How much to budget is a very personal thing. No real answer. It really depends on how much you like to gamble, what things u want to shop for, and how many meals and drinks you're planning for in ports of call. And don't forget the money for tips for the staff!!!
As for the question of cash- or traveller's checks-- It doesn't matter. Travellers checks are the same as carrying cash, in that they are easily cashed onboard, either at the casino cashier, or the purser's desk.
If carrying the checks makes you feel more secure, that's the way to go.
The night before a port of call, do be sure to have lots of small bills to take ashore with you. In many spots if u use larger bills, u get the change back in local currencies.
Something that we always do is figure exactly what the tips should be and put that cash away in a seperate envelope so no rushing around trying to get it all together and expecially don't spend it :-) I usually take some travelers checks too, just for the extra security. Your cruise is comming up real fast, have a great time and tell us all about it when you return :-)
Thnaks for the advise. Going to the bank this am.
I will try to take some notes each day during the trip. I have not seen a recent review on any Princess Cruise so maybe I can pretend I am a reporter doing research? I will try to be objective but have to tell you since this is our first cruise and our first real vacation in....5 years I may not be able to contain myself.
>> 1. I generally don't take any more than $100 or so ashore. If you want to make a significant purchase, a credit (NOT debit!) card offers the advantage of protection through your credit card company. Also, credit cards are accepted pretty universally.
>> 2. If you do underbudget, you can cash personal checks (within certain limts) at the Purser's Desk. Additionally, if you are really in a pinch, you can buy casino chips on your on-board account (with a 3% surcharge) and cash them in.
>> 3. Princess now offers an alternative to cash tipping. You can get vouchers for tips for any amount, which is billed to your onboard account. You simply put the voucher in the tip envelope instead of cash and give it to the recipient. Aboard MV Sun Princess last week, the Princess Patter said that the vouchers were available at any bar on the ship.
You can also tip with personal checks onboard Princess. You make the check out to Princess cruises and hand it to the employee you are giving the tip to. He takes it to the purser's desk and the cruiseline acts as a bank. I don't like vouchers. They are non refundable. I've never encountered a bad enployee on Princess, but if you did, you'd either need to give him the full amount of the voucher or lose it.
You forgot a third alternative -- ATMs. They are located everywhere, on every island on earth (I found them in the Galapagos!). There's a standard charge for using them, but I don't recall them begin higher than I pay in New York.
I take some cash ... and get more as I need it in port.