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  #1  
Old May 18th, 2009, 01:13 PM
Diane Ryan Diane Ryan is offline
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Default Celebrity Constellation Baltic Cruise


We will be on the Celebrity Constallation's Baltic Cruise June 27 - July 11. I would love to get some information from other cruisers to this area on using independent tour guides. Will they accept US$ and if not how hard is it to get the local currency onboard? Also, how warm does it get in July in the Baltics?
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Old May 18th, 2009, 04:23 PM
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Leejnd4 Leejnd4 is offline
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I would urge you to post your question in the Europe - Baltics forum. Click here. I would also urge you to find your roll call thread, and join in to introduce yourself to other passengers who will be on your cruise. You might even be able to connect with some fellow passengers who will want to join you on a private tour, making it MUCH more affordable. That's what we did - we have two other couples that we met here on Cruise Critic doing a private tour in St. Petersburg, for substantiall less money then we'd have to pay to see the same things on a ship excursion.

To answer some of your specific questions: you cannot get foreign currency onboard the ship. If you need foreign currency, you can simply use an ATM on shore. Most private guides will accept US dollars...they price their tours in their local currency, then ask you to pay the amount in USD at the current exchange rate. As for weather, we'll be there the same dates as you (on Crystal Symphony). Everything I'm reading says that it will be comfortable - not too warm, not too cool - mostly long pants and short sleeves type temps, with the possibility of some warmer days and cooler nights. Dress in layers for shore excursions. It does rain occasionally so bring a raincoat that you can roll up and keep in a backpack when on shore excursions.
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Old May 18th, 2009, 04:26 PM
kitty9 kitty9 is offline
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You will most certainly need to get the local currency. Unlike cruises in the Caribbean or Mexico, European countries don't take US dollars. The best exchange rate is using local ATM machines. You can change currency on the ship, but they charge high fees and the rates are not as good as ATM's.

If your Baltic cruise stops in St Petersburg, you'll need individual visas UNLESS you take a ship's tour or book a local government approved agency like Denrus or Red October. You won't be allowed to step one foot of the ship in Russia by yourself without a visa.

Most other Baltic ports can easily be done on your own. But, if you want an independent guide for tours, you must arrange those before you leave. It's not like the Caribbean where those tour guys line up outside the ship selling tours. You won't find that in Europe.

Leeanne, you can get foreign currency on the ship. We were able to exchange US currency into British Pounds or Euros or Kroner on Celebrity Constellation last May. None of our tour guides would accept US currency. They all asked for payment in local currency and most did not accept credit cards. This was for our Baltic/British Isles cruise last year. We pre-arranged our tours via reputable tour companies about a month before our cruise.

As for weather, that's impossible to tell. I've been there in July when it's been in the high 80's and another times when it's been in the 60's for daytime highs.
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Last edited by kitty9; May 18th, 2009 at 04:32 PM.
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Old May 18th, 2009, 06:07 PM
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Leejnd4 Leejnd4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitty9 View Post
Leeanne, you can get foreign currency on the ship. We were able to exchange US currency into British Pounds or Euros or Kroner on Celebrity Constellation last May. None of our tour guides would accept US currency. They all asked for payment in local currency and most did not accept credit cards. This was for our Baltic/British Isles cruise last year. We pre-arranged our tours via reputable tour companies about a month before our cruise.
Darcie, you are right that you CAN get foreign currency onboard - I just would never consider it, since as I recall, their exchange rate was very unfavorable, and they charged additional fees on top of the unfavorable exchange rate. I guess I forgot that you can actually get it, since I don't consider it a reasonable source. ATM's can be found very easily at most ports in Europe, will always give you the best exchange rate - far better than the ship, and better than money-changing booths or even banks in port.

I personally have never had a problem with a tour op not taking USD. In fact, Anastasia, with whom we'll be touring St. P, has made it clear she would happily accept USD, and the guides/drivers will also happily accept USD for tips. I also have never had problems paying private tour guides in USD in Mediterranean ports - in France, Italy, even in Madeira, Portugal. I'm not sure why you did, and I didn't...but as long as you have an ATM card, then any tour guides who WON'T accept USD would, I'm quite sure, happily take you to an ATM card to pay them in their local currency.
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