No vacation is ever complete without a shopping trip and if you’re taking a Caribbean cruise, you’re in for a special treat! Many of the Caribbean islands are known for their duty-free and even tax-free shopping. Luxury goods, designer fashions, jewelry, cigars, and liquor are often sold for much less than you would pay at home. There is also the opportunity to buy items native to or handcrafted in the Caribbean islands. Below is a summary of what to look for on the various islands.
Most of Antigua's shops are clustered on St. Mary's Street or High Street in St. John's. Visitors will find duty-free shopping for British woolens and linens, as well as locally made products like beautiful pottery, ethnic dolls, steel and wooden sculpture, photography and paintings. The Antigua Artist's Exhibition and the Craft Fair are the main exhibitions that happen in November, so if you are cruising then, you may want to check out.
Broad Street in Bridgetown has the island's greatest concentration of duty-free shops including Harrison's, the island's largest department store. Local shops seem to specialize in all things English. Merchandise includes bone china from British and Irish manufacturers, watches, jewelry, and perfumes. Located on the main road near Deep Water Harbour, just outside the shopping district, is the Pelican Craft Center. Housing over 20 shops and workshops, it’s one of the largest craft centers in the Caribbean. Barbados rum has a distinctive flavor and Mount Gay Rum is a well-known name and a favorite souvenir of visitors.
On Curacao, an island with ties to the Netherlands, shoppers will find bargains on Delftware, clogs, and cheeses. One of the islands most famous exports is Curacao liqueur made from the laraha citrus fruit. If you get the chance, visit the Floating Market. Vendors from Venezuela bring their boats filled with fruits, vegetables, fish, and handicrafts to the island and then sell their merchandise directly from their boats.
The Dominican Republic is one of the few places in the Western Hemisphere where amber can be found. Much of it is made into beautiful jewelry. You’ll also find jewelry that showcases the locally found stone, larimar, a blue stone similar to turquoise. Fuente cigars, handmade in Santiago, and those from the Ciabo Valley are very sought after. Locally made products include embroidery, fabric dolls, leather goods, mahogany and cedar handicrafts, Dominican rum, and coffee.
Grand Cayman Island:
This island is duty-free and tax-free and visitors can select from luxury goods like jewelry, china, porcelain, Swiss watches, and other items. Some of the George Town duty-free shops are located within walking distances of the island's cruise terminal. Locally produced items you might want to bring home include woven straw baskets, hammocks, jewelry made of conch shells, black coral, or caymanite, a marble-like stone from the cliffs of Cayman Brac. Don't forget to bring home a famous Tortuga Rum Cake from the Grand Cayman factory store/distillery!
Visitors to Jamaica can choose from a variety of native foodstuffs as take-home treats such as Jamaica’s Blue Mountain coffee and Tia Maria, the coffee-flavored liqueur made on the islands. The famous jerk seasoning (a blend of Scotch bonnet peppers, allspice, and other herbs) and Pickapeppa Hot Sauce are also very popular. Other common souvenirs include Jamaican rum, woodcarvings, woven baskets, and handmade sandals.
Truly traditional Puerto Rican handicrafts include papier-mâché masks called caretas, worn during Carnival and carvings of santos, which are religious figurines of patron saints carved out of wood, stone and gold. Puerto Rico is also famous for the quality of its handmade lace, which is called mundillo. The decorative lace is used for everything from home items like tablecloths to special creations such as customized wedding dresses.
St. Maarten / St. Martin :
Because of the massive influx of cruise ships, shopping in Dutch St. Maarten is now about the finest in the Caribbean for deals in electronics, cameras, designer fashions, watches, and crystal, along with linens and jewelry. French St. Martin is especially good for fashion or perfumes imported from France.
Charlotte Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas, is home to literally hundreds of duty-free shops, making it the top duty-free shopping destination in the Caribbean. Main Street, Back Street, and Waterfront Street and the alleys in between are homes to shops selling discounted jewelry, alcohol, cameras, clothing, and much more. Locally produced goods include shell jewelry, carved calabash bowls, straw brooms, woven baskets and handmade dolls."