Posted May 18th, 2009, 06:07 PM
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.