We are taking a Northern European cruise which means we go to nations that don't use the Euro. Each have their own currency. How do we deal with that? Will the ship exchange money for all these ports? I can't just use VISA all the time.
First, you will find ATM machines everywhere that will dispense the local currency, so you'll be able to get cash whenever you need it. Make sure your cash is in your checking account and not your savings account as they don't give you the choice like they do here in the USA.
Second, if you're going into a port where you think you might want to spend some extra money, you can always get some ahead of time through your bank. Usually, this is at a much better rate than those kiosks at the airports!
Third, we always use the ATM's to get some cash, but anything costing more than say $50, we'll use our credit card. Don't use your debit card because that does not have the protection as your credit card company will afford you.
And lastly, make sure to check all your receipts carefully before signing them and keep all your receipts.
But we were always amazed at how many places, especially those near the cruise ports, readily accepted our good old yankee greenbacks. We weren't quite ready for that, especially since they were giving us very good exchange rates.
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Do not use bank in USA to get foreign currency, unless you like wasting money.
Like cruise planner stated, use ATMs when you arrive. Also, know that most non-Euro countries will take Euros so I would plan on that as your currency of choice. Also, if you have a credit card without foreign exchange charges, that is a good option; probably easier with a credit card with embedded chip.
If you are spending a couple days in Copenhagen or Stockholm pre or post cruise, worth while to get Danish or Swedish Kronor on arrival; just use ATM at airport. In Copenhagen, there are ATM machines either in baggage claim or just outside (airport memories get confusing).
On our Baltic cruise last summer, I went to AAA and got a little bit of currency for each country that we were visiting, maybe $30 - $50 worth for each of the eight we visited. This was all I needed to pick up a Christmas ornament, stickers and/or postcards or other little items. Anything over $20, we used our credit card unless we were close to the ship and still had too much cash. Anything left over was kept for scrapbooking or memory box :>). I was able to get the amounts down to a couple of coins in each country!
I echo Marc and Cruise Planner. Use an ATM to obtain currency. Depending on your bank, any fees will be less than what you would have to pay if you obtained foreign currency at your bank, AAA or airport currency exchange. It is also far less hassle. ATM machines are plentiful in Europe (Sweden, Finland and even Russia.
Use your Visa card as much as possible and only take out the amount of cash from an ATM that you think you need.
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With AAA membership, foreign currency exchange fees are not charged. However, I do think the exchange rate is not the most beneficial. It does save us the hassle of using an ATM (not something I use!).