Save $$ at Cruise Pier Duty Free Shop
We always get asked "What do they have at the Duty Free stores?", "Are the any prices good?" and “Can I take it with me on the ship?".
If you’re embarking on your cruise from San Juan (at both the Pan American pier and Pier 4 in Old San Juan), you’ll be able to purchase duty free liquor and cigarettes at the pier before you board/reboard the ship.
Of course, the employees at the duty free store will tell you that you can carry anything you want onto the ship — they want you to buy at lot. Each cruise line has a different policy on what (if any) liquor you can carry onto the ship, so you’ll have look into the ship’s exact policies and then take your chances with that. The worst case is that they find your "stash" and they take it and hold it for you until your last day on the ship (so you can pack it for your trip home).
When we have cruised out of San Juan, we were able to put our tax free purchases in our carry-ons and it all went through the next two check points without anyone confiscating it. That was on Princess and Carnival … other ships may be more vigilant. By the end of that cruise, we had so many bottles of liquor in our stateroom that we were begging for the ship to hold some of it for us! For people making a day port stop, there is a smaller liquor store that you can get some tax free stuff.
Friends of ours recently went on a cruise out of San Juan, and they brought back the flyer for the Duty Free store at the Pan American pier. We’ve scanned it and you can see it below. These were the prices as of December 2011. Those prices may change, but it will give you an idea of what’s available. They have a website that may have more recent prices. I also know they have other wines, soda, a few mixers, and water available for sale at these shops, (I don’t think they have beer), if you want to take that on your cruise. These stores are accessible during your embarkation, but not during your debarkation. I don’t know for sure if the small liquor store on the day in port offers the same prices..though it would be nice!
There’s a different company that operates the duty free/tax free stores in the SJU airport. We don’t have a copy of their ad, but you can see the specials on their website. They offer duty free liquor, perfume and cigarettes after the security check points, and you can bring these items on as carry-ons without the TSA 3-1-1 rule in effect. But this only applies if you don’t change planes, or leave the USA. As these are carry-ons, any time you have to go through another security checkpoint, these bottles will be subject to the TSA 3-1-1 rule and will confiscated.
Just as a new addition — A recent cruiser (August 2009) mentioned that during a day stop in port, they were able to take an elevator upstairs at Pier 4 and were able to shop in the large tax Free store (the one with all the great prices and stuff!). Try it!
We are not affiliated with, nor do we represent, the duty free shops at the piers or airport in San Juan. The prices and items in these ads are subject to change.