Has any exchanged usd for local currency.. Help!

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Montreal, Canada
158 Posts
Joined Nov 2012
I will be going on the island princess this december and want to know about currency. I understand that the countries will accept usd (There are soo many threads asking IF usd is accepted), however I want to know if it's a good idea? Meaning will they do an exchange or take the usd as par with their currency? I can go through the trouble of changing money into local currency before leaving if there is a big advantage. Anyone out there who actually exchanged your money? was it worth it?? Anyone who used usd, did you feel ripped off?

Thanks for the help its really appreciated.
Palm City, Fl
4,755 Posts
Joined Dec 2002
Yes, it's a good idea to use US$$.

Dunno what your itinerary for Panama is, but last I knew Panama uses the US$ as it's official currency. If you are doing a full transit, it won't matter, but if you are on a rt from Ft Lauderdale, you may tender off the ship for an excursion, in which case you will have opportunities to SHOP!

They actually call it a balboa, and there are coins (exactly the size, weight of US coins) but the paper money is the US$

As for your other ports, they will gladly take the US$, but may post prices in local currency, so knowing exchange rates can be very helpful. (we had this in Cartagena)
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Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama
1,205 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
It makes no sense to pay the commission on exchanging US$ for local money if you don't have to. You not only pay the commission but you are likely going to be stuck with leftover local currencies that can't be used elsewhere. Typical Panama Canal route you're fine with US$ or credit cards. Regards, Richard
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Richard Detrich - Port & Canal Lecturer & Author
Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama
1,205 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
We have found that it is fine to use USA currency in Panama and it makes wise sense.
The currency in Panama IS the US $ and with the exception of about 1 week always has been since the country was created. It's called the "Balboa" but it is in fact the US $. Change is both US & Panama imprinted - works in vending machines in US and Panama the same. Only difference is a new $1 or 1 Balboa coin which is unique to Panama. Looks and feels something like a Euro, is in wide use and was introduced because of the high cost of storing and shipping old US $1 bills back to the US Treasury. Locally called a "Martinelli" after the current Present who introduced it.

Regards, Richard
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Richard Detrich - Port & Canal Lecturer & Author
Montreal, Canada
158 Posts
Joined Nov 2012
My Itin includes aruba, cartegena, limon, panama, and grand caymen.... So it seems wise to just exchange my CAD to USD and leave it as that. Which also takes a stress off my shoulders

Thanks for the replies everyone
Southern California
557 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
I had no troubles using USD$ in Aruba or Cartagena in March. Used a credit card for a large purchase in Cartagena, no troubles there either.

Can't say about Limon or Grand Cayman.
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