Okay this belongs in the Europe forum but nobody goes there and since I will be on a HAL ship I figured I would get away with this here.
We will be doing the Northern Europe Gems of the Baltic tour. Visiting Copenhagen, Stockholm, St Petersburg and Berlin to name a few. Since I have never traveled out of North America before, what do I do about paying for things. I know not all countries use Euros,,and even if they did where would I get them,,so tell me,,,,seasoned vetrans,,,what do I do?
HAL Volendam 2004
HAL Maasdam 2006
HAL Zuiderdam 2007
HAL Eurodam 2008
CCL Paradise upcoming 2010
When we cruised in Europe last year, we were able to get a fairly decent exchange rate at the purser's desk tor spending cash. Just go early, they did run out of currency at one point. We tried to use a credit card when we could to reduce the amount of foreign currency we needed.
You will actually get the best exchange rate with your ATM card; I usually stop at arriving airport to get my stash of cash. I got Danish Kroner at CPH upon arrival last year. For the other countries, I would just exchange on the ship as you will not be changing enough that it really matters. In that case, credit card will be a better option where taken. For getting Russian Rubles, apparently is not too difficult. ATMs in St Petersburg or in advance at your home bank or in one of your prior port visits. ***edited by moderator ***
Hi there. We traveled last summer to Europe and used our ATM card primarily as several well traveled friends had advised us. We will be traveling to Europe again this summer, part of which will be on a 24 day Holland cruise. We called our bank to check the exchange rate on ATMs vs Amex Platinum vs Amex Sky Miles Platinum, etc. Our bank (Wachovia) ATM charges the actual exchange rate + 2%. I'm not sure how that comps out to the exchange rate on board. Does anyone know? We were under the impression that the ATM withdrawals we had made were at the actual exchange rate. Anyway, check with your bank first as you might be surprised. Amex charges 2%. If ordering Euros through your bank on the front end, double check the exchange rate. Wachovia has a no fee policy but the exchange rate they give actually works out to a 5.4% upcharge. Yikes! Does anyone know the cheapest way to get Euros in advance? Thanks
If you have a Debit Card with the Maestro or Cirrus logo ATMs are you cheapest option for getting cash. You get the best rate but will have to pay for use of the machine. For purchases: use your credit card, its approx. the same rate and they don't charge you for using it.
When paying cash: Please note that a lot of stores do not accept 1 and 2 cents coins (and will round all totals up). Also bills over 50 euros are, dependant of the country, hardly accepted. Especially the Netherlands are very bad it that. It's that typical Dutch storeclerk attitude: You don't have to buy our stuff, you want it, you pay as we like.
To keep NL-bashing: Most stores do not accept credit cards at all.
PS I'm Dutch and it is always a treat to shop e.g. in the US.
February 2008: HAL Zuiderdam: Eastern Caribbean
November 2009: HAL Noordam: Caribbean Wayfarer
November 2010: Norwegian Jade: Western Mediterranean
January 2012: HAL Eurodam: Eastern Caribbean
May 2012 HAL: Noordam: Transatlantic Riviera
We did the Baltic cruise on the Veendam this past August (07) - and it was a great trip! It's true - the Euro is not the $ of choice with some nations - however, it is often accepted at most tourist stops. We solved the problem by letting our credit card company/bank know that we would be charging in various $. The exchange rates were so much better than what was offered on the ship, onshore ATM's, and the local Banks (trust us - we made that mistake in Italy, '06).
All stops, anywhere with our Baltic Sea Cruise, did take most Credit Cards. Hope this helps...
can only speak for ha. they offer local currency at each port. have forgotten if they charge a premium. personally i buy little as i prefer to use my credit card and not sure if they will buy it back, as i keep what i have. most everywhere acceps cc's. we personally stick to ha's land tours for convenience and safety, and our guides have always been quite knowledgeable and helpful. never had a problem. one other little tip: many cc's companies charge a 3% premium for international purchases, capital one does not although i am under the impression visa charges 1%.
one advantage, if you have a problem with a charge they will go to bat for you (had this experience in amsterdam) money refunded, no problem. i have always managed find a way to spend more than i had planned. lol happy sailing
We did the same cruise on the Veendam last August, and had the same concerns. Everyone takes credit cards - cab's, that little shop in Tallinn, the odd looking bar in Helsinki, the really good seafood joints in Warnemunde. etc.
We did purchase some "walking around" currency through the ship at various stops; however - the exchange rate is excessive, and they get you twice when you sell it back. On the other hand, my credit card company had just a fractional service charge, and used bank conversion rates.
The only things we needed hard currency for was an occasional bottle of water, and a slice of Pizza in Arhus (I had to try it - trust me, Danish Pizza really stinks!).
Hope this helps. We had a great time - and hope you enjoy also!
You got plenty of advise on most countries. However I did not see one for St. Petersburg. Most likely you will not travel on your own in Russia. (Cost of VISA etc. is prohibitive) Take a ship's excursion and where ever they take you to buy things, they all take US Dollars. We had no trouble with that last year on the Baltic Cruise. Almost all other countries take dollars or best of all VISA and MasterCard, NO Discover. Been there, done that.