The best part of a Caribbean cruise is the chance to visit a variety of island paradises, each one with its own special brand of allure. Some are hailed for their beaches, others for the unusual wildlife. These five are celebrated for the shopping —duty- and tax-free, luxurious shopping for top designer goods at bargain prices.
Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, has cemented its reputation as the shopping capital of the Caribbean. It doesn’t hurt that U.S. citizens get a $1,600 duty-free allowance here—twice as much as on other Caribbean islands. The streets are lined with 18th-century warehouses converted into luxury shops packed with imported brand-name merchandise. Look for exceptional prices on fine jewelry, watches, perfumes, liquor and cosmetics.
Savvy shoppers refer to this refined island as Brand Cayman, and after one look around George Town it’s easy to see why. No sales tax means duty-free shopping everywhere. The area near the tender dock is home to large emporiums and bustling shopping centers that proffer a vast array of local and imported items. Look for deals on top watches, fine jewelry, designer sunglasses, and state-of-the-art electronics. Local Tortuga Rum Cakes make great gifts.
Shiny new stores packed with shiny new things: it’s no wonder Falmouth is becoming one of the Caribbean’s top shopping destinations. The rising shopping star’s retail stores are housed in a brand-new shopping complex that’s just steps from the cruise pier. Take advantage of incredible prices on diamonds, watches, electronics, liquor, and more. The Historic Falmouth Cruise Terminal is also a top spot for local items like jerk seasoning, rum, and the prized Blue Mountain Coffee.
The Dutch capital of Philipsburg is one of the hottest shopping destinations in the Caribbean. The action is on the narrow, cobblestone Front Street, which runs parallel to the boardwalk by Great Bay. The duty-free shops offers stellar savings —up to 40% off mainland prices —on watches, fine jewelry, cameras and liquor. However, be warned: the shopping on the French side of the island can be pricier than at home, so stick to the guaranteed stores in Philipsburg.
Silver jewelry, colorful pottery, gourmet vanilla extract, and Mexican textiles are all good buys in San Miguel, the only city on the Mexican island of Cozumel. There’s also a superb collection of duty-free shops selling luxury goods —including limited-edition watches by coveted brands like Hublot. Start your day at the Forum Shops at the far end of the shopping strip. If you need to fuel up, there are many local restaurants where the guacamole is fresh and the margaritas are toast-worthy.