Ship shape shopping ashore.

Have you ever wondered why in hundreds of ports around the world the locals set up shops, markets and bazaars right on the pier? They sell essentially the same things you will get in town, but for a little higher price. They do it because they are counting on two major influences in the retail world; the impulse buy and convenience shopping.

A great example of this is St. Thomas. You all know what that is like, Havensite mall right there beside the ship, convenience shopping at its best. A huge complex selling everything you can imagine (and good Chinese food to). Crew LOVE it, even if we don't want to buy we go look. But we DO buy.

Crew like it when you go to a port and find there is a mall, or market or ANYTHING right on the pier. We love to shop, and even if they are not selling what we want we will STILL go shop. If they ARE selling what we want then look out, you will have lines of crew. We like pier shopping as a little “break” as well, often times we will just “pop ashore” onto the pier to look around, buy a trinket and enjoy a change of pace.

When we DO get time off we don’t get a lot of it; maybe 2 or 3 hours at most in a port. If we want to go and shop, we want to shop. Not spend all our time looking for a store that’s open, that sells what we want, and then have to deal with slow customer service and formalities. We are a harsh bunch, ignore the pleasantries, ignore the fancy store, we just want product and lots of it made immediately available for our browsing pleasure and if it’s brought TO US at the ship, even better. We will buy from you.

Obviously the cruise lines try and help the passengers with their shopping. As you know we have shopping advisors onboard the ships that will direct you to the guaranteed places and best priced stores. These used to be called “port lecturers” but the format has changed and now we have only shopping advisors. After all a port lecturer is really not required because we do have experts on every port right at the Shore Excursions desk and they can tell you anything you need to know, even if you DON’T buy a tour ;0). I know that the onboard shopping advisors can seem a little pushy and sometimes a little to slick… but they really do try and help you. The stores they recommend really are guaranteed and the prices are the best you will get. I know because the crew uses them as well. We are always asking them about prices and best stores when we want to buy diamonds or electronics. Most of them are jewelry experts and I think they are of the most value to you (or us) when it is jewelry that you want to purchase. But they are knowledgeable in other things as well and can always help out at least a little.

I know that sometimes the presentations given by the onboard shopping advisors can seem confusing and high pressure, but they are trying to pack so much information into a small time slot that they really need to cover ground as quickly as possible. If you just can NOT stand the presentations but are considering a purchase of something, it would be worth your while to go see them during their desk hours, or leave a message at the purser’s desk for them. I have seen passengers buy expensive jewelry only to find out it was fake, or misrepresented by the salesman and when they tried to complain to the onboard shopping advisor there was nothing that could be done because they didn’t go to a Princess guaranteed store. I know, I know what you’re thinking... “that sounds like a sell” but it’s true. Trust me, buyers beware!

When I think about shopping and cruise ships, there is one thing I know for certain; if I had any spare cash at all, I would set up a business that catered to the needs and desires of crew members. I promise you, show up on the pier, or as close as you can get to the ship, with the things we want and you will make sales. We don’t care if you’re selling from the side of a van, to us it’s about convenience and price and that’s it.

Take my advice, any entrepreneurs out there with a little start up cash. Show up at a ship selling what we buy from the trunk of your car, a table or a blanket on the concrete and we will buy. Show up with a CATALOUGUE and take orders that will be delivered the next time the ship is in port and your going to make sales.

Interested to know what it is we buy? I’ll tell you.

Men and women’s white shoes; do you know how hard it is for us to find the time to go browse shoe stores looking for the right kind of white shoes? Forget about it.

Electronics; specifically cell phones (top of the line quad and tri band only. We are techno freaks onboard), Stereos, televisions, IPOD, portable DVD players, PSP and etc.

Luggage; A crewmember at the end of a contract always needs a new suitcase.

Philippines food and POT NOODLE!; We love Pot noodle. Bring cases of it and I promise you we will walk of the ship buy 2 or 3 cases and walk back on all in 2 minutes. We LIVE on pot noodles. Remember 60% of crew is from Philippines.

Subway and Domino’s pizza!; Have you ever done Panama Canal on Coral Princess? Remember the big pier in Cristobal where the little mall and market is where all the locals sell? Did you see the little Domino’s Pizza booth? Did you see the line up of crew? That is our favorite 4 hours stop over. Domino’s pizza and a cold beer, nothing could be better after work than that.

DVD’s and music CD’s; We love movies! Better yet do a movie rental service. Bring the movies and let us rent them for a cruise until next time the ship is in that port. But think of some other guarantee than a credit card because 60% of the crew will not have one to leave you. We deal mostly in cash. Cash deposit works best with crew.

I went shopping myself today in Sydney, and so shopping was on my brain so I thought I would blog about it. What did I buy? Toys for the kids, stuffed animals for the kids, cloths for the kids... the usual.

Now if only someone would come to the pier and help with box shipping for me… We were in on a Sunday and the port agent refused to take my box and mail it for me on Monday! So now I have to wait another ten days JUST to get my box to the post office! Hmmm... sounds like another business idea to me. Pier Shipping!

5 Responses
  1. Nurse Betty Says:

    From a female's point of view: (1) pantyhose and (2) hair color. Do you have ANY IDEA how hard it is for a 5'9" blonde woman to find either in Asia?

  2. Ebby Says:

    This was a great post today. I wonder though, do you have room to store items you buy in your cabin or is there a place for you to put them? Since you couldn't get your items shipped out the day you bought them. Good topic!!

  3. Cruise Lover Says:

    Just discovered your blog! Love reading all the behind the scenes scoop! Very interesting indeed!

  4. lizsfsd Says:

    Just love reading your blog. haven't sailed princess yet been on NCL and HAL Have first Princess booked Oct 14.

  5. mangowife Says:

    I love hearing a guy talk about shopping! =) Seriously, I really like your business ideas to cater to crew... I'll have to do a little thinking... hmmm...

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