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  #1  
Old April 19th, 2013, 03:10 PM
Jdittman Jdittman is offline
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Cool Russian River Cruise, ATM's, and cold hard cash

I remember reading somewhere that ATMs were available in both St Petersburg and Moscow. I also read that alot of the small venders take cash(American). For those of you that have sailed the Volga in Russia, I need some opinions about how much cash I should take.

Do the boats take credit cards for incidentals like bar bill and other items?

If you think of any other advice, please feel free to post.

Thanks in advance for your help
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  #2  
Old April 19th, 2013, 06:06 PM
franski franski is offline
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Originally Posted by Jdittman View Post
I remember reading somewhere that ATMs were available in both St Petersburg and Moscow. I also read that alot of the small venders take cash(American). For those of you that have sailed the Volga in Russia, I need some opinions about how much cash I should take.

Do the boats take credit cards for incidentals like bar bill and other items?

If you think of any other advice, please feel free to post.

Thanks in advance for your help
There is a roll call for all Russian River cruises - that might help you out....

But - until you go over and see the words of wisdom there, let me see if I can help you.

ATMs are available in Moscow and St. Petersberg - as well as Uglich and Yaroslavl. We paid our on-board account (bar and gift shop) with a credit card. We chose to pay our gratuities in cash - I can't remember if paying by credit card was an option. Sorry. But, the company can answer those questions for you.

We took the equivalent of about $400 in local currency. I don't know if local vendors would take US dollars... I think that the Russian government is pretty strict about using Rubles. Perhaps if you post that question on the roll call you will get an answer. Past cruisers do "lurk" and answer questions. Or - look for the roll call for 2012 --> lots of good information posted there after people returned from their cruise.

We travelled with Uniworld and it was a great experience. Enjoy your trip.

Fran
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  #3  
Old April 19th, 2013, 06:33 PM
beverlyjack beverlyjack is offline
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Not knowing the availability of ATMs when we went in 2004. I got a couple of hundred $ in rubles from Travelex or another such vendor in Frankfurt and got totally ripped of. Even then ATMs were common in almost every city. Almost all banks have them, as well as many other locations. I prefer the banks, due to assumed greater security, but I did use others as well. The street vendors took US dollars and, generally gave change in $, so you were not getting ripped off on exchange rates. How you can pay on the ship will vary by cruise line. On Grand Circle, we could pay for ship expenses and optional tours by credit card. Tips could be either rubles or $. It was all Americans on the trip.
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  #4  
Old April 19th, 2013, 06:36 PM
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This link might help: http://www.waytorussia.net/Practicalities/Money.html

I used an ATM in both St. Petersburg and Moscow (GUM Department Store).

I did get a couple hundred dollars in Rubles at AAA before I left; the exchange rate was awful (20%).
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  #5  
Old April 20th, 2013, 08:09 AM
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Street vendors will take American dollars/Euros. Stores will not/can not.

I brought about $400 in Rubles that I had received from Wells Fargo. The exchange rate was not bad at all. I probably brought the same in dollars.

There were ATMs easily accessible in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

We could pay our ship bill on credit card but had to pay our tips in cash (euros, rubles or dollars). This was on AMA.
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  #6  
Old April 20th, 2013, 08:29 AM
4774Papa 4774Papa is offline
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We were on Vantage Russia in 2011. We used our credit cards and ATMS in Moscow and STP, but took $500 in mixed dollars and Rubles.

I always take the cash just in case our ATM cards don't work for some reason. Our hotels in Moscow and STP had ATMS.

Remember, you need cash to pay for the tips at the end of your trip for the river boat crew and Program Manager.

It seems that we were able to use credit cards on the river boat, but have take other river cruises since and may be mixing them up with Russia.

Enjoy, Russia is great.
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  #7  
Old April 23rd, 2013, 02:51 PM
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I believe you can always exchange cash in local Exchange kiosks or a bank. The rate should be better than using and paying at least 3% fee at any ATM.
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Old April 23rd, 2013, 04:58 PM
4774Papa 4774Papa is offline
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I believe you can always exchange cash in local Exchange kiosks or a bank. The rate should be better than using and paying at least 3% fee at any ATM.
We got a better rate with the ATMs. There are many exchange kiosks in Moscow and STP, more than ATMs. We used the ATMs at our hotels.
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Old April 25th, 2013, 09:16 PM
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I believe you can always exchange cash in local Exchange kiosks or a bank. The rate should be better than using and paying at least 3% fee at any ATM.
We were informed that if we were going to do any transactions at a bank, we would need our passport with us. The ship strongly recommended that we keep our passports on the ship as much as possible for protection purposes (lots of pick pocketing). I never carried my passport around because of that.
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Old April 25th, 2013, 11:52 PM
abredt abredt is offline
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I always carry my passport in a pouch that goes around my waist - cinched tight and under my underwear and under my pants. What if there is a serious problem that requires immediately going to the US Embassy and you don't have a passport?

It's a must in today's world. Regardless of what the ship people say.
cb
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  #11  
Old April 26th, 2013, 04:58 PM
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I always carry my passport in a pouch that goes around my waist - cinched tight and under my underwear and under my pants. What if there is a serious problem that requires immediately going to the US Embassy and you don't have a passport?

It's a must in today's world. Regardless of what the ship people say.
cb
Agree. In Russia you always have to carry your ID with you and be able to prove you have russian visa if stopped by police.
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2013 -- Viking Spirit 'Paris & the Heart of Normandy'
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  #12  
Old April 27th, 2013, 08:32 AM
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Agree. In Russia you always have to carry your ID with you and be able to prove you have russian visa if stopped by police.
Actually - you don't. We were advised on both of my trips not to do so. I have a friend who has worked in the American Embassy in Moscow and she strongly recommended that you do not carry your passport and to keep it in a safe where you stay. I know books you buy here say that but once there, most say "do not carry it". I did carry a copy of my passport but did not carry the passport.
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Old April 27th, 2013, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by abredt View Post
I always carry my passport in a pouch that goes around my waist - cinched tight and under my underwear and under my pants. What if there is a serious problem that requires immediately going to the US Embassy and you don't have a passport?

It's a must in today's world. Regardless of what the ship people say.
cb
The US Embassy can quickly pull up the exact copy of your passport on their system. You do not need to carry it. I was advised by someone who worked at the American Embassy to not carry it due to the huge amount of people having their passports lifted due to pick pocketers. This is a huge issue here that the US Embassy constantly deals with (having to make temporary passports for US citizens).
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Last edited by Coral; April 27th, 2013 at 08:35 AM.
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Old April 27th, 2013, 08:52 AM
Casey12 Casey12 is offline
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Agree. In Russia you always have to carry your ID with you and be able to prove you have russian visa if stopped by police.
We have also been to Russia a few times and it was also recommended to us to keep the passport on the ship and not carry it unless we needed to go to the bank. When we stayed at a hotel, the hotel kept it for a short time and then gave it back to us a day or two later. We then kept it in our hotel safe.

Getting back to the original question, we brought Rubles from our bank here in the US -- Wells Fargo -- and then used ATM machines once in Moscow.

Last edited by Casey12; April 27th, 2013 at 08:54 AM.
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Old April 27th, 2013, 08:52 AM
beverlyjack beverlyjack is offline
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When we were there with Grand Circle, in 2004. They told us that our boarding passes were adequate identification and, if we needed to use a bank to change money or travelers checks that a color photocopy of the signature page of our passport was sufficient. We always leave our passport secured on the ship and carry a copy on our person. Losing your passport would be a major headache. In the case of a lost passport, the copy also facilitates getting a replacement. We heard of no one on our ship getting challenged for identification.
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Old April 28th, 2013, 05:01 AM
pixiegirl-loves-travel pixiegirl-loves-travel is offline
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We never got asked for ID or passports last summer.

Some places do take USD, but I believe it is illegal to do so- so please don't. Most places take rubles and some Euros. More places than I expected took credit cards. I took about $250 in cash not including my pre-packed tips, and ended up having to use ATMs in Moscow and St Pete. Tried to find them along the river, but there weren't any after Yaroslavl until we got to St Pete. Most were easy to use, some were more challenging as they were all in Russian. However, everything was in the same place as we're used to, so managed to navigate it just fine. You'll need lots of small bills (100 ruble notes) for picture taking passes at most places, as well as for daily tour guide and bus driver tips. Some of the souvenir kiosks only take cash- but some do take credit cards, so it's a mixed bag there. You also get to hear a couple of music concerts in the churches with the options to buy CD's afterwards. You'll need cash or CC there. The CD's were around 800 rubles each ($25).

How much is a tricky question. $500- $1000 depending on how generously you tip and how many souvenirs you want to buy. I probably spend about $500, but wished I'd had a bit more while on the river. I ended up accepting a small loan of 1000 rubles from a fellow passenger to cover daily tips. Missed out on a few great souvenirs before we arrived in St Pete and could get to an ATM.

We paid for our optional tours, drinks, and misc with our credit card on the 2nd last day. All tips are in cash- Rubles or Euros. Leave your USD at home.
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  #17  
Old April 28th, 2013, 07:46 AM
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=
We paid for our optional tours, drinks, and misc with our credit card on the 2nd last day. All tips are in cash- Rubles or Euros. Leave your USD at home.
We could use our USD for tips (USD, EUROS and RUBLES) and we bought several things on the street with USD. I am glad I brought USD with me.
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Old April 28th, 2013, 08:14 AM
CaribbeanIsland CaribbeanIsland is offline
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We were told by ship's staff that it was best to leave our passports on the ship unless we really needed it in port. Police don't go around randomly asking tourists for their passports. We paid our tips in US and Rubles and bought many things from street vendors in US dollars. The street vendors wanted US dollars.

Our tips were 2x as much as they are on cruise ships.

Last edited by CaribbeanIsland; April 28th, 2013 at 08:17 AM.
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  #19  
Old April 28th, 2013, 08:48 AM
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We were on a Baltic cruise two years ago with an overnight stop in STP. Yes, you do need a small amount of rubles for eating in a small cafe. Our guide drove us to the Astoria Hotel, and there is a currency exchange in the lobby. Tourist shops did accept USD, but what they did was "exchange" them for you as a service. We didn't purchase much, so the few extra dollars spent on the exchange was worth the convenience. We still had a few rubles left over, I spent them at the Hermitage gift shop. My short answer after this rambling, is that you do need a small amount of rubles if you plan on stopping in a small cafe for a bite. The street vendors all accept USD.
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Old April 28th, 2013, 09:16 AM
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The street vendors (especially Moscow and SPB) will take US dollars but the real stores are not allowed to. We were often quoted prices on the street in Euros and Dollars, not Rubles.
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