by Linda Coffman
good old "Yankee Dollars"... so widely accepted that they are
all you need in your wallet when sailing to the Bahamas, Bermuda, and
Caribbean ports, including most destinations in Mexico. While
cruising abroad, though, don't fail to pack some currency savvy
along with your passport, guidebooks, and sensible walking
When in Europe, you pay with the Euro in
European Union (EU) countries and local currency in others. Period!
Well, there is American Express, MasterCard, and VISA—all
widely accepted, both by merchants and at ATMs, but you still need
to know how many Euro (or Pounds or Lira) translate into a dollar.
Nothing ruins vacation memories like opening your credit card
statement and discovering that the smart leather handbag you bought
for $30 really set you back $300.
Penny- AND Pound-wise
One of the first stops to make when
your plane lands is an airport currency booth or ATM. If you are on
your own, you'll need taxi fare to get to the port or your hotel.
Note the current exchange rate posted while you're waiting for your
luggage and jot it down in the small notepad you remembered
to slip in your tote bag. Knowing at least the approximate
conversion rate ahead of time can be a lifesaver at ATMs. You'll
want to know whether withdrawing 150 or 300 Euro will yield the
equivalent of approximately $10 or nearly $300. Congratulate
yourself for being so prepared!
Hint: When changing dollars
to local currency at foreign banks while in ports of call,
identification is often required. If the ship's purser is holding
your passport, carry a copy of it ashore, along with your driver's
license or other form of ID.
The EURO made simple
Calling on a
half dozen ports, all with different and confusing bills and coins,
can be a challenge for American and European cruisers alike. The
convenience of the Euro has simplified things since its
introduction, but not all countries have adopted it. Those using the
Euro are Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece,
Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.
Euro notes in denominations €5, €10, €20,
€50, €100, €200, and €500 are identical throughout EU
countries and can be used anywhere within the EU area, regardless of
where they were issued. To facilitate recognition, the notes differ
in size and color by denomination with the values printed in large
figures. Pictured on the front of Euro notes are windows and
gateways that symbolize a spirit of openness. The back of each note
features a bridge, which represents co-operation and communication
between Europe and the rest of the world.
Like the US dollar, one euro is divided into 100 cents. Eight
denominations of coins vary in size, color, and thickness according
to their value. They are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents or €1 and
€2. One side of each coin depicts one of three map designs common
to all Euro countries. The other side of each coin features
individual designs relating to the member country where it was
issued. Like Euro notes, Euro coins can be used anywhere in the Euro
area, regardless of their nation of origin.
desks will change dollars to local currency, both pre- and
post-cruise. But buyer beware—the rates may not be the most
favorable. It's better to visit a currency exchange or a bank that
accepts your ATM card as they will yield the best exchange.
Mediterranean, strangely there are usually no Maltese Lira available
on most ships; however, the Maltese usually accept American dollars
without hesitation. On the other hand, Croatian currency is also
seldom available on board, yet dollars are not as widely accepted
ashore. Local customs vary and you might find merchants in Turkey
anxious to conduct commerce in dollars, while a Norwegian coffee
shop would rather process a credit card transaction for a purchase
as small as two lattes than accept US dollars. For large purchases,
a credit card is safe and usually yields the best exchange rate.
tiny pocket calculator is invaluable for currency conversion
cruise ships that cater primarily to American passengers, US dollars
rule the waves. All charges on board are handled as if you'd never
left home. Before arrival in foreign ports, the Purser will often
set up a Currency Desk and cheerfully change American dollars into
local funds. If you don't use it all, simply change the paper money
back to dollars or the currency of your next port. You might not get
the best rate available, or pay a small service fee, but factor in
the convenience and it's often a simple trade-off.
Only paper money is generally accepted for exchange on most ships.
Yes, Canada is a foreign country
Now, take a look at our
northern neighbors. Don't forget, Canada is a foreign country.
Americans need proper citizenship identification when entering and
leaving Canada and Canadian money. Oh sure, there are places
where American dollars are acceptable, but your change will likely
be in Canadian currency. Don't be upset and don't argue about it. As
a tourist, you are a guest in their country. Besides, Canadian
"Loonies" are pretty!
A final hint... shipboard
stewards will often be revisiting the intriguing ports of call you
just explored on your cruise. Adding a "bonus" of leftover
foreign currency to their gratuity envelopes is a nice gesture.
Courtesy of CruiseDiva.com...
what a dollar is really worth in foreign currency before you leave
home with a free "Cheat Sheet" for your wallet. From
OANDA, the web's premier site for currency conversion, get yours HERE.
For advance preparation, also purchase foreign
currency online from OANDA,
a service of Thomas Cook Currency Services.
for a passport -- Don't wait until the last minute,
here's how to apply for your US passport.