Pirates of the Caribbean: Shop Smart When Cruising to Cozumel - Veteran cruisers to the Mexican Riveria will te... | Michigan Bride | Cozumel, Cruise, Stores, Shops, Merchandise - Michigan Bride Pirates of the Caribbean: Shop Smart When Cruising to Cozumel - Veteran cruisers to the Mexican Riveria will te... | Michigan Bride | Cozumel, Cruise, Stores, Shops, Merchandise - Michigan Bride - Michigan Bride
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Pirates of the Caribbean: Shop Smart When Cruising to Cozumel PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mandy Karlik   
Wednesday, 26 December 2007


Veteran cruisers to the Mexican Riveria will tell you that there is more to recommend Cozumel than just electric blue waters, killer Margaritas, and great snorkeling. It may just be one of the all-time best shopping destinations in the Caribbean. So how can you steer clear of the pirates of the Caribbean (most of whom no longer wear eye patches but instead operate shops catering to tourists) and get a good deal?

Some of the best shopping in Cozumel is within easy walking distance of the port. The cruise ship docks and shoppers can pretty much walk to great shopping in a few minutes.

But there are lots of shops and even sidewalk displays. How do you know what's what?

There are really two main categories of merchandise in Cozumel. The first might be considered in the souvenir category and spans trinkets to very nice quality merchandise with a distinctive Mexican feel. The second category would be luxury products.

If you're interested in bringing home some colorful bracelets, a bottle of tequila, a leather wallet, maracas, or Mexican pottery, there are lots of shops. One of the best and easiest to navigate is Cinco Soles (Five Suns) near the port. Here you can find everything from toys to dishes to T-shirts to leather goods along with the ubiquitous tequila and bottles of vanilla (Mexican vanilla is generally of very high quality and reasonably priced).

The store personnel speak English and accept credit cards.

A fun shop in Cozumel that is not really Mexican is Del Sol which sells plain-looking T-shirts, tote bags, Frisbees, even nail polish, that change color when exposed to sunlight. Del Sol stores are all over the globe, but they're still fun and the bright sunlight of Cozumel shows off your Del Sol treasures to good effect. There's one near the cruise port.

You may also see small sidewalk displays and other offers for everything from marionettes to dangling earrings.

Wending your way through the shopping district of Cozumel can be tough, since merchants will speak to you and attempt to lure you into their shops. You can simply walk on by; merchants will not actually grab you and push you into their stores. Make eye contact only at your own peril; the more you respond to them, the more likely they will be to kick up their persuasion a notch to get you into the shop.

On the other hand, if you're out shopping, it can be fun to talk to local merchants and allow them to show off their best wares for you.

There are lots of big and small displays of such goods and if you do not spend very much, it is unlikely you can go too far wrong.

The other end of the Cozumel shopping spectrum involves luxury stores. Believe it or not, there are several outlets of Diamonds International and other high-end jewelry stores in Cozumel. You'll see them all over as you walk along the waterfront (likely in view of your cruise ship, that's how close they are).

Specialties at these stores include high-end watches, gold, silver, diamonds, emeralds, tanzanite, Mexican fire opal, and two rare gemstones ammolite and alexandrite. (If you do not know these stones, it can be worth a visit to one of these stores to see them.)

Don't expect these stores to offer diamond rings for a pittance. However, there are some good reasons why savvy shoppers go to Cozumel for jewelry purchases.

First, there is no sales tax in Cozumel. If you stay within your allowance for the amount of merchandise you can bring home without paying duty (which is $800 for a U.S.

citizen), you pay only for the merchandise. In the U.S., sales tax is around 8% and it is even higher in Canada and Europe.

Second, many of these top stores have an international presence. You can get customer service once you're back home.

Third, many cruise lines have developed relationships with some of these stores. This sometimes engenders suspicion, but the relationships are actually beneficial to cruise passengers eager to buy high-end merchandise.

If your cruise ship has a shopping expert or if there is a talk on shopping, by all means participate if you think you'll be buying products (particularly jewelry) in Cozumel. It is true that the shopping guru onboard will steer you toward certain shops and it is likely that those shops have paid a promotional consideration to the cruise line for that publicity.

But here is why that's good for passengers. Most cruise lines will not endorse just any store that can pay a fee.

Cruises return to the same port over and over again in a season and it would not be good business to recommend shops that were difficult to deal with, charged exorbitant prices, or otherwise were bad news for the customers.

Second, some cruise lines (such as Carnival) will allow you to register your purchases at selected stores while onboard. If you take advantage of this service, the cruise line guarantees the merchandise. That means if your new watch stops once you get home or you find out your gold and tanzanite ring is not authentic, the cruise line backs the merchandise.

Finding out if your cruise line does this and what shops it recommends is a great activity for you to do on your day(s) at sea before hitting Cozumel. Registering purchases with the cruise line should be done on the next sea day because you must register what you buy while still onboard the ship.

Luxury items abound in Cozumel: jewelry, perfume, watches, and even rugs. Rugs from Persia, Turkey, India, Pakistan, and other distant ports can be purchased in Cozumel (remember, no sales tax) and shipped home. The Rug Emporium offers an extensive display, lots of English-speaking help, and free shipping Stateside.

Last but not least, lots of people buy liquor in Cozumel.

Tequila and Kahlua are the most popular but by no means the only alcoholic purchases you can make. Liquor can be purchased in Cozumel at the shops or can be bought onboard ship for around the same price (but possibly not with the same selection).

The same is true for perfume. The onboard shops likely offer some fragrance and cosmetic products, but the big perfume shop on Cozumel's main street by the harbor has a much more extensive collection. If what you like is onboard, you can probably get about the same good deal as you can by buying it in the land shop. However, if you want to see a broader range of products or you want to buy a product that the onboard boutique does not stock, you need to try the land store.

Cigar aficionados will find that Cuban cigars are not only legal in Cozumel (and onboard once the ship is in international waters) but plentiful. If this is a big deal for you, enjoy them in Mexico and on the boat, but don't bring them back into the U.S.

So what about those famous pirates of the Caribbean? There are likely a lot of vendors in Cozumel who sell shoddy merchandise or who sell counterfeit products or merchandise (like silver or gold) that is not authentic. If you are not expert enough to know the difference, steer clear of shady looking vendors or shops far off the beaten track. The old adage "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is"

holds true for ridiculously priced diamonds or gemstones.

Most cruise lines will warn you to avoid spending big money with dubious vendors. If you want to buy a T-shirt, a kid's necklace, or some typical souvenir items, go ahead and shop the small stores or street vendors. If you are thinking of spending hundreds or thousands on jewelry, go to a reputable and recommended store. They're there in Cozumel!

 

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Never cruised before but think you might like to try? Or are you a veteran cruiser looking for a new adventure?

Either way click through to

http://www.TheCruise-Shopper.com for the latest in cruise ship fun. This article was written by Mandy Karlik who just got back (with a tanzanite ring) from Cozumel.

 

 
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