Finding My Vacation Giveaway/Reviews Photos Trial and Error

Shopping in the Eastern Caribbean

A door from Mi Pequeno San Juan.

In an effort to wrap up the posts on our cruise, I’m posting over the weekend. As is typically my practice, I don’t post on weekends because that is reserved for family time….for you and for me. So I don’t mind if you wait until a week day to read this. 

On the Norwegian Sun and at every port we visited there were plenty of places to go shopping. Everything from little knick-knacks to high-end jewelry to sheets, shoes, clothes and bags, there was everything under the sun on each island. Most of the time, the same retailers were on multiple islands. The thing we really thought were cool were the little mom and pop shops with handmade items and we definitely picked up a few along the way.

No one warned us that shopping would be such a huge topic on the cruise. I knew there would be things to buy, but one of the great things about this cruise and the places it goes is that, if you do it just right, you don’t have to pay duty on the goods. You get several hundred dollars at each port that you can buy without paying tax when you declare it upon returning to the United States. Plus, because St. Thomas is a U.S. Virgin Island, you can spend even more money there. So people were after the big ticket items. To us, $150 on bamboo sheets was too much, but some of these people were picking up precious gems and incredibly fancy jewelry, just like the woman who sat next to us at East Meets West.

In fact, the ship held shopping information sessions almost daily to help people learn how to bargin, where to shop and how to use the ship’s “shopping coach” to their advantage. I caught one on the ship TV channel one early morning. First of all, I can’t even haggle over a used toy at a garage sale, I can’t imagine haggling over a piece of jewelry or a watch. But apparently this husband/wife team can really help you get some good deals. We saw them in every port and they were even on the ship talking about jewelry for sale in the galleria area and helping people get some deals onboard.

At every port, we were given a coupon book as we got off the ship. In it were coupons for free trinket, silver-plated cheap jewelry just to get you in the stores. We have no shame. We took our coupons, visited the stores (sometimes I tried on beautiful rings, I won’t lie), and got our little charms. They were the PERFECT gifts for our little girls! We got a few charm bracelets and some silver plated characters and even some tiny little tanzanites.

While we were searching out our free charms and necklaces in each post, we kept running into Cariloha and we really wanted to buy their bamboo sheets, but we thought we could get a better deal or at least we should do some research to know what we were buying. Instead we asked for them, and received them, for Christmas.  We bought bags and T-shirts, magnets and wicker bags. We bought Christmas ornaments and rum cake. But one of my favorite things that we bought came from a little hand-made arts store in San Juan.

We bought a handmade tiny door–an exact replica of doors from around the old town in San Juan–from Mi Pequeno. I purchased a small, purple door modeled after Calle del Sole. The artist who made the doors, along with other handmade gifts, personalized the door with our last name. I love it. I’m waiting until we paint our bedroom and then it’s going in there–the perfect spot.

While he was personalizing the door, I was browsing through other work. I found a few poems and then I read one that nearly made me cry. It was written by Lee Andrews, the wife of the owner or Mi Pequeno. She had her own store just around the corner, but a few pieces were on display at Mi Pequeno. They were beautiful. I bought one. From time-to-time I go to Mi Pequeno‘s website to read the work and look at the pictures.

I’m sure there were lots and lots of great deals out there, but finding those little shops, sort of like the one in Holland, Mich., that I love to shop at, make an entire trip worth it!