By Linda Carter
2) You will often need money in a foreign cruise port. While many Caribbean ports will take US currency, that is not the case in Europe or many other ports. When shopping you best options is to use a credit card without foreign transaction fees. An example of this would be Chase Sapphire, or Capital One. Be aware that some countries, like Australia, allow stores to charge extra for using credit cards. Also know that in Europe the chip and pin card is in use, and while Chase offers a chip card, these will not currently work in bus and train stations.
3) Using your ATM to get cash is almost always less expensive than exchanging currency at banks or airports. Your best bet is to use a bank that does not charge for foreign ATM use. One example is Capital One. If you are using an ATM, consider a dedicated account for travel, so that if there is any problem with fraud, your everyday account is not effected.
4) Let your cell phone company know you will be on a cruise ship, then use your text feature to keep up with friends at home. Usually texts are between .10 and .50 each. Far less than the onboard cost of the ship to shore costs, most major cell phone networks will work on cruise ships. Be aware there will be a charge per minute, regardless of your package if you use your phone. In addition, often if your cell phone rings, even if you don't answer it you may be charged, so check your bill after you return home.
6) Be aware that the internet is very slow on a cruise ship. If it seems unusually slow, log out and try again later, sometimes speeds are much worse than others. Always be sure to log out properly! If not the cost will continue to rise. Buy a package if you expect to use much time. Many ships now have wifi in the cabins, so if you have a tablet, set up a remote account so you will not have to use the shared computers. The staff will assist you with this. When in port, find a McDonalds or Starbucks, or some other wifi locale, and get caught up at speeds you are accustomed to.
7) Cruise lines are now packaging many products. If you enjoy wine at dinner, a wine package may save you money. If you enjoy sampling the specialty restaurants, a package may save you money here too. Some cruise lines even offer discounted packages for shore excursions.
8) If you are a comfortable traveler, consider setting up your own shore excursions. Many are available for purchase at the pier, or can be set up in advance on the internet, or through your travel agent.