The fourth of eight observations on a recent Caribbean cruise.
Making my still-uncertain way from cabin to, well, anywhere on this ship, I pass shops selling cruise line souvenirs, jewelry, fine timepieces (aka ‘watches’), specialty liquors, leather accessories, and modern art.
Wandering into the balcony of the theatre/theater 20 minutes or so before the White House Insider talk is scheduled to begin, I’m surprised to find a substantial audience already assembled and someone on stage, doing a presentation. Am I late? In the wrong location? Finding a seat from which I can retreat unobtrusively if necessary, I sit down and take my first look at this 500-seat venue. An energetic young woman onstage is enthusing about jewelry and leather shopping opportunities in our first port of call, two days hence. Designer names!! Duty-free prices!! I flip open my book.
Over the next two weeks, as each port of call succeeds the previous one, the onshore shopping opportunities blur into one. To my untutored and uninterested eyes, it appears that every Caribbean island/nation has attracted the same coterie of upscale international companies selling diamonds, emeralds, fine timepieces, linens, and perfumes. At the opposite end of the quality/price spectrum, every island seems to offer the same souvenirs and sun-and-fun wear. Only the names on the t-shirts have been changed to reflect that day’s location. If there are unique items to be found—distinctive local products not available elsewhere—they are not obvious to me.
Meanwhile, onboard, deep-discount cruise-end sales generate the desired spike in sales even though they lack any seasonal inventory-reduction logic. I wonder how those who bought at full price in the first week feel now.
The Friends of Bill W. have daily meetings: maybe they’d like to offer support to shopaholics too.
Note: The structure of the first seven of these eight observations was inspired by Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar.