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Joanandjoe

Foreign currency for cruise to multiple countries

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Our northern route cruise from Amsterdam to New York next month will go to multiple countries, involving four different foreign currencies other than the Euro (and we have plenty of Euros):  UK pound (1 stop in Scotland), Danish krone (1 stop in Faeroe Islands and two in Greenland), Icelandic krona (3 stops in Iceland), and Canadian dollar (two stops in Canada).  We’ll want to give tips, and possibly buy stuff, at all of our stops.

 

Do we need to buy small amounts of each of the four currencies, or is it your experience that tour guides and drivers are happy to accept dollars or euros in these places?  Thanks.

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Me, I always purchase some of the local currency for tips and small purchases.  

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Does your favorite local business in New Jersey take Canadian dollars or Euros?

 

A little reading around will find many threads in this vein. First of all, credit card use is very widespread in Europe...you can use your cards virtually everywhere, including taxis. Tipping is far from the same as in the US...they tip far less in Europe.

 

I would get some local currency.

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If you are only in the UK for one day, I wouldn't bother getting any sterling. Contactless cards are used virtually everywhere, and not tipping is not going  to be a big deal.

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Credit cards are widely accepted in your ports of call. We always obtain local currencies at an ATM but I realize that this might prove time consuming if your time in port is limited and you are unfamiliar with an area.

Depending on your cruise line, you can usually obtain a small amount of local currencies onboard (although the exchange rate will not be favorable). Alternately, you can obtain foreign currencies before leaving home.

As others have mentioned, tipping is not common in most of your ports.

 

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15 hours ago, Joanandjoe said:

Do we need to buy small amounts of each of the four currencies, or is it your experience that tour guides and drivers are happy to accept dollars or euros in these places?  Thanks.

If you are only talking about tips, then most tour guides and drivers are okay with Dollars. I recall JB saying that he used to save his up to the end of the season and either use them himself in the USA or exchange them.

 

Dollars would not usually be acceptable as payment for tours.

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8 hours ago, Bob++ said:

If you are only talking about tips, then most tour guides and drivers are okay with Dollars. I recall JB saying that he used to save his up to the end of the season and either use them himself in the USA or exchange them.

 

Dollars would not usually be acceptable as payment for tours.

 

Indeed I did, Bob :classic_smile:

 

Same applies to other drivers, guides, restaurant staff etc who have a lot of dealings with international tourists.

USD are fine for tips in most of the world, plus euros in Europe. 

And I apply the same logic to discretionary tips on ships - an excellent way of using-up minor currencies if the ship is repeating the itinerary. 

 

But for actual purchases, in most of the world (but lots of exceptions like the Caribbean) you need to use plastic or local currency.

We like the comfort of having some local shrapnel in our pockets (local buses, market stalls, etc) so we usually take the equivalent of about $20-worth per port day.

 

JB :classic_smile:

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Posted (edited)

....but whatever you do, try to refrain from referring to the Sterling/Pounds as English when you're in Scotland. They print their own banknotes (but you can use the English or British - the same - pounds, no worries) in Scotland.

 

Prior to arrival in Edinburgh, I'd had no idea but just after I'd arrived, and when I handed my other pounds to a Scotsman for a transaction, there was a cheeky, but fun, wicked sneer when he glanced at the money. When he gave me my change, he told me now I had the right money! I got a laugh from it and it was one of my first fun encounters with the wonderful and proud Scottish people. 

 

I also always bring local currency when I travel, usually about US$50, or whatever it works out to be, simply to have a bit upon arrival for conveniences - bottles of water, quick snack, whatever small things. More and more, as is the case at home, I use my debit or credit card, carry cash less often. ATMs tend to be easy to find, just ensure your banks/card companies do not charge international transaction or currency conversion fees as they can add up. 
 

Your itinerary sounds dreamy, these are places I long to see and be at but for now look at via television and film and hope. Should be spectacular. Enjoy 🙂

Edited by Host Bonjour

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8 hours ago, Host Bonjour said:

, try to refrain from referring to the Sterling/Pounds as English when you're in Scotland. They print their own banknotes (but you can use the English or British - the same - pounds, no worries) in Scotland.

 

 

You are at risk of conflating currency and banknotes 🙂

 

The pound sterling is the official currency of the United Kingdom. Sterling denominated banknotes are issued by the Bank of England and by private banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland, under regulation by the Bank of England. Same currency, different banknotes. 

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On 8/8/2019 at 10:33 AM, Host Bonjour said:

....but whatever you do, try to refrain from referring to the Sterling/Pounds as English when you're in Scotland. They print their own banknotes (but you can use the English or British - the same - pounds, no worries) in Scotland.🙂

 

Ah, tiny detail, great catch.

 

The banknotes look different in Scotland but you can use them anywhere in Great Britain, aka United Kingdom, or: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, because the value, the worth of the notes is exactly the same. I wasn't too concerned about semantics and assumed I'd conveyed my meaning adequately but thank you for pointing it all out. It didn't seem to puzzle anyone, no inquiries, no historical concerns and money is money. I am happy 🙂 to clarify. 

 

https://www1.oanda.com/currency/converter/

 

Currency...sort of interchangeable with the words cash, banknotes, money, although it gets used in a commodified way when it comes to larger quantities in investments/trading, or even when one is just looking for someplace to obtain the local when they arrive in country. Or sometimes that gets referred to as Foreign Exchange counter = Forex, which can imply the currency trading exchange; it goes on and on. Various terms, jargon, understood to be interchangeable, especially in the financial services industry. And in everyday use. 

 

So for example, at the above site, OANDA, at this moment, US$1 = £1.20198 and that's what your Sterling are worth anywhere in the Kingdom, no matter what the notes look like. (Please note, that's the spot rate (economic value) not the rate one would get buying £ or selling excess currency/money/notes/coins. 

 

As a matter of Scottish pride and indeed, won't even go into it with regards to Northern Ireland, permission was granted for unique notes to be issued. Of course not just anyone could create their own Scottish cash, I don't think any individual in any country is permitted to make paper money legally, though we all know some try. ;0 Parliament (obviously the one in Westminster, not in Edinburgh - yes Scotland has their own, sort of, more like a branch of Westminster in Edinburgh) acquiesced, thus the Scottish notes/currency worth the same anywhere you go in Britain same as Bank of England issue notes and/or Northern Ireland notes.

 

I am sorry if my earlier post was unclear or misleading in anyway, if it implied that the value of Scottish £ would be different than £ in England or Wales or Northern Ireland, I apologize for any confusion. As it goes in the title, the Kingdom is indeed, United.

 

And it's absolutely wonderful in so many glorious and astounding ways. Scotland is mystical and I can identify it anytime I see it on screen in television or a movie; no place else looks as distinctively marvelous and mystical as Scotland. It's spectacular. Just bring money/cash/notes/currency, whatever £ you have, for maximum enjoyment of the land and people. I arrived on Robbie Burns birthday....it was kind of like Thanksgiving, except that doesn't compare. Just big. 

 

Great to have this cleared up, thank you. 🙂

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From previous post: So for example, at the above site, OANDA, at this moment, US$1 = £1.20198....

 

I think it is more likely that £1 = $1.202 US.

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In Canada buy ‘stuff’ with a credit card.    Tourist industry staff will happily accept tips in US$..    Especially since they represent a 30% premium over Can$.  Money is fungible.

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When we had 3 currencies for our European cruise, we got a little of each currency from our local AAA office beforehand. I like to have a bit of cash with me, plus any coins we get in change make great souvenirs for our nieces & nephews when we return! 

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We always have a supply of Euros because we are frequently in the Eurozone, but normally we only take credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees. Many places are contactless these days.

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On 8/12/2019 at 12:58 AM, Earl Rosebery said:

In Canada buy ‘stuff’ with a credit card.    Tourist industry staff will happily accept tips in US$..    Especially since they represent a 30% premium over Can$.  Money is fungible.


That depends on where you are in Canada.  I doubt the B&B I stayed at in Hinton, AB would have accepted US dollars.   

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Earl Rosebery said:

The BnB would qualify as 'stuff"   I said US$ would be acceptable for tips


In much of Canada I hardly doubt they would be happy getting tips in US currency.  Somehow I don't think the server who brought me my dinner in Saskatoon would have appreciated a tip in US Dollars. 

In Montreal they would probably throw it back at you--although they certainly thought I should kiss their butt when they left me a $2 Canadian bank note on an $80 tab when I worked two hours from the border.  I couldn't pay my rent in Canadian and the bank charged me an outrageous exchange rate and service fee to deposit it. 

Having been there, I know what a pain it is for service workers to have to deal with a non-standard currency, and I respect them too much to put that burden on them.  I get at least some currency for every country I'm headed off to before I travel so I'm equipped to at the least make small purchases and pay gratuities in the local currency.   I prefer to put the burden involving the intricacies of foreign travel on myself rather than the person trying to make a living in the country I'm visiting.

 

This year on holiday I'll be in five countries which use four different currencies (not including the USD I"ll have on me for sundry purchases at the airports to and from Europe) and I"ll arrive in each country with a supply of their standard currency.

Edited by ducklite

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On 8/11/2019 at 11:56 PM, Host Bonjour said:

The banknotes look different in Scotland but you can use them anywhere in Great Britain, aka United Kingdom, or: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, because the value, the worth of the notes is exactly the same.

 

Just so people are aware, while English banknotes (i.e. the ones that say Bank of England on them) are accepted everywhere in the UK, some places south of the border may refuse to take Scottish banknotes (i.e. the ones that say Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland or Clydesdale Bank). I honestly don't know if they are legally entitled to refuse them or legally required to accept them but it happens nevertheless. So if you do get Scottish banknotes given to you as change, you're probably best to try and get rid of them before leaving. Unless, of course, you know you'll be coming back again! :classic_smile:

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2 hours ago, FionaMG said:

I honestly don't know if they are legally entitled to refuse them or legally required to accept them but it happens nevertheless.

 

They are not required to accept them. Nor do they have to accept Bank of England notes, if they choose not to. As the Bank of England says, “If your local corner shop decided to only accept payments in Pokémon cards that would be within their right too. But they’d probably lose customers.”

 

People often try to use a “legal tender” argument in this context. But only those who who don’t know what legal tender actually means. To quote the Bank again, “Legal tender has a narrow technical meaning which has no use in everyday life”.

 

 

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On July 25, 2019 at 2:01 PM, Joanandjoe said:

Our northern route cruise from Amsterdam to New York next month will go to multiple countries, involving four different foreign currencies other than the Euro (and we have plenty of Euros):  UK pound (1 stop in Scotland), Danish krone (1 stop in Faeroe Islands and two in Greenland), Icelandic krona (3 stops in Iceland), and Canadian dollar (two stops in Canada).  We’ll want to give tips, and possibly buy stuff, at all of our stops.

 

Do we need to buy small amounts of each of the four currencies, or is it your experience that tour guides and drivers are happy to accept dollars or euros in these places?  Thanks.

 

If you bank with Bank of America, you can order foreign currency online through their App. There is a link to order foreign currency in the help section I believe. You input the countries and amount of currency for each. The amounts are taken out of your account and a few days later the currencies arrive in the mail at your home. We've done this twice now and it saved having to find an ATM, which we used to do, and enjoy our shore excursions.

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Thanks.  We figured out the Bank of America angle a long time ago.  This year we found out something even better.  In order to avoid a $10 service charge at B of A, one has to buy at least $1,000 of foreign currency.  At our local auto club, North Jersey AAA, the minimum to avoid a service charge of $10 is only $200; so we bought our currency at AAA.   What we bought was barely over $200, since we already had nearly 200 euros.

 

Now comes the hard part.  We used all of our UK pounds; but have excess Euros (which we can use easily) and two currencies we're unlikely to use:  Danish krone and Icelandic krona.  We won't hit Canada for another 2 days; so we don't yet know whether we will use our loonies.  In any event, we'll have about $100 or more of foreign currency (but probably less than $200), and will probably lose at least 20 to 25% of the value in converting back to US dollars. if we can do so at all.  We'll be going home from the pier in a taxi, so there won't be an airport where we can change money.

 

All in all, a very minor part of the cost of our trip.  Guides, especially in the UK, did appreciate having tips in local currency.

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1 hour ago, Joanandjoe said:

Thanks.  We figured out the Bank of America angle a long time ago.  This year we found out something even better.  In order to avoid a $10 service charge at B of A, one has to buy at least $1,000 of foreign currency.  At our local auto club, North Jersey AAA, the minimum to avoid a service charge of $10 is only $200; so we bought our currency at AAA.   What we bought was barely over $200, since we already had nearly 200 euros.

 

Now comes the hard part.  We used all of our UK pounds; but have excess Euros (which we can use easily) and two currencies we're unlikely to use:  Danish krone and Icelandic krona.  We won't hit Canada for another 2 days; so we don't yet know whether we will use our loonies.  In any event, we'll have about $100 or more of foreign currency (but probably less than $200), and will probably lose at least 20 to 25% of the value in converting back to US dollars. if we can do so at all.  We'll be going home from the pier in a taxi, so there won't be an airport where we can change money.

 

All in all, a very minor part of the cost of our trip.  Guides, especially in the UK, did appreciate having tips in local currency.

 

We usually end up with some foreign currency, but only buy about $50 of each., then treat ourselves to a local lunch before heading back to the ship, give some as tips on board. Those ships sail the same itinerary back to back, so crew has some spending money next time in port.Enjoy  your trip! We ended up in Iceland two years in a row. The first an Icelandair stopover on the way to Hamburg, the second a cruise out of Hamburg. Should have saved the Icelandic Krona from the first trip, if we had known.

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On 8/16/2019 at 9:00 AM, FionaMG said:

 

Just so people are aware, while English banknotes (i.e. the ones that say Bank of England on them) are accepted everywhere in the UK, some places south of the border may refuse to take Scottish banknotes (i.e. the ones that say Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland or Clydesdale Bank). I honestly don't know if they are legally entitled to refuse them or legally required to accept them but it happens nevertheless. So if you do get Scottish banknotes given to you as change, you're probably best to try and get rid of them before leaving. Unless, of course, you know you'll be coming back again! :classic_smile:

 

I brought back bank notes that had been issued from one of the designated Scottish banks back with me to spend in England and as it was still equivalent in value to what bank notes issued by the Bank of England were worth (and I was assured they'd be accepted) I kept them and indeed, they were accepted when I paid for whatever it was that I purchased. I can't recall because no one even looked at the notes, nothing happened, and I have no debacle to report. If it ever happened to a traveler, in 22 years on these message boards and our sister sites, Independent Traveler, and Family Vacation Critic, I've yet to read a story of a traveler being refused at the till with one note or the other. Might someone get pranked? Perhaps and caught unaware thanks to the often hilarious and bone dry British wit? Maybe. 

 

Insofar as other means of exchanging value, sure it's called barter. Getting something of value in exchange for something of value. That's basically why people decided money works better. The barter system was causing too many problems. The cash and carry (or tap) progress....

 

But a bit of bartering now and then isn't a bad thing. An option if there's ever an issue with traditional modes, or notes, of payment. 

 

Just had a thought, I was recently watching a French tv series set during WWII and the francs back then were the size of, hmm, decent size piece of stationery! Now that's a bank note. Old £ too I think? Imagine what it took to carry them, let alone worry about them being accepted. 😳 🙂

 

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6 hours ago, Host Bonjour said:

If it ever happened to a traveler, in 22 years on these message boards and our sister sites, Independent Traveler, and Family Vacation Critic, I've yet to read a story of a traveler being refused at the till with one note or the other. Might someone get pranked? Perhaps and caught unaware thanks to the often hilarious and bone dry British wit? Maybe. 

 

If you care to enter “Scottish notes refused” in your favourite search engine, you will find plenty of examples. There was a fuss in the newspapers just this weekend because it happened to a celebrity chef and earlier this year to the mother of tennis player Andy Murray.

 

I saw a notice recently in a London coffee shop that they would not accept Scottish notes or Bank of England £50 notes. And I’m pretty sure bartering would not be on their menu either....

 

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