Getting local currency on Northern Europe cruise?

Happy99

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 31, 2007
In Russia they are not supposed to accept U.S. Dollars. We had a private tour and there was an ATM in the port building across from the gift shop. In Oslo Norway there is a building right next to the port where you can purchase souvenirs and saw an ATM there as well. We didn't use it because other than Russia we used cards or had Euros. We travel to Europe every couple of years so for us having Euros or British pounds left over is not a big deal as we know we will use it again. We actually have given a friends daughter Euro's as a birthday gift when she turned 17 as she was going to Italy with school and figured she could buy herself something there. She loved the idea.
 
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smacmillan83

Earning My Ears
Joined
May 29, 2016
I would be hesitant to tip in USD. Bear in mind that exchanging money can cost depending on where you do this (Bank, currency exchange at an airport etc), there can also be a minimum amount you can exchange so it may not be so easy for the tour guide to do this (especially if tipped in smaller notes). Some countries happily accept USD, but this does not tend to be the case in Europe. It would be worth a search on the internet for tipping culture and preferred currency.
We recently traveled Asia (Vietnam and Cambodia), our research before hand made it clear that USD would be accepted in these countries. Even then, if the note was not crisp or had a tear, vendors refused to accept it as they would struggle to exchange/use it.
 

BingoJoe

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jun 20, 2018
You should also be able to get money at airports. TBH I wouldn't give US dollars , in the Caribbean it's different, their local currency is worth very little, so US dollars are welcome. In Europe, it's not like that. I would see it as an insult by arrogant Americans who can't be bothered using the local currency and assume everyone wants US dollars. That's not your intention, I know but that's how a European would feel.
Really this. Better not to tip than tip in dollars here in the UK at least. Although maybe it will give the person you are tipping a good laugh later.

You don’t actually need to tip a driver in the UK by the way.
 
  • clten

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 5, 2005
    I'll offer two suggestions that we have used. First if you don't bank somewhere that can exchange currency at a reasonable rate, there are services that will sell you foreign currency. We used Travellex when we did b2b Northern European/Norwegian Fjords cruises a couple of years ago. We were also going to be in several countries that all had their own currency and we wanted to have a small amount of money for tipping, emergency cab fare (always like to be prepared) and some small shopping we might do. They will buy back your unused currency but can't say how that would work as we've kept our extra knowing we'd probably head back within a few years.

    Second suggestion is Guest Services onboard. We've done this several times in Europe ports. Their exchange rate isn't the greatest but no worse than you'd find at an airport. The best part of this is that they will buy back your paper currency (they won't buy back coins) at the same exchange rates. So we have done this in ports where we just wanted to make sure we've had some local currency on us (in case something happened). If we didn't spend it, no loss, we got back everything with a quick trip back to Guest Services. (If you are cruising when the ship will be staying in those countries, we have done our "extra tips" to our dining team staff partially in local currencies - after speaking with them about it. It gives them some local spending money for meals or shopping without them having to exchange currency. We wouldn't do it without knowing if they needed it or if the ship was relocating shortly after our cruise - as our intention was to be helpful not burden them with currency exchange.)
     

    Karin1984

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 5, 2012
    I really do not get this discussion, because some US people are uncomfortable not to tip, and do not have the opportunity to get small amounts of local currency (which I understand), the advice is to give money in US dollars?

    Who are you helping with that? It is basically throwing away money, because if it is a small amount, it is not worth for the guide to pay the fee to exchange the money to their currency. You might feel good about yourself because you adhered to US culture in a foreign country, but as somebody else mentioned, the guide will probably shake his head and think 'silly Americans'.

    Also the reasoning 'dollars are fine because it is a DCL contractor', makes no sense. It is more likely that DCL pays the touring company the local currency. Ship is ship and shore is shore. Because soda is free on the ship, doesn't mean soda is free in port.

    If you really feel you HAVE to tip, regardless of local culture, cannot leave a tip electronically and you do not have the option to get the local currency, I would suggest to bring with you some of your own local candy or goodies for your guides and see it as a cultural exchange. They have explained you some things about their culture, return the favour.
     
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    StarSeven7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 13, 2017
    I’m American but I’ve lived in Canada for the past 14 years and I have to agree with those who say not to tip in U.S. dollars. When my family comes to visit me from the U.S. they often just bring US dollars to pay cash with in Canada. I guess they figure because I live in a border town that everyone should accept US dollars, and a lot of stores do (but at a terrible exchange rate) but it kind of drives me crazy as I would never try to pay with Canadian dollars in a US store! I guess think how you would feel if you were in a tipped position and someone tipped you in a foreign currency.
     

    BadPinkTink

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 13, 2015
    I guess think how you would feel if you were in a tipped position and someone tipped you in a foreign currency.
    Exactly, I doubt people trying to pay or tip with Canadian dollars or Mexican Pesos in America would be tolerated and people would be told this America, when you are in our country, use our currency not yours!
     
  • jenmiller114

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2011
    Wow! Thank you all for helping me to see the error of my ways. Next time I do not have money to thank someone for services rendered, I will just tell them that I chose not to tip them at all rather than offend them by giving them what I do have.

    I had no idea that I was being foolish for thinking that, since I didn't have a chance to stop at an ATM machine at the airport, get money and change that money for smaller bills simply so I can thank someone for a job well done when they would prefer nothing at all. If I can give them a good laugh at my expense, I suppose that's worth it.

    Do I expect someone to pay me in pesos if they come into my American business? No. But if I am in a customer service industry that works primarily with tourists and this is how they offer a gratuity, I can't imagine looking down on them. It's money I wouldn't have had otherwise. I am pretty sure I can make the effort to change it in. I get that American and European cultures are different. But I think it's crazy that we make people feel bad for wanting to do something nice and telling them not to bother.
     

    Marc D

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 27, 2016
    It’s one thing to do a land vacation for multiple days and expect them to accept foreign currency. Most comments on this thread are appropriate for that situation.

    It’s quite another to tip a guide or driver on the only day you’ll spend in that country. Those guides work all year round with U.S., Canadian, Australian... guests and fully understand you will not have their currency in your wallet. They know you just got off the ship when they take charge of you. While your 5$-10$ would be a hassle to change, once the hundred or so guests they meet for that week or month have come through, they end up with quite a bit of money.

    Also, while tipping is not culturally accurate in Europe, guides that work with American guests seem to have changed their ways and now often mention tipping once you approach the peer. Why pass up free money...
     

    ruadisneyfan2

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 20, 2006
    I never carry US dollars in the US or Canadian dollars when we go to Canada. I doubt if I would bother to get any local currency if I visited Europe. There is always the hassle of getting rid of it when you leave the country.
    Never had that problem! Each of our kids saved a 5 pound bill from the UK as a London souvenir. The rest we paid toward our hotel bill to reduce the amount billed to our cc.

    We are usually sensitive to each country recognizing their own currency. We will be arriving at Heathrow around 8 pm on a Saturday and getting picked up 8:30 am Sunday for the drive to the port so not a lot of free time. As I said, getting GBP will be easy but I'd have to see the exchange rate at the airport exchange places to see about getting some Danish & Norwegian cash. We'd probably only need around $50 or $60 worth. We're also bringing them some American candy. We love trying candy from other countries. I hope they like that too. Or they can always give it away. I know the crew members onboard love getting candy.

    Big banks in the US such as Chase, Bank of America will order foreign currency but you need an account with them.
     

    ruadisneyfan2

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 20, 2006
    In Russia they are not supposed to accept U.S. Dollars. We had a private tour and there was an ATM in the port building across from the gift shop. In Oslo Norway there is a building right next to the port where you can purchase souvenirs and saw an ATM there as well. We didn't use it because other than Russia we used cards or had Euros. We travel to Europe every couple of years so for us having Euros or British pounds left over is not a big deal as we know we will use it again. We actually have given a friends daughter Euro's as a birthday gift when she turned 17 as she was going to Italy with school and figured she could buy herself something there. She loved the idea.
    Norway doesn't use the Euro
     
  • ruadisneyfan2

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 20, 2006
    You may be able to change limited money at the desk on the ship, for a poor rate. For the little you need, it might be easier. You are right, that except for tips, you really don't need cash anywhere. Some Scandinavian countries are purposely going cashless, and we saw on restaurant on a trip that advertised "no cash, CC only." I do agree you're a better traveler if you can pay in local currency.
    Not sure if it's true but I read somewhere that the ship doesn't offer that. Sure would be nice if they did.
     

    ruadisneyfan2

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 20, 2006
    It's always easier to have EUROS with you before you get there - if you have a Chase Credit Card you can go to any Chase Bank branch and they will provide foreign currency exchange with no FEES and a great rate (the awesome thing is they will buy back any foreign currency bills (no coins) you have left over)
    We do have Chase cc. Euros are not used in UK, Norway or Denmark.
     

    ruadisneyfan2

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 20, 2006
    True, but when we did our Baltic cruise, a lot of the shops had prices in both the local currency and Euros or offered an exchange rate for Euros (not to your benefit but it's also a fairly common practice in Canada with cities near the US border and is convenient for people who don't visit often or who only spend a short period of time here). We only used cash for the very rare occasion in northern Europe - we nearly always used our credit card for purchases. It's also very easy for them to exchange Euros for local currency in much the same way as we exchange US dollars in Canada for Canadian dollars. It's a pretty routine transaction at the bank in both directions and the same is true in most of Europe.
    Everything is paid for and we will be using cc whenever possible but normally we would tip with cash. We have done European land and cruise trips but the cruise was a Med and used all Euros so it was easy. Before we embarked from Barcelona, I had tip envelopes made for each stop on the cruise.

    Normally, I would have booked this cruise like a year in advance and I would find out how to get local currency from a bank in the US. I love to do research for vacations!
    This was a last-minute booking. We fly a week from Saturday.

    I would think my small, local bank might offer Pounds or Euros but I'd be shocked if they said, "Sure we have some Danish Kroner right here!" (Probably the only thing Danish they'd have is some sticky buns in their employee lounge. lol)

    To add to our last minute stress, our 19 yr old hurt his back doing heavy lifting at work. Wrongly assuming 'he's young; he'll heal quickly' he waited a week to see the dr. Well, it's been 3 weeks and a round of steroids later and still no improvement.
    Finally got in to see an orthopedic dr and got started in PT yesterday and he is really improving but just was able to stand up straight today instead of bent forward and I can't see him doing the 4+ miles involved in our walking tour of Oslo, not to mention all the walking you do on the ship. I know that wicked sciatica pain all too well. I just ordered a small wheelchair but they're not accepted on any of the excursions that we have booked. DCL does offer excursions that will accommodate a collapsible wheelchair but they sound very boring, as in our huge bus will pass by that castle you'd like to see.
    So now at this late time, I'm re-reading all the excursion descriptions and comparing how much walking/standing they involve, and what else we can do in each city. I quickly booked a private guide for Oslo since that involved the most amount of walking and our driver has no problem storing the wheelchair as needed.

    I will call my bank tomorrow and see what they can do.
     

    aggiedog

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 13, 2012
    Two of our excursions were big bus tours with DCL. We did not tip. Two were private, and we paid, and tipped, in crisp American dollars as requested by the agency in SPB, and I honestly don't remember what my dh did in Tallinn. I'm sure he did tip her because he really likes tipping private guides. I'm guessing local currency from an ATM.

    Besides tipping, the only time I needed cash on our entire trip was a hotdog stand in Copenhagen, and a public restroom in Stockholm.
     

    starry_solo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 19, 2010
    There may be currency exchanges at your local mall (if it's a big one). I know the Ontario Mills one (in CA) has a currency exchange.

    I also ended up starting to bank at a large bank to do currency exchange. I don't really like them, but then I realized that it was also the bank of one of the stocks I own so it is useful. I have like 2 shares from a company I worked for 20 years ago that banks there and one of their dividend checks for 30-cents bounced at my local bank, for a cost of like $10+ for the bounce fee....yeah, no.

    Also, before I opened an account at the large bank, I was still able to do currency exchange without being an account holder. NO additional fees or anything, just show the driver's license.
     

    AngelDisney

    Dream a Disney Dream 0[;)
    Joined
    Mar 22, 2011
    Please confirm whether we can exchange local currency on the Disney Magic. It will be great if we can return the extra currencies on the ship afterwards.
     

    Happy99

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 31, 2007
    Please confirm whether we can exchange local currency on the Disney Magic. It will be great if we can return the extra currencies on the ship afterwards.
    Why not call DCL and ask. In 2012 we were able to exchange money onboard to Euros if we needed to. All ports visiting used Euros on this particular cruise. Not sure if anything has changed in 7 years but always best to ask the source as to the current rule.
     

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