Coping: Duty-Free Economics

image(Somewhere off Jamaica)  Seems like readers are about equally sick of a) my vacation pictures and b) my flying stories.  So this morning we will stick with the tourism stuff.  

We arrived in Caymanian waters Wednesday about 10 AM and dropped the hook at 10:30.

The wait for our tender assignment to be ferried to shore took almost an hour, but a nap seemed like a good thing.  But, as pappy used to advise:  When in doubt, nap.

50-years ago I thought that was a crazy idea, but here on the far side of 60, that seems to be downright prudent advice.

The tents in  the picture are along Church Street which is in downtown George Town, Grad Cayman.  Hasn’t changed too much since I lived on the island back in 1983-1985.  Population is over 20,000 now and over 18,000 banks, last I bothered to check..

Under the tents was an assortment of fresh-caught fish.  And that put me in the mood to try fresh caught local snapper when we got to the restaurant another block up the beach toward Seven Mile Beach.

Mistake.

While Robin & Judy ate sensibly, with Elaine going for a chicken wrap or some-such, I went for the “Fresh Snapper.”

When it came out as a whole fish, that is, head and tail and such still on, I was more than slightly disappointed.  After forking around with it (snapper has plenty of bones) I asked for the kids & seniors fish and chips which was quite good.

One the way back to the boats (to take us to the ship) the ladies stopped at the “duty free” along the way and I did what tourists do:  I considered spending money.

Not for long, however.

I looked at a bottle of Angel (for Men) Eau de Toilette smelly-stuff and then I looked at the price:  CI$80.

CI$ (or Cayman Island Dollars) are one of the ways the country makes money.  You see, it takes $125 to  to buy CI$100 Caymanian.

Or, going the other way, US$100 gets you CI$80.

So this Angel (for Men) sniff & smell was a hundred dollar bill.  But that is before the credit card monsters step in for their vig, which tacks on another couple of percent.

I put the bottle back on the shelf and decided to check the price on Amazon, which is right there with US scratch & sniff retailers like Drug Emporium, and others, where you can get good deals if you just keep your eyes open.

Since I didn’t actually buy it, and don’t know how my credit card would handle the ankle-grab on currency exchange, I  was guessing that the total after conversion and gestation in the belly of the Money Beast would be about US$105.

The next stop?  Well, off to Amazon.

Angel By Thierry Mugler For Men. Eau De Toilette Spray Rubber Bottle 3.4 OZ was less than $50-bucks, but it wasn’t showing as prime until I logged into my Amazon Prime account where upon the it was still a penny under $50-bucks and that meant the only item left would be our state sales tax

Long and short of it is that the sales you find at many duty-free shops aren’t so great after all.

Next time you go on a cruise, be very careful to log into your Amazon account as a reality check on pricing.

I haven’t run down every product for sale, but I know Elaine’s Scotch (Glen Fiddich 12) can be had on sale locally in Texas cheaper than we could buy ashore *(duty-free) and then wait in line to pay the Texas State vig on boozahol, and I figure our time is worth something.

To be sure, it’s somewhat reassuring for the ladies to actually sniff the different odors and such, but once you’ve been shopping for sniffs a half-century, or so, the ladies already know the answer to this stuff.  After age 50, preferences are fairly well set for many.

It really becomes a kind of therapy, and I’m good with that.  Except my $30 local snapper bone-picking deal wasn’t my idea of how to spend vacation time. 

People go on cruises to be waited on hand and foot.

And speaking of which:  The hair “touch up” that Elaine had done for about $80-bucks back home was $306.13 on the cruise ship.  Although they also ironed her hair so now, it is still taking me a moment to recognize her.

By the time the anti-curly (ironing) job wears off, we should be back on shore.  But I’m developing a rule of thumb that says the price of the cruise tickets is only about 50% of the cost of the trip. 

With enough shopping and grooming, it’s easy to run that down to where the cost of the cruise is only 33% of the total cost and even beyond.

In a moment of amazing clarity, cruising comes down to something like this:

Would you pay a lot of hard-earned money to go to a place where the view changes, sniff stuff is 50%  more than at home, hair pampering is 60-70% more, and the vacuum toilet isn’t as efficient (or comfortable) as the one back home?

Where is a two block walk to coffee instead of 10 steps to the kitchen?

On the economics of it (value propositions and so forth) I’m guessing no, you would not.

But, as I have told you before, while the marriage license is still one of the best bargains out there, cruises and entertainment come with it and they are like either Homeowner Association dues or ongoing support charges.

They do add up over time.

Not that I’m complaining (as the proud co-owner of the unlimited beverage package) but people who have never been on a cruise before would do well to do a little research and remember the art of wallet-sitting (as in ‘sit on your wallet’) is a skill that takes a lifetime to develop.

Bottom Line:  The words Duty-Free  and lugging bottles of booze around has nothing to do with value for money spent.

Exception

Whisky Aged on Space Station Returns to Earth With ‘New Flavors’.

Today Jamaica, tomorrow and Saturday  we’ll be on our way back to reality.

Write when you break-even,

George and Elaine at sea…bounding bounding over that whatever arghhh.      george@ure.net

Comments

Coping: Duty-Free Economics — 8 Comments

  1. Well, I do it different. Learned the hard what that having a woman in your life = no fun, lots of problems. Took me three tries. So when and if I go on a trip it is by myself. Lots more fun. Lots less expense too.

    Actually I prefer staying home and twiddling the knobs on my ICOM transceiver. When that gets old I go for a bike ride. We have nice weather for that, today was 60 degrees and sunshine all the way to the ground. No need to go anywhere when you live in paradise.

    In the 70’s a reporter from the L A Times wrote a long photo illustrated Sunday Edition article about our little village. First line was, “I think I’ve found Brigadoon”. He was right.

    I do enjoy reading your adventures Geo. Keep it up.
    73
    bill

  2. You haven’t mentioned anything about the ship photographers or photographs…they snap you every which way…

    When we went in November of 2004…Pappy 74, Sister 35, Niece 3, me 44….it was fun keeping up with the little one and slowing just a bit down for the older one… and we have the photographs to prove it…and now they are really treasured as they came out very good….

    We enjoyed all of it…took Pappy on a ride out to an island off of Belize….they really pushed the rummmmmm…and we snorkeled….he kept floating up….later we would find out why he couldn’t sink a little…too much fluid build up…but he had a GREAT time and we met some wonderful people who we are still in touch with.

    I am hoping you all remember the good things and enjoy this time together….and spoil yourselves a bit, which might mean getting off of that wallet!

  3. I’m looking forward to your observations regarding Jamaica, George. I lived in Kingston for a year in 1985 and Montego Bay for the year 1986. I used to “blend in” with the tourists who went to the hotels when they got off the boats, just to be around some of my countrymen.

    It was interesting to me that the Jamaicans seemed to have
    no sense of solidarity with American blacks. For the most part, they considered them to be stupid ingrates who didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that they share as Americans. Behind their backs, the Jamaicans called them “groupers.” We are not the only ones guilty of stereotyping.

    I would say the the most interesting group of people were the Rastafarians. I hope they are doing well. And, have one of those “pasties” for me. And some jerked pork. Yum.

  4. Hi George,

    I really do enjoy your flying escapades, and the posted pictures. They remind me to get going back to hacking holes in the sky! The cruise stories are interesting too, if only because I’ve never been on one as an adult. I can’t really see any point in doing so as a single person alone. Can you? It just seems like a reminder of being alone.

    BTW, If Elaine’s up to it, I’m sure we’d all appreciate pictures of her with straight hair! Maybe some of both of you, and maybe your group. Thanks for the comments on cruise scams – if I ever do the cruise thing.

  5. In a lot of the fringe books about ancient history man was created in the likeness of off worlders (annunakis) to work the S. African mines. There were many failures and do overs until he found the perfect adem aka adam by using a mix of their DNA w/ a local ape like creature. So as stated in the bible ‘man’ was made in the image of and to serve the ‘gods’.

    If you haven’t read some of his works it’s worth a few hours. All of history clicks into place. I treated it like a sci-fi series.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zecharia_Sitchin
    “Sitchin wrote that Enki suggested that to relieve the Anunnaki, who had mutinied over their dissatisfaction with their working conditions, that primitive workers (Homo sapiens) be created by genetic engineering as slaves to replace them in the gold mines by crossing extraterrestrial genes with those of Homo erectus.[6][7] According to Sitchin, ancient inscriptions report that the human civilization in Sumer, Mesopotamia, was set up under the guidance of these “gods”, and human kingship was inaugurated to provide intermediaries between mankind and the Anunnaki (creating the “divine right of kings” doctrine). Sitchin believes that fallout from nuclear weapons, used during a war between factions of the extraterrestrials, is the “evil wind” described in the Lament for Ur that destroyed Ur around 2000 BC. Sitchin states the exact year is 2024 BC.[8] Sitchin says that his research coincides with many biblical texts, and that biblical texts come originally from Sumerian writings.”

  6. Keep in mind that more than 80% of the profits on smartphones and tablets goes into the coffers of Apple computer. The profits (70% of revenue) Apple pays out to software developers through their App Store exceeds the profits of the rest of the (handheld) profits combined. It is reported that there are 400,000 people employed worldwide providing this software. The average Apple handheld user has 119 applications. So seeing what Apple has as “just a tablet” is missing the entire point of ownership. Every Apple handheld is a unique experience tailored to each user. But you gotta have one to realize this.

    And Apple is the only provider that has been sued by the justice department to furnish the keys to their encryption. Microsoft has been a token supporter of opposition to that lawsuit, bless their unprofitable, monopolistic, in bed with the NSA, hearts. Using Apple products is the difference between a BMW and A Chevy. A BMW is just an overpriced car until you drive one. Go drive a new Lexus and you will know what I mean. It will trigger a litany of excuses why you don’t want a car of that quality, because most Americans today confuse quality with luxury, which it is for the 97 million not in the workforce and the 50 million underemployed.

    Microsoft is actually hiding the statistics of Windows 10 adoption, 75 million last I saw. This includes the 12 million copies sold to developers who were required to purchase two copies each before the official release date. When Apples announces the next release of OS X, they will exceed Microsofts numbers IN ONE WEEK.

    And as for Android, as Tim Cook said a while back, it is a hell stew of malware and security breaches.

    You are aging well George. Your travelogue is a litany of complaining and bargain hunting. The second and third world has learned well from America. There are no bargains in tourist areas anywhere in the world. Ask any foreigner that has been to Disney World. For some reason you think that they should be able to run a billion dollar cruise ship as cheaply as you can live at home hunting bargains. You are not who they market to. And neither does Apple.

    I just had a nice meal at my favorite Ecuadorian restaurant. A nice piece of Corvina, two veggies and yucca. $3.

    With Alexa, you are just realizing the usefulness of what Apple brought to market 4 years ago. You didn’t notice that Amazon is losing money on every Alexa and Kindle they sell. Just check on the amount of Amazon Electronics available as refurbs (returns) and on Ebay for fire sale prices. There is a purpose in keeping the price of personal electronics low. Most people just toss them in the trash, so embarrassed that they were sucked in to buying a piece of crap, that they don’t even complain about it. My wife uses an iPhone 5 generations old. She loves it. Our iPhones were free, the cost covered by selling off 11 devices that we no longer need.

  7. George, the snake charming act of the FUDD or fed as they like to be called is fading.
    They can no longer swing the markets due to the implosion of the chinese economy,
    Even the semi-illiterate can understand that the crash of the chinese economy is and will continue to unwind all markets starting with the emerging markets and working up to the already decaying EU and Ussa markets.
    Don’t fight the Fed will be on the financial systems tombstone.

  8. George, as my old papa used to say you cant take it with ya. You old stick in the mud. Remember, the old adage,if momma ain’t happy nobody’s happy. I thought you had a movie star wife.spend the money TA. And stop complaining.