If you can, great - they will be thrilled and they won't require an up-to-the-minute exchange rate.  Just have a rough idea of the rate to make sure you are covered.  If you can't take USD they will understand, especially if they can pay by card. 

Don't be surprised if they leave you a tip.  Its a lovely gesture that Americans and Canadians are in the habit of doing.  

To learn more about cruisers and cruising you can register free at – its an online community that anyone can join.  Don't blatantly advertise your business on there (unless you are paying for an ad, which you can do as well),  but you are free to answer questions that come up in the forums.  You can even ask a question and get great answers from experienced cruisers.  On the home page scroll down to Useful Links – First Time Cruisers for some interesting insider tips.

on 11 February 2016
Created: 12 February 2016
Last Updated: 12 February 2016