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Set Adrift -- Sailing with
the Disney Cruise Line
Part IV in a series
by Deb Wills, ALL EARS® Editor
and Sue Kruithoff, Guest Contributor
This article appeared in the November 26, 2002 Issue #166 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the fourth in an ongoing series of ALL EARS® articles on cruising with Disney. This week, ALL EARS® welcomes the contributions of Super Shopper Extraordinaire Sue Kruithoff, who voyaged with Deb Wills on her most recent Disney Magic cruise and shares her insights on shopping at the Disney Magic's Ports of Call.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Do you love to shop? Then visiting the various Ports of Call during your Disney cruise will be an important part of your trip.
If you *are* a natural-born shopper, perhaps you already know that the best way to save money on a trip like this is to be prepared.
The very best advice is to know your merchandise and prices. If there is something special you plan to look for while on your cruise, be sure to do your research before you leave home. Be familiar with what is a "good" price for particular jewels or jewelry, if that's what you're after. Know how much a bottle of your favorite perfume or a certain designer watch costs. You will be glad you did! There are some great buys available, but you have to know what things are actually worth. You also need to know just what you are looking for and, even more important, how to tell the real stuff from the fake!
Shopping on the Disney Cruise ships is rather limited and, in most cases, very pricey. The big shopping draw is naturally at the Ports of Call.
You can, however, while away a little time in the various shops on the ship. Check your DCL Personal Navigator for shopping hours and merchandise specials. Each day is a little different and the "good buys" do sell out, so pay attention.
Note that shopping hours at the ship's stores are very limited and that they are not open in the daytime while in port.
Onboard shops include:
Mickey's Mates -- Located on Deck 4, this is your cruise line Disney Store! Disney merchandise of all kinds are available here, including postcards, trading pins, plushes, t-shirts, and logo merchandise of the Disney Cruise Line and the ESPN Skybox (a pub aboard ship).
Treasure Ketch -- Also on Deck 4, here you can purchase tax-free items such as watches, jewelry, loose stones, film and batteries, books and magazines, and upscale merchandise.
UpBeat -- Here you will find tax- and duty-free fragrances, liquors, and premium cigars; however, you may not consume the liquor you purchase on the ship.
Preludes -- This is the theater snack stop, complete with candy, peanuts, and popcorn.
Shutters Photo Gallery -- Throughout the cruise Disney photographers are ready and willing to snap your photo. You can be photographed with a variety of backgrounds and a variety of Disney characters, too! You'll find your photos each evening on display in Shutters. Purchase them as you go along (and save your receipts for possible quantity discounts) OR, if you'd prefer, review your photos every day. Discard the ones you don't want and stack up the ones you do behind each other. If you don't do this, there's a good chance all the photos will be discarded. Also, don't wait until the last night of the cruise to purchase your photos -- as you might imagine, Shutters gets VERY congested at the end of the cruise. Be sure to keep your eye out for specials in the Personal Navigator. On my last cruise, I was able to get a free 8x10 of the ship and characters because I'd purchased a certain quantity of photos!
As a side note, Disney had many loose gem stones on the ship. If you are interested in citrine, amethyst, blue topaz, sapphire or garnet, the ship offered a large selection at $10 per carat. They even offered pairs for earrings. This is a great price if you want to make your own jewelry.
SHOPPING WESTERN CARIBBEAN
Doesn't this sound like a dream job? Visit exotic Ports of Call to check out the available shops, make recommendations to cruise guests on where to shop, and handle any shopping-related problems.
It sounds great to me! And that's what Kerri, the Disney Magic's "Shopping in Paradise" Guide has to do daily. Kerri gives a lecture early in the cruise on shopping at the ports -- if you can't make it, BE SURE to watch it when it plays on the ship's channel 46. It will be well worth your time.
As Kerri stresses in her lecture, you should shop ONLY at those stores on the Disney list you receive, as Disney will only guarantee purchases made from these stores. You are taking a chance if you buy from a non-approved store. Obviously, this doesn't apply as much to t-shirts or other touristy items -- this applies chiefly to very expensive items that you would be disappointed to find out are not exactly what you expected.
The guide called "Shopping in Paradise," available for each port of call, is a shopper's friend. You can find these at the shopping desk (where Kerri is) and on the rack as you exit the ship.
OK, enough precautions -- on to the shopping fun!
If you are looking for a deal, you should be able to find one on this cruise.
But where to begin? How about Key West, the first Port of Call? We didn't look at a lot of jewelry here, but the t-shirts were fun and the prices were good. In fact, one place we stopped in on the way back to the ship offered us a deal. We were looking at Hawaiian print backpacks (made of fabric, very lightweight and cute), and the clerk said that if we bought a backpack, they would give us our choice of t-shirt. Needless to say, we made the purchase. (By the way, if you are going to do any amount of shopping on any of the islands, a small beach bag or backpack is a lifesaver, not to mention a product-saver! We lost a CD somewhere along the way -- if only we'd had our backpacks, we'd be listening to it right now.)
There are many unusual and interesting shops on Key West. We could have spent a lot more time browsing and wandering around the island -- Key West would make a nice long weekend trip.
Next up was Grand Cayman. Grand Cayman was a GREAT place to shop! We had a wonderful time wandering around looking at all of the jewelry. And talk about some good deals!
As good as the prices may seem, it never hurts to haggle a little bit. Always get the shop's rock bottom, out the door price... and then check somewhere else. Never settle for the first thing you see, unless you know that it is 'The One'. There are so many jewelry stores, in particular, that you might find something a little better, or a little cheaper. Just make sure before you leave any store that the clerk writes down the item you are interested in along with the price on the back of the shop's card. After going through five or more stores, you may forget where you saw that wonderful bracelet. The best prices we found were at the British Outpost. They had beautiful jewelry and loose stones. They also gave us a group discount for buying about five pieces of jewelry. (It never hurts to ask!)
The final Port of Call was Cozumel. The water was gorgeous, the welcome was grand, the shopping was... scary. All right, scary may not be the right word, but it could be intimidating for some people. Once you left the Punta Langosta Mall, it felt like you were at a carnival with all of the sideshow barkers trying to get you to come see their attraction. Most stores and bars had two to three people standing out in front trying to get you to go in. This is one place where you really better stick with the Disney list. We saw a couple of shops that had signs out front saying that they were Disney approved, but they were NOT really on the list.
Cozumel was a great place to get silver jewelry, if you could stand all the people vying for your attention. If you're buying here, make sure to check for the 925 marking on the silver, otherwise you may end up with silver plate. We are sure that there are many nice things about Cozumel. If there weren't, Disney would not stop there. We just didn't find the shopping experience as nice as at the other ports. Our best piece of advice at this port -- don't drink the water.
Obviously we didn't get to stop at every shop in every Port of Call, but we sure did have fun shopping at the places we managed to stop at! And in the end, that is all that matters.
Watch for Part V of this series on the Disney Cruise Line coming to ALL EARS® soon.
The first article of the Set Adrift series (Issue #144, 6/25/02) provided a history of the Disney Cruise Line (DCL), discussed the different types of cruises offered by Disney and described how to choose a stateroom. The second (Issue #152, 8/31/02) addressed weather, getting to and parking at the Port, staying in the area, and most importantly the cost of a cruise. The third (Issue #157, 9/24/02) discussed packing, check-in, reservations on board, the safety drill and Sail Away party.
All of our Disney Cruise Line information, including the previous features articles, is available at: http://allears.net/cruise/cruise.htm
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.