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Joyfantastic

Baltic Cruise - Currency Exchange

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Hi! We're set to sail on the Brilliance of the Seas in August. Being that 3 ports of call: Denmark, Russia, and Sweden use a currency other than euros, how would you suggest we go about getting local currency? We will be with a shore excursion during each of these stops, so I don't foresee having easy access to an atm. How have you handled this situation? Thanks in advance.

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20 minutes ago, Joyfantastic said:

Hi! We're set to sail on the Brilliance of the Seas in August. Being that 3 ports of call: Denmark, Russia, and Sweden use a currency other than euros, how would you suggest we go about getting local currency? We will be with a shore excursion during each of these stops, so I don't foresee having easy access to an atm. How have you handled this situation? Thanks in advance.

 

We used our US credit cards on our Baltics cruse as it was just too much to get six different currencies for the countries we visited.  Very simple, had no issues (of course let your bank know beforehand of your travel plans).

 

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In Sweden and Denmark a Visa or Mastercard will work just fine for 90% of all cruise passangers.

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However I do recommend using a Chip and Pin credit card - such card will work everywhere - card requiring a signature might not work everywhere.

Denmark and Sweden are almost cashless - pay by credit card or mobile phone - Apple Pay will also work in a lot of shops.

Please remember that tipping is not common i Scandinavia - however appreciated - you can tip in Euro or US$.

Does apply to St. Petersburg also.

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Posted (edited)

We used our credit cards on our Baltic cruise. If you are worried about tip money, than you can tip in Euros.

Edited by Kate P.C

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1 hour ago, Kate P.C said:

We used our credit cards on our Baltic cruise. If you are worried about tip money, than you can tip in Euros.

And in Russia, our private tour guide happily took dollars.

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For our Baltic cruise we picked up local currency from our bank before departure. We get a small amount of local currency (about $20) for each port, plus US $ (small bills) and some Euros.

 

Most purchases are made with Visa, as with chip/pin cards, we have never experienced any issues. We only use cash for purchases from stalls or tips, etc.

 

In Russia, they specifically requested that any foreign currency used should be fairly new bills in good condition. We were advised by our tour operator that the banks will not accept damaged bills.

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You may just use your credit card as most establishments accept them. When you really need some local currency to use for, let's say, buying something from the street side souvenir shop, you may just withdraw from the ATM. The guides are okay with receiving USD or EUR for tips too.  

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1 hour ago, flowslow said:

you may just withdraw from the ATM.

We've been using ATMs in foreign countries for about 25 years.  No problems.

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On 7/1/2019 at 10:32 AM, Joyfantastic said:

Hi! We're set to sail on the Brilliance of the Seas in August. Being that 3 ports of call: Denmark, Russia, and Sweden use a currency other than euros, how would you suggest we go about getting local currency? We will be with a shore excursion during each of these stops, so I don't foresee having easy access to an atm. How have you handled this situation? Thanks in advance.

My guess is that you will not require local currencies since you will be on guided tours in each of these ports. Your credit card will be accepted almost everywhere if you wish to make a purchase or two. Furthermore, many vendors will accept euros or USD in Russia (although the exchange rate will not be favorable).

Although I always use ATMs in Europe for local currencies, I agree with your assessment that easy access to ATMs might present an issue while on a guided group tour. If you feel more comfortable having some local currency, you can acquire it before you leave home - check with your local bank or AAA. You might also contact your cruise line to see if guest relations aboard ship will have some local currency for exchange (again, the exchange rate will not be favorable but as you would need very little currency it should not "break the bank").

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3 hours ago, dogs4fun said:

If you feel more comfortable having some local currency, you can acquire it before you leave home - check with your local bank or AAA.

Doesn't that cost a lot?

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, clo said:

Doesn't that cost a lot?

I don't consider an extra $10 or $20 a lot. However, if you read my previous post you will note that I personally use ATMs in europe. I do not purchase any foreign currency at home but I am usually in Europe each year for several months & find it easy to acquire local currency in the cities that I am visiting. The OP will be on a group tour wherein it may be difficult to find an ATM within the time frame of the tour so I am simply offering options other than an ATM.

Edited by dogs4fun

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25 minutes ago, clo said:

Doesn't that cost a lot?

 

Yep! Most banks have a service/delivery charge that makes small transactions prohibitively expensive.

An advantage to AAA is that they offer a convenience pack that gives small denominations and a few coins. But you pay for this convenience, a markup of 20% or more iirc. 

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2 hours ago, dogs4fun said:

I don't consider an extra $10 or $20 a lot. However, if you read my previous post you will note that I personally use ATMs in europe. I do not purchase any foreign currency at home but I am usually in Europe each year for several months & find it easy to acquire local currency in the cities that I am visiting. The OP will be on a group tour wherein it may be difficult to find an ATM within the time frame of the tour so I am simply offering options other than an ATM.

I understood.  I'll also mention that over some years we've done maybe a half dozen escorted tours and always could find an ATM.  Even small towns.  

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Thank you for taking the time to advise me! After reading your suggestions, I'll look into getting small amounts of the currencies I need for these countries, along with the euros I typically get in advance from the bank.

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19 minutes ago, Joyfantastic said:

Thank you for taking the time to advise me! After reading your suggestions, I'll look into getting small amounts of the currencies I need for these countries, along with the euros I typically get in advance from the bank.

I have to chuckle.  Almost all replies advised to use ATM if you need anything but you're still going to get them in advance.  Curious why.  Also realize that you'll never to able to use them anywhere else.

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57 minutes ago, clo said:

I have to chuckle.  Almost all replies advised to use ATM if you need anything but you're still going to get them in advance.  Curious why.  Also realize that you'll never to able to use them anywhere else.

We get currency prior to departure, as port time is limited and we have no desire to waste time looking for an ATM that both accepts our network and is secure.

 

Won't use 3rd party ATM's, also no need to bring a debit card ashore - only 1 credit card ans small amount of cash.

 

All personal preference developed with over 40 yrs of cruising. When on land tours, we are more inclined to use ATM's, as we have more time.

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1 minute ago, Heidi13 said:

We get currency prior to departure, as port time is limited and we have no desire to waste time looking for an ATM that both accepts our network and is secure.

 

Won't use 3rd party ATM's, also no need to bring a debit card ashore - only 1 credit card ans small amount of cash.

 

All personal preference developed with over 40 yrs of cruising. When on land tours, we are more inclined to use ATM's, as we have more time.

What's your network that is problematic at times?  Also what's 3rd party ATM?  You must do a lot of shore excursions whereas we rarely do.  We like/love getting off on our own.

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As a small example, I recently spent two port days in the UK without having to withdraw Pounds at an ATM. The only spot of difficulty was a pay-and-display car park, but then I found one where I could pay via a smartphone app which downloaded in a few minutes over T-Mobile's free 256k data roaming.

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6 hours ago, Joyfantastic said:

Thank you for taking the time to advise me! After reading your suggestions, I'll look into getting small amounts of the currencies I need for these countries, along with the euros I typically get in advance from the bank.

I recently did a Baltics cruise and my credit card was accepted whenever I needed it. I am certain you can get by without local currencies.

 

Prior to the cruise I did get Euros and 150 Danish krones from my local AAA office.  I was charged 12 cents to convert dollars into krones, well worth it for me. I am glad I also had Euros as my wallet, which had my ATM card, was stolen during my trip. The Euros from AAA were in the safe and allowed me to continue my trip without using a credit card for cash advances. If I had relied only on ATMs in Europe, it would have cost me more than the conversion fee imposed by AAA had I used my credit card.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, meadowlander said:

I recently did a Baltics cruise and my credit card was accepted whenever I needed it. I am certain you can get by without local currencies.

 

Prior to the cruise I did get Euros and 150 Danish krones from my local AAA office.  I was charged 12 cents to convert dollars into krones, well worth it for me. I am glad I also had Euros as my wallet, which had my ATM card, was stolen during my trip. The Euros from AAA were in the safe and allowed me to continue my trip without using a credit card for cash advances. If I had relied only on ATMs in Europe, it would have cost me more than the conversion fee imposed by AAA had I used my credit card.

 

 

We got pickpocketed in Barcelona a few years ago and learned an important lesson.  In our document case with passport is now a credit card and debit card that aren't related to what we walk around with.  An about $100 cash.  We're never without our regular sources.

 

Twelve cents per dollar?  Wow!  That's outrageous IMO.

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I don't tend to make many big purchases of gifts, jewelry, etc while on cruises. On the rare occasion that I do, I use a credit card. However, I tend to snack a lot from vendors as I walk around. I also tend to buy little inexpensive trinkets. Hence the choice of having small amounts of local currency in my zippable pockets. Even in my home base in NYC, I tend to be a cash payer. My husband is the opposite. He's got his Fitbit pay setup and does almost everything with a bank card. Mock of you will, but from time to time, my way has gotten us out of a bind. 😉 I'm old enough and have traveled enough to know what works for me. I use cards judiciously, but also prefer to have cash ready to go. I am a planner who likes to be well prepared. 

Again, thank you for sharing your suggestions in an effort to help me decide how to handle this matter. And look at it this way, if I find that the cost of acquiring currency from those 3 countries in advance is ridiculously exorbitant, I'll simply have to wait to find an ATM upon disembarking. More stressful for me, but definitely doable. Either way, thanks for your time.

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On 7/5/2019 at 9:21 AM, clo said:

What's your network that is problematic at times?  Also what's 3rd party ATM?  You must do a lot of shore excursions whereas we rarely do.  We like/love getting off on our own.

Our debit cards work on the "Plus" network. I consider any ATM not owned by a recognised national bank/credit union to be 3rd party. Seen many use them, personally I will not.

 

We we do any of ship tours, private tours or simply wandering around. Even if just wandering, we have no desire to waste time looking for a bank, especially when it is so easy & cost effective to get currency from our local bank. Being retired we have more time at home than only a few hours in port on a cruise.

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2 minutes ago, Heidi13 said:

Our debit cards work on the "Plus" network. I consider any ATM not owned by a recognised national bank/credit union to be 3rd party. Seen many use them, personally I will not.

 

We we do any of ship tours, private tours or simply wandering around. Even if just wandering, we have no desire to waste time looking for a bank, especially when it is so easy & cost effective to get currency from our local bank. Being retired we have more time at home than only a few hours in port on a cruise.

That's another reason we're looking forward to sailing on Oceania.  Their port stays are eight to ten hours.

 

By "recognised national bank" to be a US bank?  Are they overseas?  We don't do 7-11s and the like but real banks.

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11 minutes ago, clo said:

That's another reason we're looking forward to sailing on Oceania.  Their port stays are eight to ten hours.

 

By "recognised national bank" to be a US bank?  Are they overseas?  We don't do 7-11s and the like but real banks.

We aren't from the US, so use a Canadian bank. It has branches in many other countries, but we will also use the national bank in most countries, provided they accept our cards.

 

For cruising we use Viking, which also has longer times in port and multiple overnights.

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