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Friday, July 21, 2017

Don’t Come Home Without Them—Must-Buy Mementos from the Caribbean

Fodor’s recently did a piece on the nine must-buy souvenirs on a Caribbean cruise. Which made me think—what would be on my list?

So, this is what I came up with:

Woven wares from Dominica. They’re not sold at every stall in Roseau, so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled, but the locally woven baskets make great—and useful—souvenirs to bring to those you left behind or keep for yourself.

Handmade, locally made in Dominica
The "Caribbean Gem." Mined in the Dominican Republic but available in many of the Caribbean isles, the lovely milky blue larimar can be found set in all kinds of jewelry and best yet, isn’t too expensive. I picked up earrings in a silver setting at St. Thomas’s Havensight pier for about $45.

Ceramics, onyx from Cozumel. While the silver jewelry is terribly tempting in Cozumel, each time I see the shopkeeper walking around with a calculator, it reminds me I can’t afford it. But what everyone can afford and is certainly worth it is Cozumel’s ceramics. They’re bright, cheerful and everywhere. You can get something as small as a spoon holder or as large as a serving platter. Also special are the onyx pieces, from figurines to chess sets.
Ceramics to liven up your home from Cozumel's Los Cinco Soles
Mopa Mopa art in Aruba. These don’t come cheap, but they’re unusual handicrafts native to Aruba. Buds of the mopa mopa tree are processed into resin that’s incorporated into wood and painted. You can find mopa mopa bookmarks, masks, wall hangings, and all sorts of decorative arts. You won’t find them anywhere else.

Anything painted in Labadee. The extensive artisan market in Royal Caribbean’s resort side of Haiti specializes in painted art, and the prices are very reasonable. And since the sellers promote bargaining, the prices get downright cheap. There’s a big variety of artwork—from magnets to mega canvases of beach scenes, with frames or without.

Color in canvas at Labadee, Haiti
St. Maarten guavaberry liqueur. It’s on the sweet side, but an only-in-St. Maarten kind of souvenir. Their colorful painted bottles alone make it worth the cost, even if what’s inside isn’t exactly your cup of—well, beverage of choice. 

Spices in Granada. The “Island of Spice” vendors have ready-to-go spice combo baskets that are tailor-made souvenirs. And if you feel yourself giving in to buying one of the spice necklaces the vendors assemble as you watch, beware that their shelf life is short—very short. By the end of the day, mine was beginning to self-destruct.
Necklaces of spice might be nice, but the baskets are much better
Rum from anywhere. I fell deeply in love with Bacardi’s 8 Anõs at its brewery in San Juan. But the Caribbean’s got more choices of rum than we have time to taste. Take some home and relive your cruise experience again and again, one happy shot at a time.

Musing’s Top Tip: If you’re thinking about a specialty dining package on an Oasis class cruise, check out Musing About Cruising’s new video on YouTube, with tips and photos, to help you decide if it’s right for you. And did you know you can now find out about new Musing postings by subscribing to Feedspot, which consolidates the latest from your favorite cruise blogs?