Best Caribbean Cruise Port Shopping

by Ilona Kauremszky

All I kept thinking was: I can’t believe the deals!

I had heard about the shopping opportunities in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but I had no idea there were so many bargains. The USVI is one of the biggest ports in the Caribbean, and mega liners arrive regularly to visit the islands and for duty-free shopping — which means only one thing: shopping galore.

The Yacht Haven Grande, located alongside Charlotte Amalie Harbour in St. Thomas, is a spanking new shopping complex lined with deluxe boutiques like Black and White and Gucci. Strolling inside the cool, climate-controlled interior was a perfect way to wile away the hours as the sun blazed outside.

Then I was off to the shops by the pier, where I jostled with the shuttle buses, foot traffic and cabbies descending on this shopping haven. Nevertheless, I managed to find some cool pirate T-shirts for the kids and spotted a Pandora outlet!

Charlotte Amalie is St. Thomas’ main shopping hub. Several shopping districts and a high concentration of outlet shops create a power shopping opportunity for timed visits from passengers aboard the huge cruise liners.

The other popular shopping area in Charlotte Amalie is Main Street, which is exactly what it sounds like: a quaint, colonial street lined with jewelry shops offering your choice of diamonds (chocolate, pink and traditional white), precious stones, gold and pearls. It’s one of the few places in the Caribbean where you’ll find Tiffany’s, the temple of fine jewellery — which is located in a historic two-storey colonial storefront.

Aside from the more-than-ample selection of jewellery shops clustered together, I loved the haggling and negotiating. It’s a chance to get to know the locals, some of whom I discovered come from as far away as Quebec!

In St. John, Mongoose Junction, located in Cruz Bay, is a palm-tree fringed shopping quarter built to look old. The area boasts some fine local merchants and eateries, including The Tap Room, run by the guys who created the local brew, St. John Beer.

And, best of all, transactions are in U.S. dollars, which makes shopping just that much easier.