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Old 14-04-2020, 14:44   #1
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Receiving packages while cruising

I am having a bit of difficulty figuring out how to receive packages while traveling. I am not talking about a mail service like SBI or similar but how to have something from say Amazon or a part from a marine store sent to wherever I may happen to be once I leave waters serviced by Amazon lockers or the USPS. All the threads I could find while searching deal more with physical address or mail, not so much on parcels.



The Bahamas will likely be the first foreign port we visit, assuming of course this whole virus thing is largely cleared up by next winter. I also plan to spend little to no time in marinas while traveling so using a marina as a location to send something to isn't going to work for me most of the time. How are others out there dealing with this in foreign ports?
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Old 14-04-2020, 14:54   #2
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Re: Receiving packages while cruising

People around us have used Makers Air (was Watermakers) to bring small items from the US to the Bahamas.

We have used them to fly guests to join us and to return home.

We have used them to fly relief supplies we paid for to Long Island and to Marsh Harbour.

https://makersair.com/freight-forwar...o-the-bahamas/
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Old 14-04-2020, 15:01   #3
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Re: Receiving packages while cruising

Spirited,

It depends on where you are. In MOST places, it can make sense to have a service like SBI collect your packages and send them on to you. They have a lot of experience with the best way to get packages into various ports around the world.

In Puerto Rico we had good luck with sending packages to ourselves using the USPS General Delivery service. It still exists!

In some places, you will need to use a local customs broker to handle the paperwork. In the Bahamas, each island has an air delivery service that runs from Miami or Ft Laud and is arranged though a local broker.

In short, there is no simple answer that works everywhere.

For example, we needed parts delivered to us in Georgetown, Bahamas. We were put in touch with the local air service, and had the parts delivered to their office in Miami, and they moved them out to the island and cleared customs with a local broker where we picked up the parts.

How do you know what to do? Ask the locals. They do it all the time.

And when traveling outside the USA, try really hard to wean yourself from Amazon. Stock up on routine spares, and work with the locals. They survive there. So can you.
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Old 14-04-2020, 15:04   #4
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Re: Receiving packages while cruising

Try four star cargo in Miami.

You would have your stuff shipped to them and then they forward it.

I don’t think they will consolidate packages but they might, Ive never asked.

We use SBI, ship everything there. They then consolidate the packages and forward them to four star who moves them to the Caribbean.

https://www.fourstarcargo.com/

Sometimes, just moving mail or small individual packages we use fedex.

The only gripe I have is with SBI, they won’t open packages. So you can end up sending a huge package for a little stuff. Because they just use the smallest box they can find for all the other boxes. I did have them question sending something to us which was a really good move. So we are still pleased with them. And I can understand them not wanting to open and repackage packages, it’s just an annoyance you need to know about.
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Old 14-04-2020, 15:55   #5
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Re: Receiving packages while cruising

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Originally Posted by SVHarmonie View Post
And when traveling outside the USA, try really hard to wean yourself from Amazon. Stock up on routine spares, and work with the locals. They survive there. So can you.

I generally do but there are just some things you can't easily get, even in the States, without ordering through the big A. A lot of specialty food items are difficult to impossible to find outside a few of the larger cities, good quality tools, parts that fit US spec hardware, etc. It's generally a search for it locally first and if not buy through Amazon, Defender, etc.
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Old 14-04-2020, 17:36   #6
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Re: Receiving packages while cruising

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I generally do but there are just some things you can't easily get, even in the States, without ordering through the big A. A lot of specialty food items are difficult to impossible to find outside a few of the larger cities, good quality tools, parts that fit US spec hardware, etc. It's generally a search for it locally first and if not buy through Amazon, Defender, etc.
Honestly, to me, this comes across as a bit of the classic caricature of the "Ugly American." If you are traveling internationally, you have to just get used to eating what the locals eat, and skip the "speciality food items."

on't get me wrong, we use Amazon ALL the time when we are in the US. But counting on them when you are cruising is not a plan for success.

For a lot of Americans it will come as a shock that in most of the world peanut butter is a "specialty food item." If it is available at all it is insanely expensive. I love my peanut butter, but NOT that much! I imagine some Australians have the same reaction when they discover that Vegemite is not a worldwide thing.

The number of times we have had to have things shipped to us from the USA I can count on one hand, and most of those were parts for engines or other mechanical gear.

You should have all the tools you need before you leave. You will have a lot more fun if you cut the apron strings. It honestly sounds like you will spend a lot of time waiting for deliveries of "specialty" items that will arrive on island time, at island prices.
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Old 15-04-2020, 08:25   #7
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Re: Receiving packages while cruising

Once you see how much duty is charged in the Bahamas and Caribbean Islands it will be easy to wean yourself off everything but essential boat parts. "Yacht-in-transit" works to avoid duties in some instances but you'll spend several days and more than a few dollars for a customs broker to get through the paperwork.
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Old 15-04-2020, 08:34   #8
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Re: Receiving packages while cruising

Most destinations have a local mail/shipping store and in our cruising experience (in the U.S.) they are more than happy to receive and hold your packages for you for a nominal fee. We always call ahead and ask if it's OK to do so and so far the answer is always an enthusiastic YES!

These are typically locally owned small businesses and we appreciate their service and enjoy supporting them.

We've also used stores and shipping centers for UPS, Fedex, and USPS General Delivery.

Our mail goes to Traveling Mailbox and they scan all incoming mail and forward anything upon request.

We also have a UPS Store mailbox and they will hold any deliveries and forward to us upon request as well.

What we need for our boat is rarely available locally, and the ability to get our prescription medications by mail, physical mail that can't be scanned (replacement credit cards, etc) and other things not available locally gives us a lot of freedom.
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Old 15-04-2020, 08:48   #9
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Re: Receiving packages while cruising

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Originally Posted by mvmojo View Post
Once you see how much duty is charged in the Bahamas and Caribbean Islands it will be easy to wean yourself off everything but essential boat parts. "Yacht-in-transit" works to avoid duties in some instances but you'll spend several days and more than a few dollars for a customs broker to get through the paperwork.
St Martten is duty free. I think also Curacou but not sure.
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Old 15-04-2020, 09:30   #10
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Re: Receiving packages while cruising

Get ready for sticker shock.

Besides high freight costs you will have to hire an agent and pay import duty in most countries. You need to learn to be as self sufficient as possible and buy local. If you want some special delicacies bring them with you.

Even with vessel in transit, which will not work for anything but repair parts, you will have to hire an agent.

Postal service will only work if you can order in advance or plan to stay put for some time. It is slow and unpredictable. And have you looked at international postage rates from the U.S. lately?
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Old 15-04-2020, 13:17   #11
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Re: Receiving packages while cruising

The absolute best way is to have visitors bring stuff. Or buy a nephew or niece or friend a cheap round trip ticket and load them up as mules. We have waited weeks and paid fortunes to get stuff through customs even with a local agent.

Mule friends have carried engine parts, toilets, foodstuffs, the works to us.
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Old 15-04-2020, 13:58   #12
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Re: Receiving packages while cruising

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Mule friends have carried engine parts, toilets, foodstuffs, the works to us.
My youngest brother had a paying job in the late 70s carrying documents in his airline baggage allowance from New York to London and return. He carried his toothbrush and a pair of underwear in his pockets. For the lawyers and bankers, it was a cheaper and more reliable than any commercial service. I have not thought of this in years and years.

Like you Hobiehobie, we always have gift suggestions for our guests. We make sure they have copies of our vessel documentation and cruising permit along with a letter from me to show, if asked, to insure that they are not carrying items into the Bahamas for re-sale. They also carry receipts to prove value, again just in case.

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