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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Memories of the Caribbean for $5 or Less

Let’s face it; you can’t get much for $5 anymore. Or can you?

In looking over souvenirs I’ve collected from Caribbean cruises over the years, some of my most used, most prized, cost just a few bucks.

Once, I thought these kind of souvenirs were too touristy. But when I got older and wiser, it occurred to me they only look touristy while you’re there. Once you get home, no one else has them. They suddenly don’t seem touristy at all.

And I love them because they remind me of my good times at sea. So, if you’re looking for a memory or two from your next cruise without shelling out a lot, consider these:

Mini sacks for storing. We’ve picked them up in Aruba, Cozumel and Grand Cayman, but you’ll find them just about anywhere. They’re colorful, functional and fun. We use them for storing ear buds, extra batteries and loose change.

Ornaments for hanging. Christmas ornaments make great souvenirs. Some of them are so unique you may want them around all year round. Like the ceramic ones in all different shapes in Cozumel. The replica ruins from Costa Maya. The painted gourds in Bonaire. You can get ornaments for $5 or under, but if they’re more elaborate, they’re also more expensive.

Marking your spot. If you’re like me and still read a book made out of paper, check out the bookmarks. I’ve picked up great handmade ones from Labadee (in the artisan market in the building—they’re at the cashier counter), Bonaire and the Panama cruise terminal.

Encasing your glasses. One of my favorite souvenirs is a colorful heavy fabric eyeglass case that I bought in the Panama cruise terminal. You’ll never misplace your glasses with this one.

Magnets for clinging. Turn your fridge into a scrapbook. You can get a magnet for $1—or for $15. They come in all sizes and shapes—many are amazingly different. I have handmade doll magnets from Nassau and Barbados, mini magnetic paintings from Labadee, faux mini delft “wooden” shoes from Aruba, a ceramic magnet of the Puerto Rican flag from San Juan and many more.

Caps for keeping the sun out. Show off when you get home with a baseball cap like these from Aruba. (For more on baseball caps as status symbols—see the July 27 Wall Street Journal!)

Lots in Labadee. Five bucks go pretty far in the artisan market in Royal Caribbean’s private part of Haiti—especially if you’re willing to haggle. There are painted boxes and other wooden objects, carved stones, macramé bracelets, magnets, small paintings, among others.

Maracas and more. Cozumel is a great place to cheap-souvenir shop. Besides maracas, there are sombreros, ceramics and a ton of other trinkets to remind you of your cruise South of the Border.

One of the great things about this kind of shopping is you can really load up—and still have something left over for a deposit on your next cruise.

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