Cruise ships with money

7 Things to Always Pay for in Cash on a Cruise

Cruising has become convenient with the shift to cashless transactions, you technically don’t need to bring cash since everything can be charged to your cruise card, including gratuities. No more tipping the cruise staff with envelopes! However, it’s still smart to bring some cash on board. Here’s why and what I always pay for in cash when I go on a cruise.

Things to Pay in Cash on a Cruise

1. Buying Souvenirs at Straw Markets

I always make sure to have cash on hand when I go souvenir shopping at the straw markets in the Caribbean cruise ports. These markets are filled with vendors selling all sorts of souvenirs, and most of them only accept cash. 

It’s important that when you are haggling, you and the vendor are clear about what currency you will be paying, whether it’s the local currency or US dollars. 

Keep in mind that if you pay in US dollars, you’ll likely get change in the local currency. Bring small US dollar bills so you don’t get stuck with a lot of local currency.

Things to Pay in Cash on a Cruise

2. Paying for Public Transportation

If you’re taking the bus at the local cruise ports, the bus driver might only accept cash. That’s why it’s important to always have small change on hand—you never know when you need it!

For example, during a shore excursion to Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, I didn’t have enough Euros to pay for my family of four to ride the bus that shuttles people from the welcome center to the Giant’s Causeway. I wasn’t expecting the shuttle bus to be excluded from my shore excursion package! I wish I had cash for times like this!

3. Paying at the Local Restaurant

Whenever I’m at a cruise port and eat at a local restaurant, I usually pay in cash if I have enough local currency. Even though these local restaurants accept credit cards, I still get nervous about my credit card information getting hacked. That’s why I always choose cash as my preferred method of payment. 

4. Paying the Taxi Driver

When I take a taxi at a cruise port, I always pay the taxi driver in cash. Many taxis don’t take credit cards and will only accept cash. 

Just make sure to confirm the cab fare first before getting in the taxi and make sure you confirm what currency you’ll be paying – US dollars or the local currency. 

Also, many cruise ports have signs listing taxi fares by destination. Take a picture of that and use it to negotiate cab fares with your taxi driver.

5. Paying to Use the Bathroom

In Europe, it’s common to have to pay to use public toilets, especially at tourist attractions and transportation hubs. That’s why you should always carry small change in case you need to use the bathroom. 

Even in free-to-use restrooms, there may be bathroom attendants. You will still need some cash since its customary to leave a small tip for their service, such as providing toilet paper.

Things to Pay in Cash on a Cruise

6. Buying Food from Street Vendors

I always pay in cash when I buy food and drinks from local street vendors, especially in the Caribbean. These vendors usually only accept cash and often don’t have credit card machines. It’s best to have small bills to make transactions easier. 

Be careful when you buy food from street vendors. I personally only buy packaged food and drink, so there is no tampering. I typically never buy street food from street vendors since I worry about getting sick. Check out my article: 11 Anti-Theft Cruise Tips that Every Cruiser Needs to Know

7. Tips

I always make sure to bring cash for tips, even though the cruise ship gratuity is automatically charged to my cruise account. I like to give extra cash tips to my main dining room servers and cabin steward. 

Also, I always have cash on hand to tip the porters at the cruise port and the tour guide at shore excursions. Check out the article I’ve written outlining the exact amounts I typically give in extra cash tips on a cruise.

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