On another board, there was a story about a passenger buying fairly expensive jewelry at a port (not Alaskan) with the belief that since the stones were indigenous to the area it was a good price, and then discovering that it was worth much less than what she paid. It got me thinking: do experienced Alaska travellers have any shops (or excursions) that they would *not* recommend, because they feel the product or service was inferior?
The shops in Alaska are completely different. They're not the "tropics" cruise ship rip-offs. The only excursions I've seen routinely bashed are the float trip in Juneau and the jeep trips. I've never seen any shops bashed.
You're trying to educate yourself, obviously. If there are things you're interested in, post them. Otherwise, I'd say Alaska merchants are quite trustworthy, although prices do vary.
There is a lot of merchandise made in China in Alaska, just like any other tourist area. Compare shops, go to the ship buyers talk, and if a deal somewhere looks to bee too good, there is probably a problem. We saw most of the same items in every port and in most shops. As stated already, there are special tags or labels for made by Alaskans, and there are some items that you cannot legally take out of Alaska?
Just finished "thumbing through" Frommer's Alaska Cruises & Ports of call 2004. Just about ALL of the above postings are addressed in this book. May be worth looking into. Specifically, page 172. Caveat emptor. Bon voyage!
Once upon a time the majority of merchants in cities like Juneau and Ketchikan were owned and operated by Alaskans . Today, these retail stores are owned and operated by out of state corporations and many are owned by the same operators you may encounter in the Caribbean.
I think the most interesting purchase for me was the garnet in Wrangell. There were two young people sitting at card tables near the dock selling them for very little money Ex $3-20 .I was fascinated by them. When i arrived home I looked for garnets on the internet and there was Wrangel mentioned as one of the 4 areas in the world where they form. the stones are in other rock and are faceted. Amazing. Good shopping. We also bought the Ulu knife. The 29 dollar one Do Not buy the video. and the earrings of Alaska pearls for 99 cents. I should have bought more than the 4 i bought. Piece o mine