While you are onboard, you will use your sign/sail card for all purchases and all those charges will go on the credit card you give them when you first get on the ship. At the end of the cruise, those charges will just go on that card. Yes, most ports will take major credit cards, but be careful and check what they charge you, make sure it is the amount you agree on. Every now and then we hear where the amount actually charged to your card, is different than you expected...If small purchases, use cash when ever possible, and try not to use a debt card...
Before leaving home, I like to get around 20 singles and some 5's to take for tips along the way, taxi drivers, shore excursion operators, etc. Good idea to hand over a few when getting to the pier and handing over your luggage, a good idea to tip a few dollars to those people.
Other then small vendors in ports, if you are making a larger purchase,and are willing to pay cash, many times, once you negotiate the best price, asking if they can do better if you pay cash, will get you a bit more off the bottom line. This way, the store is not paying the % to the credi card company.
Trip, with her book & tea!
Chat Hostess & Board Moderator
Onboard ship - you want to give them a credit card at the start of the cruise to cover all of your onboard expenses. Do NOT use a debit card because they will usually put about a $500 "hold" on funds in your acct on the first day, and that can affect how much money you have to spend on the cruise.
In the Caribbean you can use dollars almost everywhere (or credit cards). Sometimes vendors prefer cash dollars over credit cards if there is a large fee, but usually it makes no difference. You get more protection making purchases with credit cards.
In Europe - you can always use your ATM card to get local currency in any country from an ATM. Yes, they take almost any US bank's debit card (they are all on the same "Star" or "Cirrus" banking networks) The surcharge is not too bad (better than a currency exchange storefront).
In mexico - most vendors will take dollars or credit cards.
In Canada - generally they prefer that you go to the bank and get Canadian Dollars, or you can use credit cards.