16th Jan 2014
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Cruising currency
Author: Joanna Hall
Cruising currency
Image credit: Shutterstock

Gloria is lucky enough to be heading off on a cruise but isn’t sure if it’s better to be billed in $AU or $US. Cruising expert Jo Hall offers her advice.

Q. Gloria
We are going on a cruise on the Voyager of the Seas and all the onboard prices are quoted in USD. We would like to know if it would be better to pay our account in American or Australian dollars.
 

A. Provided by Jo Hall, CruiseGuide.com.au 

Yes, Voyager of the Seas does operate in US dollars. 

If you’re planning to pay by credit card for onboard purchases, meaning settling your onboard account, you may be asked at the end of the cruise if you want the amount to be billed to your credit card in US or Australian dollars.  Which is better often depends on the exchange rate at the time, and also which bank has issued your credit card - they all vary a bit regarding exchange rates and charges. I would say the safest bet would be to ask to be billed in Australian dollars as it may avoid conversion charges.

If you’re planning to settle your account using cash, however, you will be asked to place a deposit on your account before sailing. There is a daily limit on cash accounts, Royal Caribbean state this as US$500.00 for seven-plus night sailings and US$300.00 for 2/3/4/5 night sailings. Once the daily cash limit is reached, the guest will be advised that the limit has been reached. 

It will be worthwhile clarifying that the ship will accept the deposit in Australian dollars, if this is your preference. You should also avoid using the ATMs onboard the ship, as the charges for withdrawing money are considerably higher than using a bank onshore before you depart.

Personally I prefer to settle accounts using a credit card for a number of reasons. Besides collecting frequent flyer miles, if there's a dispute over any charges, you can often get help resolving from the issuing bank, Mastercard, Visa or Amex.

To find out more about cruising or to find the cruise of your dreams within your budget, visit CruiseGuide.com.au.





    COMMENTS

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    gxh
    22nd Jan 2014
    1:01pm
    Sorry to be troublesome, but if the original account is in USD and you're offered the opportunity to have it billed to your credit card in AUS, it's almost always better to have it charged to your credit card in the original currency (in this case, USD). What's being offered is called "dynamic currency conversion". The effect is that the conversion at the point of sale is at a rate set by the merchant or its bank, which almost invariably will be less favourable that the conversion rate applied to normal credit card transaction.
    But in addition to this, your bank, that is the one that issued the credit card, will often impose a margin on the overseas transaction just because it occurred overseas, even though it's in AUD. So you can end up paying the conversion margin twice.
    Jude
    23rd Jan 2014
    6:19am
    The other option is to make an estimate of what you expect to spend and exchange your currency to USD before you go, either at your bank or local post office. You then deposit your money to your shipboard account. This way you have a one-off transaction fee when you first exchange your money and it is easier to keep tabs on your on-board expenditure. It is better to have a bit more than you think you will need, as you will be paid out in cash at the end of the cruise. If you have funds left take it in USD, unless it is just a small amount. On a Rhapsody cruise about three years my only complaint was the exchange rate they gave- at a time when the Aussie dollar was higher than the USD Rhapsody only gave around 96c, quite a bit lower. When we discovered this, those of our group with funds left asked for USD then exchanged again at the bank.


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