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Anne Campbell April 22nd, 2005 12:29 PM

Demise of Shopping in Port
I'm a world-class shopper, practically a black belt. I've shopped all over the world and visited many ports numerous times.

The US dollar is worth nothing in Europe. For 25 years I shopped in Italy. Last year all I could afford was a bottle of olive oil in duty free. It's the same throughout Europe.

The Caribbean has been a dud for years. In any category you can do much better on Amazon, Ebay and your local electronics store. Perfume is less expensive at home.
Why try to buy a camera in St. Thomas when you can spend less here and take it with you?

South America and Asia still have bargains. Haven't been there in a while but their currency is worth even less than ours.

It's true that travel isn't as much fun if you can't pick something up.

PapaBill April 22nd, 2005 01:10 PM

Re: Demise of Shopping in Port
I think you need to be retested for your Black Belt Anne. Where is your sense of adventure? Your instinct for the hunt? Shopping while travelling is a professional sport.
Only to be tried by the stronges members of the tribe (family).
Rushing down the main street to comparison shop jewelry, electronics or maybe leather goods in every possible shop in town. Negotiating a final deal. Trying to get it all done and still spend the afternoon snorkelling. Bringing your "find" back on the ship and displaying it for the four other women at your table. It is all part of the "hunt" is it not? Does price really matter as much as the "bauble" and the great story that you can tell about it's purchase in some exotic land where most of your friends have never been.
The thrill of knowing that if you make a mistake you have almost no recourse to get it fixed . Gram is a former World Champion in several classes of Travel Shopping
and I believe she intends to defend her title in St Thomas and St Martin in about 10 days. She will be competing in jewelry and perfume most definately . Each port will close for a week to restock the shelves after she leaves. Oh yes, she is undefeated
in the "souvenir for grandchildren catagory" and ships will turn around and sail for Tortola if they hear she is shopping in Charlotte Amoile. No point in landing, nothing left for anyone else.

SDR (Dani) May 31st, 2005 09:48 AM

Re: Demise of Shopping in Port

Has anyone told you lately you are a funny guy! Talented even. I laughed my head off. Go Gram, go!

Thanks PapaBill.


Mike M June 2nd, 2005 12:01 PM

Re: Demise of Shopping in Port
It may be the hunt for some but it is the prize for my wife. She is in agreement with Anne. Shopping in the islands is basically dead. The jewelry deals are basically non-existent. You can have fun but you won't really save money. On our last cruise the only real deal we found was on a silver necklace. It wasn't a monetary deal it was just "pretty".

What I find disappointing is the construction of the "Malls" at the piers. I can stand in Cozumel and feel that I am in Anytown USA. As a husband it gives me less incentive to part with money when it seems like any other purchase instead of a purchase in an exotic port.

Take care,

PapaBill June 2nd, 2005 12:32 PM

Re: Demise of Shopping in Port
In a more serious reply/response I truly agree that the days of the real bargain are probably dead . No longer do you have the advantage of purchasing from some small low overhard vendor. Nowadays, whether it is St Thomas, St Martin , Cozumel, Barbados or Ariba shopping seems not a whole lot different than going to a suburban Mall on a holiday sale weekend.
Some careful shopping may still score you a savings and you are always saving a few % by not paying sales tax even if the price is identical.
Deals are still there sometimes. We bought a pair of Citezen Eco Drive watches that came out to about $105 each. Comparable prices at home for the identical watch have never dropped below $149 (plus tax), even on the best sale. Ok so I saved $45 per watch and it only cost me $5000 to do it.

Mike M June 2nd, 2005 02:03 PM

Re: Demise of Shopping in Port

The last deal I found was in 2000 when I purchased a Breitling, Colt Ocean ,in, believe it or not, Jamaica. I still wear it everyday and have it cleaned and serviced once. I saved about 30% on the lowest price I have seen it in the states.

Since then I haven't seen anything that has interested me on watches. There are a few deals from the guys who open their coats and say, "Wanna buy a watch mon?" I wonder if there is warranty on Bolex? <VBG>

Take care,

glojo June 9th, 2005 05:05 AM

Re: Re: Demise of Shopping in Port
Can you spell C.O.S.T.C.O.
Still fun to buy the silver and other trinkets in the caribbean, but yes its best to know your prices.
My Dhubs collects pens, and he picked up a Versace fountain pen in St Marteen for a very good price. Its not something everyone is interested in so maybe thats why.
Frankly you can get better prices for electronics in Canada than in the caribbean. Just look at if you want to check, or

mariettalady2 July 9th, 2005 12:22 AM

Re: Demise of Shopping in Port
Anne: Have you shopped in Old San Juan? especially for jewelry and other items from the Carribbean? Any ideas on silver and gold jewelry for that area?

ondeck@sea July 16th, 2005 09:21 AM

Re: Demise of Shopping in Port
I agree with you, Anne. No more bargains down there. I bought a pretty multi-stone semi-precious bracelet last fall for $269 and came home to find it at TJMaxx for $289. Not much of a savings. I'm glad I did buy nice things in St. Thomas and St. Maartin when the prices were good a few years ago.

Parrot Mom August 1st, 2005 06:22 PM

Re: Demise of Shopping in Port
Several years ago in St. Thomas (for a week) I spotted a very expensive collectible in Little Switzerland.. Being as knowledgable as I could I talked to the saleswoman, the item was well over if I remember $500.00.. and I could tell by the box that it had been there for several years and since I was the only "sucker" who asked.. she was delighted to discount the item.. (I had the present price list which was higher and knew their cost)..Not only that a rep from the company was showing up on Friday and he signed the piece and my books. On another trip in the Grand Caymens went to a collectible shop and found the same collectibles at such a low price I bought not only a missing piece, but two other pieces that were never out of the boxes and were still cellophane wrapped.. Somehow or other I find trying to buy jewelry or cameras is a hard enough...and I'd prefer buying local crafts. Anne we are going to Europe in October and will look for spices,, handmade items... I will taste the wine from the port we are in and then have some for the ship.....

ziggypup January 2nd, 2006 10:21 PM

I have to agree with you reagrding shopping. Not many bargins to be found in the ports. The only things I buy these days in the ports are Cuban cigars, cigarettes and booze. The Caymans are great for Cubans, and St. Thomas for booze. With the Internet, shopping for high end goods are made so much easier. I get better deals on the Internet than I do in any port I have visited. Actually, I like that better because it gives me more time to sightsee.

MaryLou January 12th, 2006 08:40 PM

I remember being so excited about wanting to purchase a digital camera in St. Thomas. I had heard about all the great "deals". So I picked the one I wanted and got their "best price". I then when right outside to the internet cafe and looked it up online and found I could buy it cheaper online...the exact same camera. Needless to say, I didn't buy any electronics in St. Thomas. I honestly haven't found a good deal in the Caribbean in quite sometime. I don't even bother to shop any more (which makes my hubby a very happy man).

Fieldmouse January 19th, 2006 04:02 PM

Just a comment on shopping Asia...Hong Kong specificly.

We were in Hong Kong for 2 full weeks...went everywhere...Great place, had a wonderful time, but NO bargains, not even from street venders. We found it to be very much like shopping in Europe. A very nice selection of goods, excellent quality, beautiful European style clothes and shoes. Hong Kong is about 8months to a year ahead of the U.S. in what is the latest styles...but there were no bargains!

We then flew for a quick tour of Manila in the Philippines. We stayed in the Makati district, which is a commercial/business area. We found some GREAT finds and good prices on everything. Much, much better than Hong Kong!

Some friends who just recently visited Singpore, said prices there were also very good.

Mike M January 19th, 2006 05:11 PM


You have confirmed my suspicions. :( My wife was hoping for some good bargains but I told her that I thought they weren't as plentiful as they once were.

We were thinking about lightening our packing load and purchasing formal wear in Hong Kong. Did shop for any formal wear, especially ladies dresses or men's suits while you were there?

Take care,

Fieldmouse January 19th, 2006 11:44 PM

No we didn't...but a friend of ours had some custom made shirts and two suits. He loved them and said the prices were excellent.

Since we didn't follow up on the information (which we later regreted!) I can't remember where he got his stuff made.

BUT, as soon as you arrive...visit the Hong Kong Tourist Association...(it can be compared to our American Auto Association here) They can help you find ANYTHING and EVERYTHING in Hong Kong. They can also give you a list of businesses that have registered with them, have good references and honest business practices. The Hong Kong Tourist Association gave us free maps, directions, suggestions for tours, etc. They also have tour books too. It's a good place to start your visit to Hong Kong.

The rail system is spotlessly clean and very safe. (just don't do anything silly like 'flash' a wad of money) Cab service is fast, efficient and cheap.

We traveled from one end of Hong Kong to the other using public transportation. No problems at all! Toured most of Kowloon using the rail system., on time and very clean.

I'm allergic to MSG, so one of the employees at HKTA wrote in Chinese on a piece of paper, 'Please prepare our food with no MSG'. We were able to show this at restaurants, and other food venders. A life saver to say the least!

Yup...I'd give them a visit as soon as you arrive. There is one in Kowloon right by the pier and in one in Hong Kong...we've visited both.
There may be several more through-out the city...don't know for sure.

What a great adventure awaits you! We wanted to go back as soon as we boarded the plane to fly home!...You will have a great time. Enjoy!!

fleaberry May 5th, 2006 12:31 AM

I agree, bargains are few and far between in the Caribbean. I like to buy small pieces of jewelry or silver in Mexico because it makes me smile when I put it on in January when it is below zero!!! 8)

Lola June 3rd, 2006 02:23 PM

I bought some silver pendants with various stones in Costa Maya last year. Of course none of them had prices on them, and it was necessary to bargain for the pieces.
Imagine my surprise to see many similar items at Epcot in the Mexico pavilion, at much lower prices!

Since I do not cruise to the Caribbean to shop, I don't add in the cost of the cruise to the prices of the items I purchase. Shopping is just frosting on the cake, as far as I am concerned. Sometimes I don't spend a dime in a port!

I do buy David Yurman pieces in St. Thomas, saving about 15-20 percent on each piece, plus no sales tax. Since Yurman never goes on sale here, I consider purchasing it in the Caribbean a good deal.

As others have said, you have to know your prices.

Fieldmouse June 10th, 2006 07:41 PM

Anyone else notice all the jewerly stores crowded near the piers in Alaska. What has happen to all the Alaskan crafts etc.

This was our second trip through the Inside Passage and there are even MORE jewerly stores lineing the piers than on our last visits. Real boring touristy stuff line the front piers now in MOST of the ports.

The real crafts are now off on the side streets and you have to look for them. Whats with that?

vacaqn June 16th, 2006 09:10 PM


I too go for the Yurman jewelry. Next time you're in St. Marteen, try Artistic Jewelers. In St. Thomas it was AH Rise. Do you have a particular place you purchase from?

This past cruise was a great deal until we docked in St. Marteen on day 2. Artistic loved to see us. I ended up coming home with 5 new pieces because I couldn't make up my mind. Well, my very inexpensively priced cruise became one the most expensive one.

Found another great deal on a cruise for Nov. Unfortunately, St. Marteen isn't one of the ports, but St. Thomas is. I think there are a few pieces that I need to look at!

Lola June 25th, 2006 03:25 PM

I have bought Yurman at AH Rise in St. Thomas.
Also in Grand Cayman at .. Kirk? I forget -- begins with a K. Kirtland? :roll:
I haven't been to St. Martin in years, but if I go I, I will look for Artistic Jewelers, thanks!

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