Cruising is more than just relaxing by the pool and visiting new destinations. Today’s ships offer world-class shopping, and retail therapy is a big part of the overall holiday experience.

Step aboard one of today’s cruise ships and you’ll soon realise that shopping at sea is one of life’s little pleasures. Or perhaps not so little, because alongside first-class dining and entertainment, you’ll have your pick of the world’s premier designer labels.

“We want to offer more than just a shopping plaza with souvenirs and essentials,” comments Adrian Pittaway, MSC Cruises’ Head of Retail. ‘We are taking shopping at sea to the next level.”

While port shopping is still very popular, it can be incredibly busy during peak tourist periods so for those who fancy skipping the hoards and the queues, cruise shopping now allows them this opportunity.

Newly launched MSC Bellissima offers some glimpses of that approach, with no fewer than 13 shops and 200 major brands on board, while Celebrity Cruises’ rival megaship, Celebrity Edge, boasts exclusive boutiques by Bulgari, Tiffany and Cartier.

Fine jewellery and watches are among the most popular onboard buys because so many cruise guests are celebrating a special occasion. So whichever line you choose, expect to find high-end jewellery brands such as Chopard and Damiani, and watches by the likes of Omega, Longines and Tag Heuer.

Technology – especially in the form of wearables like Fitbits and smart watches – is also making waves, so you’ll also see the latest from Apple, Bang & Olufsen, Bose and Samsung. One of the latest trends in cruise shopping is the rise in art galleries and auctions, which have been carefully curated to target passengers varying demographics and tastes.

For a more traditional cruise shopping experience, you will also find plenty of luxury goods, from handbags to haute couture clothing, as well as a wealth of beauty products. If you’ve forgotten your mascara at home or want to bring back a new perfume, this is the place to buy it.

And don’t be daunted by all those price tags. The mix is broadening as cruise lines try to ensure that every passenger is catered for, no matter what their budget, so you can splash out on a diamond necklace but just as easily pick up an inexpensive bottle of artisan gin. Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises and the majority of larger cruise lines will offer duty-free shopping and tax, plus special sale savings and price match guarantee.

And if you’re looking for duty-free savings, keep your mobile ready for a spot of online price comparison. After all, the great thing about a cruise is that you have plenty of time for research before you open your wallet. Scroll though our gallery for some of the best new buys on board.

1/5Cunard mulberry handbag

Mulberry Bayswater Bag

Cunard Mulberry handbag, c.£762, mulberry.com
1 of 5
2/5Cunard Dalmore Valour single malt bottle

The Dalmore Single Malt

Cunard QM2 Dalmore Valour, c.£65
2 of 5
3/5Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium perfume

Yves Saint Lauren Black Opium

£54, MSC Bellissima
3 of 5
4/5Citizen His and Hers yellow gold and silver metal watch

Citizen His & Hers Watch

c.£270, Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas, citizenwatch.com
4 of 5
5/5Celebrity Edge Kallati Captains collection

Kallati Edge Earrings

Celebrity Edge Kallati Captains collection, c.£3,600
5 of 5
Cunard mulberry handbag
Cunard Dalmore Valour single malt bottle
Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium perfume
Citizen His and Hers yellow gold and silver metal watch
Celebrity Edge Kallati Captains collection