I recently returned from a Zenith sailing. I was amused and at
the same time disappointed by the shopping advice given by the
cruise staff during their presentation. They would only discuss
certain shops that were on the illustrated map they hand out. When someone had questions about items or stores that weren't on
the map, the staff would either talk around the question or would
ignore the inquiry completely. Finally, at one point, after being asked several times about the same place, he said " I can't
talk about that store, because it's not on our recommended list."
Later, in one of the ports, My nephew heard exactly what it takes to be on that special recommended list: A shop owner was arguing with ship's shopping specialist, and was asking why he had to pay so much to be on their list, when he pays so much less to be on the other line's "recommended shopping list"!!
- - So- word to the wise, if a place is recommended, it doesn't mean the quality or price is any better, it just means someone has paid an advertising fee. (So much for our ship staff looking out for us!)
I never listen to cruise crew's advice about where to shop. I do however get the coupons in case you see something you want to buy there. They did give some good advice in Mexico about what to look for in real silver.
Many people I've spoken to about shopping on cruises have told me they shop at the "recommended stores" because of the cruise lines "guarantee".
I think most people know and understand the "recommended stores" pay for the designation from the cruise lines, but still shop for high ticket items at those stores for what they conceive as having the cruise line ready to back them up.
Though, I would be curious to hear if there's anyone that has ever found the need to call the cruise line to assist with this "guarantee", and how effective their assistance was.
Well, of course the recommendations are bought and paid for. Just because you're on a cruise ship doesn't mean that you get to abandon all the "caveat emptor" precautions that you would apply to your purchasing decisions at home. Cruise lines have been paid to hustle stores forever. What those on-board shopping people tell you is just a form of advertising, nothing more.
If you go on cruises because you expect the line to "take care of you" in every possible aspect of your life, you're setting your expectations far too high. I believe that some people go on cruises to be insulated from the places they go instead of exposed to them. I think that's too bad, but it's their lives.
Cruise lines generally do a good job of giving you what they promise. In many ways they tend to go above and beyond. But they're not there to provide a sterile, perfect world in which passengers can check their good sense at the gangway. They're businesses and they're always looking for ways to make money. Shilling for stores is a tried and true moneymaker.
All the stores are there for you. It's up to you decide where to shop, just like at home.
A fellow passenger on a Princess cruise bought a fairly expensive opal ring at Columbian Emeralds. And CE is one of these "touted" stores. As those who have purchased there know, Columbian Emeralds does provide a 90-day guarantee on defects. Defects, here is the operative word.
Well, the stone broke and she contacted Princess. They told her to contact CE. She contacted CE. They said too bad.... she was negligient is handling the opal ring.
I purchased a ruby and diamond ring from a Touch of Gold in St. Maarten. The stones are all channel set in a Greek "Key of Life" pattern. Somehow.... I don't know how, I lost one of the rubies. I emailed the store asking how do I get my ring fixed. Within 20 minutes I had a phone call from the store, with precise instructions where to send the ring in NY to be fixed... at no charge. To the best of my recollection, I don't think they were a "Recommended"....
We used a recommended store in Aruba. The clasp on the gold necklace we bought turned black! We gave the necklace and the bill to RCCL. RCCL took care of all of the details and a credit appeared on our charge.
To reply to "AR": I appreciate your thoughts on buyer beware;
When I posted the subject, I was remembering many cruises, and
many years ago- - (I've been cruising since the early 80's) The cruise shopping specialist actually did help you by letting you
know where the true bargains were- - (from the staff's
own experience), and they told us where to be more cautious if
we chose to shop there. No question was ever turned away or
sidestepped as I am finding currently. It's not that I expect to
be coddled, but the ship's staff know the islands and stores much
better than the passengers do, so it just made sense that they
would pass along that helpful info to us. I equate it with the
crew a lot of times sharing with us the fun dancing places or
out of way beaches that we might enjoy.
I think if u talk to the ships staff, they'll still give the best advice on shops, beaches etc. It's just the actual port lecturers views that u want to take with a grain of salt. The rest of the staff are usually very helpful!
I find the casino staff are the best to ask, because they're off work in every port of call.
Also, I don't necessarily think "recommended stores" are bad. Some can be very good, its just that they're paying for the advertising.