Tip 1: Go to the Port Shopping Talk with the shopping expert.
Trust me, on my first day of sailing this was not high on my list of fun things to do either. Here you will learn:
-Which stores have guaranteed authentic jewelry for each port
-your cruiseline's jewelry guarantee policy for these stores (Norwegian for instance will pay you the difference of pieces you register with them if you appraise it and you overpaid)
-background and info on what to look for at each place (diamonds, tanzanite, silver, bamboo products, etc)
- the lack of sales tax in Mexico
- how to get 8.9% back in Mexico at their money back stations. (Still waiting to see ours. But we are still within 8 weeks of our cruise.)
Overall this talk is really helpful. You also leave with a card for a FREE charm bracelet that you can get a free charm at each port. I dislike charm bracelets so I sat out on that one. But if you have a daughter at home it's the perfect gift to bring back!
2. Take advantage of Mexico's duty free and tax free savings. Also make sure to find the stands that will give you that percentage back on your purchase.
Our first stop in Cozumel, I purchased a diamond ring and not paying tax was great. We also found the money back stand, but have yet to see that come through.
3. Take advantage of Diamond International's great service!
The ring I purchased at DI came with a necklace. When he could see that I was stalling (more about that in a minute) he threw in a necklace. I didn't like the necklace, so I said so. So he found a tanzanite necklace I did like. He lowered the price for us, resized it, changed the metal to rose gold, and threw in a FREE necklace. It was a great place to shop overall, and you will see them at basically every stop. This is where you will also get your free charms.
4. Haggling at vendors
I hate haggling. It makes me uncomfortable. Here is what I did that somewhat works like haggling if you're more reluctant to do it.
-act interested, then they know a sale is possible.
-if you're at a jewelry store ask them to take pieces out of the case
-here's the hard part: stall and linger. They will sense a sale and will lower the price to get you to buy. Stall more, and repeat that you love it. They might lower it again or ask you what you're willing to pay.
I really wanted pearl earrings. After my ring the hubby said no to more expensive pieces. So when I found real ones at a stand I was excited. (I checked! They were freshwater from Spain he said- saltwater pearls are more valuable) they had a gorgeous pink sheen and I loved them. So I said so, hemmed and hawed over them, and stalled. The beginning price was 25 dollars. He finally asked me what I was willing to pay. I said 15. He said 16 and we made a deal. 9 bucks off isn't too shabby and they are one of my favorite things!!
5. (If applicable) Go to the second port shopping talk!
This one was even better than the first because this time they gave out a card for a free pair of Tanzanite studs from Tanzanite international, the sister store of Diamond's International. They are tiny, but they are actually really cute, and were free. Can't complain! :)
I hope this helped a little if any of you are planning on taking a cruise anytime soon. Shopping is fun! You will need to report all your purchases on your return to the U.S. So I suggest making a list of everything as you buy it, plus the price you paid.
Bonus New Orlean's Tip:
Head up to Jackson Square for a caricature. It's fun! Here's ours: