Here's what happened in Miami on Sunday.
We were given customs forms on board the night before debarkation. You're allowed to bring in $800 of duty-free goods, 1 carton of 200 cigarettes, 1 liter of alcohol, and I forget what else. More than that is subject to duty.
Most people just fill out the form indicating that they bought a few things, but are under the limits allowed. You wait in LONG lines and whenyou get to the agent, he/she looks at your form, looks at you, and decides whether to believe what you put or not. It's potluck whether they ask you anything or not. Most of the folks we saw were just waived through. Of course if you're carrying liquor purchased on the trip, it's easy for them to see if you have more than 1 liter because it's in boxes packed by the ship.
If you exceed the limits, you are ushered into another area where another agent asks to see your receipts and verifies how much over the limit you are.
Duty may vary, but here's what I know. The first $1,000 over the $800 of duty free merchandise allowed is assessed a 3% fee. Any amount over that is assessed a 6.5% fee. You pay right then and there (I paid cash, but I assume they take credit cards), get a receipt, and off you go.
I'm not sure what the duty rates on alcohol are, but they were waiving duty charges that were less than $10.
Oh, by the way, if your boxes of alcohol fall and break in the customs area, you still have to pay duty on them. I saw that happen and the people were not pleased, but that's the way it goes.
I'm still not sure how anyone gets bottles of alcohol home unless they drove to the terminal, but that's a whole other story.
Oh, and if you don't declare your purchases and happen to get pulled out of line for a full inspection, they can confiscate the goods from you. I didn't see that happen, but technically it can.