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Italy Ports Capri, Florence, Genoa, Naples, Palermo, portofino, Rome, Sardinia, Sorrento, Taormina, Venice

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  #1  
Old October 15th, 2009, 12:04 PM
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Default Currency - Mediterranean Cruise

Good Morning
We are taking our first cruise. A 12 Night Med Cruise in April 2010. Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt. we will also be spending 5 nights in Rome afterwards.

My question is about currency. We are Canadian and are wondering what currency to take with us. Should we take all Euro? or order the local currency for Turkey and Egypt. Can the currency be changed on ship for the local tours, and if so should we take US with us for that purpose? We have a couple local tours already booked and they are paid in US dollars.

Just totally confused with what to bring with us

Thanks
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  #2  
Old October 15th, 2009, 12:18 PM
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You can get Euros, Turkish Lira and Egyptian pounds from an ATM machine. You will probably get the best rate there. I don't know about your ship as far as being able to change currency onboard.

Lots of places in Turkey will accept Euros, but you need to be careful of their conversion rate. While purchasing stamps at the post office in Istanbul, I was told the price was Six Euros or Six Liras. Of course, I paid in Liras!

I am not sure that too many people will want to accept US dollars right now!
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  #3  
Old October 15th, 2009, 06:35 PM
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I just got off the Equinox last week. Shops readily took U.S. dollars in Egypt, Israel, Turkey and Greece. We did not try in Italy because I used some left over Euros there. I never needed an ATM machine. In Eqypt, my wife bought a $200 cartouche and they charged it in U.S. dollars on my Visa Debit card.
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  #4  
Old October 16th, 2009, 08:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fblack View Post
In Eqypt, my wife bought a $200 cartouche and they charged it in U.S. dollars on my Visa Debit card.
I believe this practice is frequently advised against, at least with credit cards (and I assume a debit card is treated as a credit card when used as such?).

The reason being that if the charge is made in a foreign country, it will be converted back into whatever currency is used in that country (in your case Egyptian pounds), THEN reconverted to dollars by the bank or credit card company. So you tend to lose a little on each exchange.

See the paragraph on "Avoiding Dynamic Currency Conversion" in the Rick Steves article below:

http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/moneytip.htm

(The whole article is a useful review.)
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Old October 16th, 2009, 09:52 AM
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I would agree with Cynthia.

We were shopping at Harrod's in London last month when they offered the convenience of charging our card in US dollars. My wife asked what rate of exchange they used...it was £1=$1.68. At the time the bank rate was £1=$1.63.

We found charging or paying in local currency gives us the best rate. Also, when using a VISA debit card we are charged only 1% over the bank rate of exchange.

Lew
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  #6  
Old October 16th, 2009, 12:58 PM
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Actually my cartouche transaction worked well. My Visa Debit card only charges a 1% conversion fee. I checked my Visa Debit account. My $205 U.S. dollar purchase in Cairo appeared as a $207 charge on my Visa statement.
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  #7  
Old October 16th, 2009, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilcheg View Post
Good Morning
We are taking our first cruise. A 12 Night Med Cruise in April 2010. Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt. we will also be spending 5 nights in Rome afterwards.

My question is about currency. We are Canadian and are wondering what currency to take with us. Should we take all Euro? or order the local currency for Turkey and Egypt. Can the currency be changed on ship for the local tours, and if so should we take US with us for that purpose? We have a couple local tours already booked and they are paid in US dollars.

Just totally confused with what to bring with us

Thanks
We found that charging with CC when possible makes sense with a no fee like Capital One. Other CC charge a foreign conversion fee.

Many tours and small local purchases expect local currency. You can always change on the ship but expect a combo of fee and poor exchange to cost you 5-15%, YMMV. ATMs are a good way to get a "small" amount of local currency. But think thru your port days, as yes ATMs are everywhere convenience and availability during a busy port day may or many not make this a practical strategy.

For our trip I exchanged a large some at our local bank. It was large enough that there was minimum conversion fee. Then I opportunistically converted addtional money at ATMs when I had time. A family member planned less well and got robbed at the airport.

What strategy you take depends really on how you plan to spend your port day.

Good luck.
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Old October 16th, 2009, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fblack View Post
In Eqypt, my wife bought a $200 cartouche and they charged it in U.S. dollars on my Visa Debit card.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fblack View Post
Actually my cartouche transaction worked well. My Visa Debit card only charges a 1% conversion fee. I checked my Visa Debit account. My $205 U.S. dollar purchase in Cairo appeared as a $207 charge on my Visa statement.
Was the amount charged to your debit card $200 or $205?

Also, if the charge was in US dollars, why did VISA charge any fee at all?

Lew
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  #9  
Old October 16th, 2009, 06:35 PM
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My cartouche was rung up as $205 U.S dollars. My account was debited $207. I was told the $2 charge was a 1% foreign bank "transaction" fee and had nothing to do with a currency exchange rate. It's not a foreign exchange fee (sometimes called a currency conversion fee).
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  #10  
Old October 17th, 2009, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
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Also, if the charge was in US dollars, why did VISA charge any fee at all?

Lew
Because they can. It was not Visa, but the issuing bank that added the 1% charge. It is an out and out money grab, the foreign transaction is no more expensive for the bank than a domestic transaction.

The advice against accepting dynamic currency conversion is sound. It is cheaper to be charged in local currency and have your credit card or debit card company do the conversion. The foreign merchant offers the dynamic currency conversion "service" as an additional source of profit.

More on dynamic currency conversion and comparisons of issuing banks' fees can be found here: http://flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php...reign_Exchange
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  #11  
Old October 18th, 2009, 10:30 AM
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To get back on track, not that it makes any difference but we are Canadian as well. We recently took our first cruise on the Solstice.
On the ship, your account (everything gets added to it, no cash aboard the ship) will be charged in US dollars. I suggest that you let your credit card company do the exchange conversions for you as opposed to the ship.
Most ports you will be in has the Euro as their currency. Turkey (Kusidasi, Istanbul and Ephesus) use Turkish Lira but accept US dollars and Euros as well. Using your credit card will be moot as the cc company will just convert when you get your bill.
Egypt uses the Egyptian Pound. Never been there but I would just use my credit card for everything.
When we were in Rome (like you we stayed 5 days after the cruise) we used the ATM for walkaround cash and used the card for everything else.
One thing, make sure you tell your credit card company and bank you will be in the places you are going. Even with telling them, my Wife had a problem in Turkey. It is not fatal but can be embarrassing.
As an aside, we stayed at the Hotel Campo de Fiori and found it perfect. Withing walking distance of all the sites and attractions and Piazza Campo de Fiori is a market during the day and full of restaurants (very good) in the evenings. I posted a review with some photos on tripadvisor. I highly recommend it. You are also a few few blocks from Piazza Navonna with even more great restaurants. (If you have children to buy for, there is the most amazing toy shop at the end of Piazza Navonna. Very unique things in there.)
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Last edited by pete_coach; October 18th, 2009 at 10:37 AM.
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  #12  
Old October 19th, 2009, 03:55 PM
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We live in Buffalo and went into Ft. Erie, Canada for our Euros at a foreign currency broker. Rate was a lot cheaper than in the states at any bank, etc. You order one day and get it the next. They could probably get you whatever you need.
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  #13  
Old October 21st, 2009, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilcheg View Post
Good Morning
We are taking our first cruise. A 12 Night Med Cruise in April 2010. Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt. we will also be spending 5 nights in Rome afterwards.

My question is about currency. We are Canadian and are wondering what currency to take with us. Should we take all Euro? or order the local currency for Turkey and Egypt. Can the currency be changed on ship for the local tours, and if so should we take US with us for that purpose? We have a couple local tours already booked and they are paid in US dollars.

Just totally confused with what to bring with us

Thanks
We are planning to use exclusively the ATM machines because we find the whole exchange process to be too much of a hassle.
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  #14  
Old October 22nd, 2009, 09:09 PM
Earl Rosebery Earl Rosebery is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilcheg View Post
Good Morning
We are taking our first cruise. A 12 Night Med Cruise in April 2010. Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt. we will also be spending 5 nights in Rome afterwards.

My question is about currency. We are Canadian and are wondering what currency to take with us. Should we take all Euro? or order the local currency for Turkey and Egypt. Can the currency be changed on ship for the local tours, and if so should we take US with us for that purpose? We have a couple local tours already booked and they are paid in US dollars.

Just totally confused with what to bring with us

Thanks
Don't take anything except a few US dollars to get you out of the airport. ATMs are everywhere. They give the best exchange rates by far. Tell your bank where you will be. If you deposit extra cash into your Visa account ,that is have a positive balance , you can withdraw cash with a visa card without paying cash advance interest. Again, check with your bank. Turkey charges canadians 60 US dollars for a visa. this is really just a landing fee. Strangely they charge Americans less. To reiterate, you do not need to take much currency with you. Euros are fine in Turkey. i don't know about Egypt but any travel site ror Cairo or any guide book will tell you. The ships give you a very poor rate for cash advances in the local currency.
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  #15  
Old October 23rd, 2009, 06:09 AM
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I am a great fan of getting local currency out of the ATMs, and using credit cards for large-ish purchases abroad.

However, I have had every possible problem with ATMs and cards on various trips (thankfully not all on the same trip - yet!) So we now travel with more than one debit card, in case the machine doesn't like one of them, and more than one credit card in case the bank decides that despite us telling them where we will be, the out-of-area transaction should be refused. We also travel with a starter supply of cash (in the local currency if possible) in case everything goes wrong. It saves a lot of headaches!

Lisa
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  #16  
Old October 23rd, 2009, 08:12 PM
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Currency in Turkey: we recently found that while € are readily accepted in Kusadasi (Kusadasi town itself) they could not be used (or only with much hassle, which we didn't bother even trying) in Istanbul. The main museums in Istanbul, e.g. Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, etc, are state-run, in the main, and will expect payment in Turkish Lira.

On a different scale of costs, the Istanbul tram ticket booths will also expect payment in Lira for the little jetons to use to get onto the tram stations.
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  #17  
Old October 24th, 2009, 11:49 AM
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As Tom UK said, you will need Lira for the main tourist sites in Istanbul although they will accept euros in the bazaar. There are however a few stands around the Blue Mosque area where you can convert your currency.

On another note, private tour guides often quote in US $, perhaps are most of their customers are American, & for our first trip I dutifully bought some to pay. However, after this, I asked the guides when booking if they would accept euros instead and they all agreed without question. (In fact in Turkey & Egypt they were just as happy to accept Sterling too.)
So if you prefer not to mess with too many currencies, perhaps you could pay for your tours in Euros too?
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Old October 24th, 2009, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
So if you prefer not to mess with too many currencies, perhaps you could pay for your tours in Euros too?
I got a distinct impression in Turkey that anything that was privately run - a shop in a bazaar, a bar, the dolmuses, tour guides - would take payment in €, US$, and quite possibly £, as well as Lira. Whereas anything 'official' - museums in Istanbul, trams, and maybe Ephesus as well - would only accept Lira.
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