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Moose12345
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I have read many reviews about using credit card and not taking cash for our cruise.

We will be going to Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Germany and Russia on our cruise.

We always tip our tour guides. We are from Canada, and some of the exchange rates are very high. 

My question is, do I need to buy the local currency for each place to pay for tips? And how much is a good amount to tip for an excursion?

I've read that they don't expect tips as much in Europe, but we will still tip them for their tour.

Any advice would be helpful! 

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37 minutes ago, Moose12345 said:

I have read many reviews about using credit card and not taking cash for our cruise.

We will be going to Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Germany and Russia on our cruise.

We always tip our tour guides. We are from Canada, and some of the exchange rates are very high. 

My question is, do I need to buy the local currency for each place to pay for tips? And how much is a good amount to tip for an excursion?

I've read that they don't expect tips as much in Europe, but we will still tip them for their tour.

Any advice would be helpful! 

We always tip in the local currency. Many of your ports use the euro (Germany, Finland, Estonia) and Russian guides will happily accept tips in euros. Sweden uses the Krona, Denmark the Kroner. I imagine that guides in Sweden and Denmark would accept euros - they could certainly exchange for their local currency. 

That said, we only tip for exceptional tours - usually 5 - 10% of the tour price. We did tip 10% in Russia - our tours were phenomenal.

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You can tip in EUR (or USD) in Denmark and Sweden as well. Tipping in those countries is not required (but for sure appreciated). In general I do not think tipping in Denmark is necessary since a service charge is already included - 10% of tour price is too much. Does also include restaurants and taxis.

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When we were in Russia I would leave 1$ tip. I took a bunch of 1$ notes with me just for this reason. Russians love dollars. Maybe if you travel to Saint. P it might better to tip with euroes (if you have any) but speaking in general both dollars and euroes will do the job just right

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Except for Russia, where I tipped in crisp US 20s, I tipped in Euros even in the Scandinavian countries, and no one minded. Some guides even seemed surprised to get a tip. (But all the guides I tipped were excellent and we really wanted to show our appreciation.)

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On 2/20/2020 at 12:33 PM, Moose12345 said:

I have read many reviews about using credit card and not taking cash for our cruise.

We will be going to Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Germany and Russia on our cruise.

We always tip our tour guides. We are from Canada, and some of the exchange rates are very high. 

My question is, do I need to buy the local currency for each place to pay for tips? And how much is a good amount to tip for an excursion?

I've read that they don't expect tips as much in Europe, but we will still tip them for their tour.

Any advice would be helpful! 

I bought my husband a small amount of local currency for Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway because he likes going to the small markets.  It made a great Xmas present!  

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11 hours ago, Roger88 said:

When we were in Russia I would leave 1$ tip. Russians love dollars. 

@Roger88,  

While any tip is usually appreciated, even if just for the good will gesture and not its monetary value,  I can see a very limited number of scenarios whereby a $1 dollar tip would make sense - maybe a quick coffee from a hole in the wall vendor or a bite of street food, or a public bathroom...

Otherwise - 1-dollar bills are not in circulation in Russia, are accepted by Forex banks at a steep discount, and have to be in pristine mint condition to be accepted at all. 

That said, if it's a dollar coin, then it would likely  be appreciated for the novelty factor.

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41 minutes ago, napoxoguk said:

I can see a very limited number of scenarios whereby a $1 dollar tip would make sense - maybe a quick coffee from a hole in the wall vendor or a bite of street food, or a public bathroom...

Otherwise - 1-dollar bills are not in circulation in Russia, are accepted by Forex banks at a steep discount, and have to be in pristine mint condition to be accepted at all. 

This 👆

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The tips are totally up to you. I usually tip about 10% of the tour cost for the guide and about 5% for the driver. I believe it completely depends on your personal desire and is by no means compulsory. USD and EUR maybe your best option if you do not have the local currency. 

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Thanks everyone for all your posts. I think I will get a small amount for each port, just for tips and a few souvenirs. I can always use.

The British Pound and Euro are the ones that I will cry when I buy! 😭 They are at a very high exchange rate.

I guess it's the price you pay if you want to see the world! 😄

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First and foremost, people will do what they want, even when it's not expected. In countries where it's not expected, they may prefer a positive review on TripAdvisor.

 

My research (2018 from the web) indicates tips for tours aren't based on a percentage but, rather, on the length of the tour:

Half-day tour - $3-$5/pp

Full-day tour - $5-$10/pp

One or two-hour tour - $1-$2/pp

 

In St. Petersburg, SPB Tours, our first stop with the guide was an ATM (no English option) where she helped each of us withdraw a small amount of cash for incidentals.  At the end of the tour, a passenger took a collection of 'leftover' local currency. As tips weren't expected, the guide had hopped off the bus at a red light before we had a chance to give it to her. We left it with the driver.

 

I think tipping in Euros would be ok in most European countries, possibly with Russia being the exception.

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1 hour ago, Adventures ahead said:

In St. Petersburg, SPB Tours, our first stop with the guide was an ATM (no English option) where she helped each of us withdraw a small amount of cash for incidentals.  At the end of the tour, a passenger took a collection of 'leftover' local currency. As tips weren't expected, the guide had hopped off the bus at a red light before we had a chance to give it to her.

Please forgive me if I misunderstood your post above. Are you saying that your guide in Saint Petersburg with SPB tours did not expect a tip? This is certainly not the norm with guides in Saint Petersburg - especially those employed by SPB Tours. If you check the FAQ on their website, you will find the following information:

"Gratuities to the guide and driver are not included in the tour price. We recommend 10% of the tour cost to the guide and 5% to the driver, to be given separately. We can not charge any gratuity to your credit card. Please have some cash with you (USD, EUR or RUB) if you intend to tip your driver and guide.

Suggested amounts for flat-rate group tours per person: St. Petersburg (25-30 USD guide, 10-15 USD driver); Berlin (10 EUR guide, 5 EUR driver); Schwerin (10 EUR guide); Warnmünde/Rostock (10 EUR guide), Helsinki (5 EUR guide, 3 EUR driver); Tallinn (3-5 EUR guide), Stockholm (8 EUR guide, 4 EUR driver), Copenhagen (8 EUR guide, 4 EUR driver), Gdansk (8-10 USD guide, 3-5 USD driver), Riga (8-10 USD guide, 3-5 USD driver), Klaipeda (3-5 USD guide).

In St.Petersburg if you are on a 2-Day Tour, you can tip at the conclusion of the second day if you wish. Your guide and driver will be the same 2 people on both days.

Tips may be given in any currency, whatever is most convenient for you, but please make sure if using bills foreign to that country that they are in very good/new condition, otherwise the guide may not get full value for them. You can check exchange rates on www.xe.com."

 

Edited by dogs4fun
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21 hours ago, dogs4fun said:

Please forgive me if I misunderstood your post above. Are you saying that your guide in Saint Petersburg with SPB tours did not expect a tip? This is certainly not the norm with guides in Saint Petersburg - especially those employed by SPB Tours. If you check the FAQ on their website, you will find the following information:

"Gratuities to the guide and driver are not included in the tour price. We recommend 10% of the tour cost to the guide and 5% to the driver, to be given separately. We can not charge any gratuity to your credit card. Please have some cash with you (USD, EUR or RUB) if you intend to tip your driver and guide.

Suggested amounts for flat-rate group tours per person: St. Petersburg (25-30 USD guide, 10-15 USD driver); Berlin (10 EUR guide, 5 EUR driver); Schwerin (10 EUR guide); Warnmünde/Rostock (10 EUR guide), Helsinki (5 EUR guide, 3 EUR driver); Tallinn (3-5 EUR guide), Stockholm (8 EUR guide, 4 EUR driver), Copenhagen (8 EUR guide, 4 EUR driver), Gdansk (8-10 USD guide, 3-5 USD driver), Riga (8-10 USD guide, 3-5 USD driver), Klaipeda (3-5 USD guide).

In St.Petersburg if you are on a 2-Day Tour, you can tip at the conclusion of the second day if you wish. Your guide and driver will be the same 2 people on both days.

Tips may be given in any currency, whatever is most convenient for you, but please make sure if using bills foreign to that country that they are in very good/new condition, otherwise the guide may not get full value for them. You can check exchange rates on www.xe.com."

 

Interesting, good to know. I don't recall this being spelled out on their website 10 years ago.  Regardless, we planned to tip and did leave cash with the driver. I can't be sure if he understood to share with the guide when he would see her next. 

 

OP: We tip based on the length of the tour and not on a percentage basis, extra if they're super, and not in US$ in Europe. Hope that helps.

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  • 5 months later...
On 7/31/2020 at 10:24 AM, Nok977 said:

Moose, if your travel includes the Nordics, you will also need Swedish, Norwegian and Danish Kronas 🙂 However to my knowledge in these countries in most cases it is possible to add tips to a credit card bill 

Yes, I will be buying money for these countries as well. The exchange isn't as hard on my pocketbook though. 🤣😂

I still have my fingers crossed that our cruise will be able to go next May. 🤞

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34 minutes ago, Nok977 said:

We are keeping our fingers crossed too. Planning nowadays is probable the toughest task. 

I agree about the planning. I have booked all of our hotels, excursions and our flight. All can be cancelled if we need to, but I'm hoping that doesn't happen. 

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26 minutes ago, Nok977 said:

Moose I do hope you won't need to cancel anything, neither do we. At some point this mess should end! 

I hope you are correct and it does end soon. We are from Ontario, Canada and our numbers are lower where we live. Not many cases at all. But the bigger cities still have just under 100 cases per day. I've heard that our Canada/USA borders might not open until the middle or late 2021. 😲😲 I hope they are wrong. 

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7 hours ago, Lagerta said:

Never had any inconvenience.

For you? Or for the receiver who‘s doing the currency conversion?

 

I guess if enough people tip in USD/EUR/GBP, it can be worth the trip to Forex, but if someone gave me a few dollars in cash, I’d probably just pawn it off on someone planning a trip to the US!

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31 minutes ago, kaisatsu said:

For you? Or for the receiver who‘s doing the currency conversion?

 

I guess if enough people tip in USD/EUR/GBP, it can be worth the trip to Forex, but if someone gave me a few dollars in cash, I’d probably just pawn it off on someone planning a trip to the US!

People have differing opinions on how to tip and in which currency they should tip. We try to follow local customs in tipping and we feel it is disrespectful to a foreign host/guide to tip in anything other than their local currency. JMHO

On our first trip to Saint Petersburg via cruise we did tip our guide in clean, crisp USD (our tour company told us that this was acceptable). The tip amounted to about $50 USD per person (at least that is what each person in our party tipped) so I assume it was worthwhile for the guide to convert our USD to rubles. In all the other ports of call, we tipped in the local currency as, like expressed above, we did not feel it would be worth the guide's time to convert small sums of USD to local currency.  On all subsequent trips to Russia, we have tipped in rubles.

Interesting ... when we visited Budapest over the past few years, the shops preferred euros to HUF (this also occurred a few years ago in Poland - euros were preferred).

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With all respect, but our guide once told us that Russian currency is quite unstable and many Russian people prefer saving money in USD or EUR. So I hope it doesn't make feel anyone uncomfortable taking into account that tipping sum for the guide is never less that 50USD. I don't say about tipping in cafes or restaurants as tipping sum there is not that big. For that purpuses I always have some local cash. Anyway tipping in many places might be included in the bill and paid by card.

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On 8/18/2020 at 3:20 PM, Lagerta said:

With all respect, but our guide once told us that Russian currency is quite unstable and many Russian people prefer saving money in USD or EUR. So I hope it doesn't make feel anyone uncomfortable taking into account that tipping sum for the guide is never less that 50USD. I don't say about tipping in cafes or restaurants as tipping sum there is not that big. For that purpuses I always have some local cash. Anyway tipping in many places might be included in the bill and paid by card.

It obviously depends on the location, so the suggestion that it's not an inconvenience is very specific to the situation. Yes, it's the norm for tour companies in Russia, and tipping in dollars is no big deal in a place like Cancun, but that doesn't mean it's universally convenient for the recipient. In Scandinavia, cash is becoming less and less common (most local banks do not even accept local cash), so finding affordable options to exchange foreign cash can be a challenge.

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  • 1 month later...

I used to fly in to Sweden on a regular basis several years in a row and I loved the fact I never had to buy cash. All restaurants offered an option to leave tips with credit card, bus/subway tickets - everything could be purchased with no cash at hand. 

However we had one occasion when we used euros in a shoe store. My wife found a pair of heel sandals she fell in love with 🙂 while walking along Biblioteksgatan in Stockholm and discovered she forgot her wallet in the hotel but fortunately she had some euros in her passport and the shop assistant said there was no need to go and change! None of our Swedish friends believed it was true! 

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