If it;s similar to the excusrions on the other side of the island, there's some good duty-free jewelry and watch shopping to be had, and it's a good way to increase your Bob shirt count. You HAVE started your Bob shirt collection, right? :-p
No. There are certain days that vendors will be along the beach path at CSA and they offer what you would find at the market which the shopping excursion takes you to. Also, the vendors at CSA aren't as persistant as the market vendors. When you step onto the beach at CSA, go to the left and walk along the shore you'll also come across a number of vendors.
Just did the shopping trip a few weeks ago and it basically takes you to two strip malls that have the same kind of shops filled with touristy items. There are a few nicer jewelry shops at the first mall. We were disappointed in the trip, thinking we would find handmade crafts of which there were only a few.
That said, if you are planning to buy lots of gifts or need sunscreen, etc., , you might save some money going on the trip. We bought some coffee for half the price it was being sold for in the resort gift shop. Not sure how everything else compares.
Would I go again? Probably not, although it was interesting to see downtown Negril.
We were just at CSA end of September/beginning of October and went on the shopping trip for the first time. If you go in knowing that you are going to make 2 stops at what I would call strip malls with pretty much the same items in each store then you will be ok. I think that we were expecting a more "authentic" Jamaican Market type experience, maybe along the lines of what you would see in Rosarito or something, so we were a little let down.
That said, we did pick up a few items, some of which could be found on the beach at the same price or cheaper and DEFINITELY cheaper than what you could get in the resort. I don't think that we would ever consider going again, but the good news is that it is only a 2 hour jaunt so it's not like you are wasting a ton of time if you don't enjoy it.
We just went on the 14th and the excursion makes two stops. The first is a little upscale strip mall that's got all sorts of goodies and the second is in town. Hubby and I didn't buy much at the second location but sat instead on the concrete walls watching the locals and soaking everything up. If it's your first trip I would say go, if not, I'd say skip it and shop at the hotel and the local vendors.
The first stop at Times Square Mall is worth it. The are upscale shops there. The other stop in town I don't care for. You can get the same stuff on the beach. I would take the free tour and go to Times Square, but call a cab to go back to CSA as to avoid the shops in town.