Money matters can be confusing when traveling but maybe this article will help you out.
We always take lots of single and five dollar bills with us on every cruise. They come in handy for taxis, tips for tour guides, tips for the staff, and little souvenirs at craft shops. They are handy if you run across a bartender on the ship that is really treating you well.
Europe has now changed to the Euro in many countries making it easier to travel from country to country. The countries that are now using that currency are: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, The Vatican, Martinique, Guadalupe, Montenegro, and Kosovo.
Thanks to the miracle of the ATM machine, it is now easier that ever to get money in foreign countries. Use your ATM card in the machine to get the appropriate amount of money for the days you will be in each country. This eliminates carrying lots of Traveler’s Checks but take a few in case of emergencies. Never carry big wads of money no matter where you travel. It makes you an instant target.
Always keep in mind that you will be unable to reconvert coins so spend them liberally. It will be necessary to know the exchange rate so you can figure out how much you will need. If you are doing a cruise in the British Isles you may make three stops in Ireland so plan for three days of the local currency if you don’t want to keep finding an ATM machine.
If you are cruising around the Caribbean, every merchant takes dollars and credit cards, I recommend using Credit Cards. If you don’t use the above suggestion about using the ATM’s the ship will provide a service to change dollars into Euros or any other currency necessary. You should have some of the local money for buying small items such as soft drinks or a snacks, tips or local craft items. Any other purchases should be charged to your credit card because this protects you if there is something wrong with the item or it is not what it is purported to be.
The very best way to find out where the good shopping is, ask the crew. Some of the shops actually “sponsor” the cruise lines shopping lectures. The cruise lines will receive a commission from the stores they recommend. It’s a great big commercial to a captured audience, but if there is a problem the cruise lines will stick to their policy and get you a refund. So it’s a matter of comfort level, go on your own if you think you are savvy enough or go with the cruise lines recommendation to be safe.
The days at sea the cruise the ship’s boutiques will have “sales” so wait until then to see if what you want has been reduced.
If you know what you want to buy when you are cruising, check out the costs at home before you go, including the discount stores. Sometimes you can get a better deal at home with the comfort of knowing it’s returnable if it is defective.
If you buy perfume open the sealed box before you leave port to make sure the perfume has not evaporated. At one of the islands we visited I purchased some perfume and just out of curiosity opened it when we returned to the ship. The seal was still it tact but the bottle was three quarters empty. Since we were still in port I was able to return it to the store for another bottle.
I’d like to add just a word on traveling to different ports everyday and credit cards. When we were traveling in Europe I purchased several things in different ports on different days. By the third day the credit card company would no longer honor my card because they were suspicious of theft. For that reason, I always carry two credit cards and make sure both companies know I will be traveling extensively. This is a very good tip to know.
Follow this money and shopping advice and you should get along fine no matter which country you visit. Happy Cruising.