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

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