Duty-Free Shopping

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#2
central Florida
7 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
WELL, WE JUST GOT BACK FROM NASSAU, ST. MARTIN, ANTIQUA. I DO NOT SEE MANY BARGAINS! I WANTED TO BUY A PAIR OF RAY BAN SUNGLASSES. THE CHEAPEST I COULD FIND THEM FOR WAS $124 US. I GOT HOME AND BOUGHT THE EXACT SAME GLASSES ON E-BAY FOR $59 US! THEY ALL HAVE GOTTEN INTO THE SAME GIMMICK THAT THE U. S. RETAILERS HAVE USED FOR YEARS! MARK THE PRICE UP TO THE MOON, THEN GIVE 75% OFF AND THE AVERAGE YOKEL THINKS THEY ARE GETTING A DEAL! OH! THE DUTY FREE LIQUOR IN PUERTO RICO? THE BEST PLACE TO GET IT IS RIGHT AT THE AIRPORT!! THEY LET YOU CARRY IT ON THE PLANE IN SPECIAL BAGS THAT THEY CLOSE WITH ZIP TIES! AND YOU CAN BRING UP TO 5 LITRES EACH!! I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT! I ALSO FOUND THE BEST DUTY FREE LIQUOR WAS ON THE SHIP, ALTHOUGH THE VARIETY WAS NOT THE GREATEST, YOU ALWAY GOT A 1 LITRE. I NOTICED THAT IN NASSAU, THEIR GIMMICK WAS TO USE A 750 ML BOTTLE AND PRICE IT A COUPLE OF DOLLARS LOWER THANT THE SHIP PRICE, BUT YOU GET 25% MORE BOOZE! I DON'T KNOW WHERE THIS GUY BUYS HIS LIQUOR SAYING THE PRICE IS THE SAME IN THE STATES? NOT! I GOT A 1 LITRE BOTTLE OF GOSLINGS DARK RUM FOR $14 US IN THE STATES, A 750 ML IS $28......I GOT A 1 LITRE BOTTLE OF MACALLENS 12 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT FOR $32 IN THE STATES THE NEXT GRADE DOWN IN A 700ML IS $44. MY FEELINGS, IF YOU LIKE SHOPPING, GO AHEAD AND SHOP, AND IF YOU SEE SOMETHING YOU LIKE, BUY IT, BUT DON'T EXPECT TO GET SUCH A TREMENDOUS BARGAIN! AND ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND "CAVEAT EMPTOR!!" LET THE BUYER BEWARE!!! I ALSO RECOMMEND THAT IF YOU USE A CHARGE CARD ASHORE, USE ONE THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE ALL OF YOUR ACCOUNTS IN THE STATES TIED TO (so you don't have to change them all over) AND WHEN YOU GET BACK, JUST REQUEST A NEW CARD WHICH WILL HAVE A DIFFERENT NUMBER AND SECURITY CODE ON IT! THAT WAY, SOME DEVIOUS CLERK CAN'T WAIT A MONTH AND CHARGE SOMETHING IN THE NEXT BILLING CYCLE (I had it happen in Bermuda of all places) AND YOU WON'T NOTICE IT RIGHT AWAY! AND THEY WON'T DO ANYTHING TO THE PERSON IF THEY CATCH HIM! AND IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GET PESTERED TO DEATH BY CABBY'S AND WANT TO BE TOUR GUIDES, STICK NEAR THE LOCAL COPS! THE BAD BOYS STAY AWAY, THE GOOD ONES ARE KNOWN TO THEM, AND THEY LEAVE THEM ALONE BECAUSE THE DO NOT MAKE PAINS IN THE BUTT OUT OF THEMSELVES! P. S. DON'T FORGET TO "HAGGLE PRICE" MY WIFE IS BECOMING AN EXPERT!!! THEY WILL ALMOST ALWAY TAKE LESS!! IN COZUMEL, MY WIFE WANTED A BLACK CORAL NECKLACE FOR A GIFT, THE GUY STARTED OUT AT $240 DOLLARS (which she was going to pay) SO I SAID: "NO, TOO MUCH!!! AND WE WALKED OUT. WE PASSED THE SAME SHOP 4 MORE TIMES, THE LAST TIME, ON THE WAY BACK TO THE SHIP, HE CAME OUT AND WE HAGGLED SOME MORE, AND GOT IT FOR $80 US......NOW SHE HAGGLES EVERYTIME, AND IT WORKS!
#3
Orlando, FL
2 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Wow, thanks for the heads up. I will be cruising in Oct and will be going to St Thomas and St Maartan. Been there before but cruising with a group of friends so it will be fun. As a Florida resident, I do not have to worry about flights in and out so I zero in on the liquor prices. I did get a fantastic deal on Kalua in Cozumel last year and very decent prices on board on NCL. This year we are doing Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas and I cannot wait! I will definitely do my homework before going so I'm not scammed. I do not shop for jewlery - afraid to, and I do like to shop for native stuff.

Anyone want to share their experiences on Royal Caribbean? Loved to hear from you. Happy Cruising!
#4
New York City
9,515 Posts
Joined Sep 2001
It's disappointing to see that the story contained a paragraph about the purchasing of illegal goods, i.e. knock-off handbags, as shoppers SunshneNC touted how much she liked her illegal bags and shopper Bullock12 told people where the best prices were.

While it's true that there was an editor's note of warning at the end of the paragraph that US Customs will confiscate them if found; the shopping tips still appear to be an endorsement by Cruise Critic on the purchase of illegally trademarked merchandise made by sweatshops who "employ" and abuse workers who are often children.


Jane
RCI Champion
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#5
New York, NY
21,021 Posts
Joined Aug 2003
Originally posted by Jane110
It's disappointing to see that the story contained a paragraph about the purchasing of illegal goods, i.e. knock-off handbags, as shoppers SunshneNC touted how much she liked her illegal bags and shopper Bullock12 told people where the best prices were.

While it's true that there was an editor's note of warning at the end of the paragraph that US Customs will confiscate them if found; the shopping tips still appear to be an endorsement by Cruise Critic on the purchase of illegally trademarked merchandise made by sweatshops who "employ" and abuse workers who are often children.


Jane
RCI Champion
Hi Jane I agree with everything you say but the article is wrong. The official customs policy is to allow one knock off of a type in. One hand bag one pair of shoes etc not one pair of Gucci's one Faragamo etc....

http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/...eforeyougo.pdf

its on page 52!

However, travelers arriving in the United States may
be permitted an exemption and allowed to import
one article of each type, which must accompany the
person, bearing a counterfeit, confusingly similar or
restricted gray market trademark, provided that the
article is for personal use and is not for sale.
This exemption may be granted not more than once
every 30 days. The arriving passenger may retain one
article of each type accompanying the person. For
example, an arriving person who has three purses,
whether each bears a different infringing trademark,
or whether all three bear the same infringing
trademark, is permitted only one purse. If the article
imported under the personal exemption provision is
sold within one year after the date of importation, the
article or its value is subject to forfeiture.
#6
New York City
9,515 Posts
Joined Sep 2001
I read the customs form you linked to, and on the page before, page 51, it does say that's illegal to bring them in. I won't get into a duel about it with you, as it's unlikely that US Customs will confiscate one illegal handbag or wallet.
I think it gets to this area that you point out of allowing one in because they don't want to take up the time of customs agents with someone who's bringing in one illegal item as opposed to looking for other more dangerous things. That makes sense.

However, I think that if a shopping advice writer on Cruise Critic, or any other responsible community board, proudly tells people where to buy illegal merchandise, it's up to the editor to be better than that and delete such advice, rather than casually warn people it might be confiscated by customs and therefore appear to condone the practice of it. It appears to be like a wink and a nod.
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#7
Northern California
112 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Not mentioned is considering use of local currency, rather than dollars, especially in Mexico. I found that this often gave me an immediate 10 to 20% discount over what others were paying for in dollars. Recently, I was in Puerto Vallarta and took an excursion that stopped at a small tequila distillery. I paid for my bottle in pesos, but, when the owner didn't have 50 pesos in change, he grabbed a 5 dollar bill used by another tourist to buy their bottle, and gave it to me as change. At a 15 to 1 exchange rate, he actually gave me $7.50 in change, since he was using the older, 10:1 exchange rate.
#8
New Jersey
3,522 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Just back from Independence of the Seas (out of Ft. Lauderdale, stopped in San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Thomas). Agree completely with poster that their aren't many duty free deals out there -- I did some price comparisons both in St. Maarten shops and onboard. Neither were offering anything special (and, fyi, onboard was consistently more expensive than in St. Maarten). The only deals I really saw were from liquor and especially the farther away from the cruise hub on St. Maarten you go, the better the deals.

Didn't buy any though. Just don't want the hassle of getting it home.

Carolyn

Carolyn Spencer Brown
Editor in Chief

PS Will address the duty free situation both in our new review of Independence of the Seas and a new port profile on St. Maarten; these should launch in early May. Stay tuned!

Originally posted by FloridaChickCruiser
Wow, thanks for the heads up. I will be cruising in Oct and will be going to St Thomas and St Maartan. Been there before but cruising with a group of friends so it will be fun. As a Florida resident, I do not have to worry about flights in and out so I zero in on the liquor prices. I did get a fantastic deal on Kalua in Cozumel last year and very decent prices on board on NCL. This year we are doing Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas and I cannot wait! I will definitely do my homework before going so I'm not scammed. I do not shop for jewlery - afraid to, and I do like to shop for native stuff.

Anyone want to share their experiences on Royal Caribbean? Loved to hear from you. Happy Cruising!
#9
New York City
9,515 Posts
Joined Sep 2001
Thanks Carolyn,

That's great! I'm always interested in the best of the best for duty free.

Any opinion/comment on writers giving shopping advice on the best place to buy illegal goods (handbags, etc)?

Thanks.
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#10
Florida
33 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
I find St. Maarten the best island for buys. Liquor is more reasonable, but the best find is the jewelry. I have a jewelry store across from the place you sample drinks, Vicki (shortened name) where I go every time. His jewelry is unique and always gives a good price on items. I have come home w/some very unique pieces of jewelry (many compliments). Also Mike at a small jewelry shop near the tender. Can't remember names. The DH buys cuban cigars there.
Additionally, we always buy Rum Jumbie Mango splash (have other flavors) only made on the island. Ram Liquors will deliver to the ship. Discovered a wonderful drink w/Jumbie & Peach Fresca. St. Thomas is expensive & I usually buy cologne and silver there. Costa Maya used to be reasonable for silver, but not lately.
Before going on a cruise, check out prices for what you want (including the net) and then shop accordingly. Last cruise we got a great deal for whiskey on board. Most managers of on board liquor shops
will match island prices. Be careful of what you buy on board. Most watches can be purchased at more than half of the ship's cost and much of the costume jewelry can be purchased at the flea market. If purchasing on board, wait until about a day or two before it ends to purchase. Much of it is reduced! It's all about "buyer beware!"
Oasis, here we come!!!
#11
104,690 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
I find that I can get better deals at home -- just watch for the sales.

And if anything happpens to a piece of jewelry -- I can get back to the store.

A couple of years ago a friend bought his wife a ring -- the stone kept falling out -- his local jewlery store told him to take it back to the original place he bought it -- St Thomas. Unfortunately he died unexpectedly right before they were to cruise. Ring was never fixed.
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#12
Vero Beach, Florida
1 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
The issue of shopping for fine jewelry while in Caribbean ports has been hyped and discussed by cruise lines who tout their "recommended" shops (thanks to advertising arrangements, not actual legitimacy or quality of goods) to cruisers eager to buy a special memento of their trip.

But the unfortunate experiences of many who have posted on the internet regarding rip-offs and worse should be taken into serious consideration - particularly when one is considering the purchase of expensive gem stone jewelry.

Despite the fun of buying in an exotic port of call, people would be better advised to buy fine jewelry from a trusted jeweler back at home. At the very least, insist upon a complete description of the jewelry item including the stones, carat weight, metal composition, etc. And if you are buying a diamond, insist on a certification from GIA or EGL - although EGL certifications are notoriously "softer" than those of industry leader GIA. And don't accept promises that they'll send you a certificate that is (conveniently) not in the store at the time of your purchase. They won't.

DO NOT LISTEN TO THE HYPE BY CRUISE LINE SHOPPING EXPERTS!!! They are not experts at all, but instead work in a strictly business arrangement between the cruise line and its advertising partners - the jewelry stores. If you want to learn about fine gem stones, speak to a GIA gemologist and do your homework. There are many excellent books available to teach you about the ins and outs of buying diamonds and the 4 C's you absolutely need to understand regarding diamonds (cut, clarity, carat, color).

Just how and why cruising and buying jewelry got to be such "partners" is a mystery to me but please remember what P.T. Barnum said: "There's a sucker born every minute." Make sure that sucker isn't you and enjoy your cruise!
#13
tampa
3 Posts
Joined Nov 2013
[quote=FloridaChickCruiser;19107226]Wow, thanks for the heads up. I will be cruising in Oct and will be going to St Thomas and St Maartan. Been there before but cruising with a group of friends so it will be fun. As a Florida resident, I do not have to worry about flights in and out so I zero in on the liquor prices. I did get a fantastic deal on Kalua in Cozumel last year and very decent prices on board on NCL. This year we are doing Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas and I cannot wait! I will definitely do my homework before going so I'm not scammed. I do not shop for jewelry - afraid to, and I do like to shop for native stuff.

Never buy on board until you check the prices on land and in the islands rum is definitely a great value and do not care about duty free as the duty is not very much so when I down there I pick up a few cases as we live in our cruise port city and jewelry can be a good deal you have to be careful the better ports for jewelry is Columbia and panama and not from street merchants as it mostly counterfeit
also buyer beware buying watch's on carnival as my so called 330m dive watch I bought there failed the first time I took a shower and found it was fake Chinese crap and so not warranted