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Cruise ships focus on fun

Family-oriented cruise ships have added water parks and miniature golf. For adults, there's hands-on cooking classes and shopping. Why even leave port?

January 24, 2010|By Jack McGuire

With myriad new ways for passengers to browse 'n' buy, budget-conscious cruisers expecting one all-inclusive vacation tab may need a slush fund to cover all the extras. Seductive upgrades and options such as Botox treatments, teeth whitening sessions, personal trainers, pay-as-you-go dining at specialty restaurants and an ever-expanding menu of high-cost shore excursions can tempt guests to indulge "just this once."

There's more retail ashore, especially in Caribbean ports of call, mainstays of many megaliners, where discounted and duty-free shopping is formidable competition for shore excursions and the islands' water sports and enticing beaches.

St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, for example, is a huge shopping plaza with most of the action centered along the harbor in Charlotte Amalie. Shopping on the Dutch side of St. Martin is concentrated along Front Street in Philipsburg, a virtual strip mall. Grand Cayman, the largest of the Cayman Islands, is also big on duty-free shopping. Among other popular Caribbean island shopping meccas, Aruba, Barbados and Antigua are notable.

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