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Money Matters

Cashless system: Though cruises may be billed as "all inclusive," let's just say that the term is relative. There are several things not covered in your cruise fare. A few examples? Wine, beer and cocktails (unless you're sailing on a luxury line); shore tours; gift shop purchases; and spa services. In order to make payments easy, you'll receive a swipe card upon check-in (which doubles as your room key) for charging various items and services to an account that can be settled at the end of your trip with a credit card or cash.

Cash and currency: Most cruise ships have an onboard ATM and some cruise lines will cash traveler's checks at their purser's desks. Note that U.S. dollars are accepted throughout much of the Caribbean and in some other regions. In Europe and Asia the ship's front office may provide currency exchange services or bring the service onboard once the ship is in port. Or, check the port facility at ports of call; some have ATM machines that will work with foreign debit cards (if they don't, a nearby town or village surely will). It is best to carry a small amount of local currency when in foreign ports for taxis and for purchases at small shops and street vendors. However, keep in mind that major credit cards are accepted in numerous places worldwide.

Tip from the boards: JacquieP advises, "With some credit cards, it is wise to notify the credit card company of where you will be going, so if they see, for example, jewelry purchases from the Caribbean, and you live in the middle of nowhere, they won't put a hold on your card."

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