Silly question RE: caribbean shopping



I know this probably is a very stupid question, but this month will be my first cruise to the Caribbean, and I'm actually nervous about the shopping....specifically the haggling. Do you all have any tips or hints you could give me about how to haggle/bargain/etc.? Do you try to get a lower price for everything...including little trinkets like magnets, mugs, etc?
BTW, we've doing the western carribean...Cozumel, Ocho Rios, and Grand Cayman.

Thanks so much for your help!!
The Bagaining-Challenged, LisaL :)


Dont bother shopping Grand Cayman, its like Rodeo Drive...Coz has lots of nice stuff, and Jamaica-stay on da ship mon!!


We have been to Cozumel & Grand Caymen. Cozumel is clean & beautiful. Don't miss Stingray City in Grand Caymen. It seems that the prices are pretty set in the "stores" or better markets. But you can bargain with the vendors at smaller booths or flea markets. Offer half of what they ask & work from there. Also, compare shops prices and then go back and buy or bargain. A lot of vendors have the same stuff, but the price can be different. Have fun! You're on vacation! Enjoy!


Hi LisaL:

I know what you mean. I find it demeaning to both the store keeper and to myself to quibble over prices on articles that may interest me.

What I have found I am comfortable saying is: for a costly piece of jewelry...."I'm sure it is worth all of that and it is a beautiful piece but that is more than it is worth to me." Invariably, they always reply, "How much is it worth to you?" and then I answer with the amount I wish to pay. No one is insulted or feels petty. They ALWAYS lower the price when I use that line because they feel they've been treated respectfully by not telling them they are out of their mind to think some idiot would pay their asking price....even though that's what I am thinking!! lol

For a trinket or small article I might say "Is that the best you can do on the price?" Sometimes they take a few dollars off, sometimes not. I've seen cruise pax get really ugly with trying to get a few dollars off the price of a t-shirt or some little souvenir at the straw market. The people in these islands see us get off these gorgeous ships and then we beat them up over $1 or $2 and they resent it....I would. They don't want to hear how many people on the ship have saved for take this cruise. Many of them could never save enough to ever take any cruise.

If you think it's more than you wish to spend...just says thanks and walk away. Then try the next store and see if you like that price better. All of the shops have variations on the same merchandise.

Just don't stress out over it! This is vacation and if the shopping is not fun.....don't bother with it!


Agree with most of above! The prices in Grand Cayman are higher than back here in the States!!! A beautiful black coral fish that I bought in Cozumel for $ 35.00 was $ 95.00 in Cayman!! Same exact piece... In Mexico, they usually expect 50% to 65% of the asking price. In Jamaica, it's even less. On our last trip there, I saw a walking stick that I liked. They were asking $ 20.00. I evntually bought it for $ 6.00. So long as you smile, and haggle in a friendly way, they don't take offense and it's all a big game! Go with the flow, because the haggling is half the fun of the shopping. Don't feel embarassed, it's expected. The merchant's laugh at, and make fun of, customers who don't haggle....


In Cozumel you will notice some shops don't have prices (closest to the street). A few streets back they do... It seems they raise the price when the ships are in so why price everything.. I found the stores a ways down past the main pier in town (Where NCL parks can't miss it) or the ones a few streets back off the main drag are much nicer and easier to deal with.. By the way - only have so much money in your pockets. If you deal it is easy if you can say well I only have so much - they will usually take it. This is great if you want to add a small item on and have about $2 more than what you are buying on you - a lot of times they will take it. They have nylon hammocks that are awesome - I've had mine for years. We haggled the poor man down to $25 on a double very nicely made nylon hammock and felt so guilty after I got it home - the next time I tried to find him to give him more money.. I used it everyday on our back deck.. A few dollors means more to them than to us... So sometimes I don't really haggle... Just me.. :)

In Cayman the perfume prices are pretty good and the rum cake is great!

In Jamaica the Blue Mountain Coffee is excellent if you like coffee - I mix half in with regular coffee and you can still taste it. It is $50 a pound here in the states. I've also gotten wood carvings that are awesome in Jamacia as well as some caribbean art work (I ran out of room in the house for suveniers so now I'm down to the walls!)... :) Debbie


We didn't buy anything in Ocho Rios and will stay on the ship if we ever go back to Jamaica.
In Cayman, much like at home, you have to know what you're looking at and what it goes for at home. We did find some good buys at Columbian Emeralds/Diamonds in Paradise (watch the earring posts. They tend to be much thicker and uncomfortable to wear.) And good deals on tanzanite at another store (name escapes me, but it's on the corner across from the museum. If you're looking at the museum, it's to the right.) Know the quality of the merchandise!!! We also found there was much less room for haggling in Cayman.
In Coz., bargaining got to be much more of an effort than it was worth. And in some places, the quality just wasn't there. The only place we bought was Rachat and Romero. Yes, there was bargaining, but not a lot, as we felt the prices were very reasonable for the quality (which was good) we got. And they were much more...professional? Not sure that's the right word. Some of the other places just seemed like I wanted to take a shower after I left. Pushy, but differently than in Jamaica. And very slick. A lot like some NYC stores used to be.

Best advice in any area---know what you're getting. Do your homework. Much like if you were shopping at home.


I hate having to say how much I'd like to pay for something (I'm always afraid I'll insult them, or say I'll pay way too much). So I just keep looking at something I want, and then start to walk away, they'll make an offer, I'll look at it again and say nooo, I can't pay that much and around and around till you feel you've gotten the best deal you can. Be sure to take small bills with you so you don't have to give them a 10 or 20 when you said you couldn't afford that much. If I'm buying small things I try to keep 3 or 4 singles in one pocket as if that's all I have. I found some great jewelry in Jamaica that I get compliments on all the time.

Funny story, my sister found a dress that we both thought was beautiful, but probably a little too big - it had lace handwork all across the top - for $80. She looked and looked at the dress they started bargaining and she said she couldn't afford it and started to leave. They kept stepping in front of her, comming down on the price and she kept telling them that she wasn't bargaining, that she really couldn't afford it(she only had a $20 as we really hadn't planned on "shopping"). She stepped around a clerk to leave the shop and the shopkeeper grabs her arm and says $35. My sister again explains (in limited spanish) that she only has $20 and shows it to him along with her empty pockets. The shopkeeper grabbed the $20 threw the dress at her and walked away. We avoided walking by that shop on our way back to the ship and I think my sister still feels guilty to this day. LOL


In Jamaica, PLEASE get off the ship, if only to buy some Blue Mountain coffee. Some of their rum is wonderful, and you don't have to leave the immediate area of your ship to buy some...unless you're docked at the old bauxite (?) loading facility. In that case, I think I'd venture to town to buy some. The last two times we stopped in Ocho Rios, we walked to town, and were never bothered by anyone. Be "street smart," just like you should be at home. Most victims LOOK LIKE victims and act like victims. Be aware, walk confidently, and you'll be least if you're not alone. The coffee alone is worth it. There are cruise line-approved taxis, too, and you can depend on them.


My bargaining technique is to find something I want to purchase, ask the price, then ask how much for two....then hem and haw a bit. I've found that if you buy in multiples the price keeps going down. I bought some really nice men's leather belts for $10 each. Also bought a really heavy SS bracelet with the "this is all I have left technique" (and it was all I had many shops, so little time & money). Bargaining is fun, but I agree with previous posters, use a sense of humor and respect. I've seen people be downright rude and frankly, I was embarassed to be from the same ship.

Dave m

rox52 made some key points to getting a deal. However, this is a trump card that has to be properly played. If you are just beginning to look around & you ask how much for 2, then you will pretty much have to buy two, or else, don't expect the price for one to drop too much after you have asked about 2.

Also, if you make an inquiry and continue shopping without purchasing, and you end up going back because the earlier price was in fact the best, the salesperson will most likely remember you and will know that s/he has a sale & will have little incientive to bargain any further.

My tip - if you get a few quotes on the same thing & then you get a really great quote, try & get that person as low as possible & then buy from them. You will be happy knowing that you got a great deal. if you try to go back & find another salesperson & try to talk them down further by saying "well, i can get it for X right over there"- then you have expect them to respond, 'ok, go get it over there."

However, most of these people want to make sales, but they are not always as desparate as some tourists think.

Enjoy the game


By the way - do not deal on something you do not intend to buy if they offer you the price you are wanting. It is very insulting to the sales people... If you want something and ask for a certain price and they say yes - then get it don't walk out... Just a thought... :) Debbie