Don’t Show Me the Money! – Foreign bills can be fun… maybe… for some people.…

Monday Mantra

Cashless cruising!… Cashless cruising!… Cashless cruising!

Don’t Show Me the Money!

Foreign bills can be fun… maybe… for some people.…

Nothing’s better than entering your cabin on embarkation day and ditching your wallet in the safe knowing your signature is all you’ll need to buy drinks, book shore excursions and spa treatments, and even gamble! The only problem is that the cashless concept doesn’t extend to our ports of call.

Sooner or later, you’ll need to fetch those bills and coins that have been resting peacefully in the folds of the wallet you locked away and, oh, what an inconvenience! Why can’t you just sign your name for the taco on that street corner in Cozumel or that round of rum drinks at the tiki bar?

For major purchases, credit cards are usually the answer as long as you’re getting a fair exchange rate and you’re not whipping out the card at an unsavory-looking street market in a third world country. When I travel, the ATM is my friend — or it was until a brief call at Guernsey, where I withdrew a lot of money intending to spend the bulk of it in London and then … surprise! I discover that Guernsey currency may only be used in Guernsey, so I really need to return there soon and buy something significant. Like a car.

I love the euro. Sure, I may have loved the euro a lot more when it was on par with the U.S. dollar, but things are looking better now than they did in 2008 when the euro’s value was nearly $1.60 … ouch! And I must admit that I have a special fondness for the one-euro coin. With its two-tone color scheme and the myopic-friendly giant “1” on the back, the one-euro coin is the only piece of foreign currency I immediately recognize.

Before the euro’s 2002 introduction, a European sailing required a maddening number of currencies: pesos, escudos, francs, guilders, and, my personal favorite, the lira (which I once spent 30,000 of for a glass of wine in Venice). Today, we can just breeze through with one currency until we hit the U.K. and there, the party’s over. Not only will you need a different currency, but it’s one with a value darn close to that $1.60 that made the euro so distressing in 2008.

When foreign currency overwhelms me during my travels, there’s comfort in knowing that those who visit our shores endure the very same thing. Like the time an English friend generously agreed to pick up our dinner tab during his visit to New York. He dug into his wallet, retrieved a wad of bills, looked at me with exasperation, and whined, “Why do they all have to be green???”

— Judi Cuervo

Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.