Q. What monetary currency is in use?

A.

Europe:

  • Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovenia, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain all use the Euro as their currency. One Euro is divided into 100 cents. Euro coins differ according to country, but bank notes are of uniform EU design.
  • Hungary’s currency is the forint, which is divided into 100 fillér (please note that fillér coins are no longer in circulation).
  • The Czech Republic’s currency is the koruna (Kc) or crown divided into 100 haler.
  • Morocco’s currency is called the dirham. It is a currency that has a couple of legal restrictions attached to it. You cannot take it abroad and cannot leave Morocco with it. Therefore you will not be able to obtain dirham before you leave on your trip. The best way to obtain Moroccan dirhams is through ATM’s. If you do not have a bank or credit card, the two most popular foreign currencies in Morocco are the US dollar and the Euro.

Please note: On your way home from Morocco, you cannot use your remaining dirhams to shop in the tax-free zone. The tax-free shops in Moroccan airports only accept Euros, US dollars and credit cards.

Asia & India:

  • China - Yuan, also known as Renminbi (RMB) is the official currency of China.
  • India - The unit of currency in India is the rupee, which is divided into 100 paise. Notes: (R) 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5; Coins: (R) 1, 2, 5 and (paise) 50, 25, 20, 10, 5
  • Vietnam - The unit of currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND).
  • Cambodia - The unit of currency is the Cambodian Riel (KHR).

Q. How much foreign money should I bring with me?

A.

Before you leave on your trip, it is a good idea to obtain a small amount of cash in the currency of the country you arrive in. If it is not possible to obtain the currency you require, then it can be purchased at the airport on arrival. Many locations will accept travellers cheques or credit cards. For incidentals and small vendors we recommend getting some local currency.

Asia & India:

Before you leave on your trip, it is important to try and obtain a small amount of foreign cash for your immediate use on day one of your tour and for use at the airports. Foreign currency can be purchased before you leave at major banks and international airports.

Please note: At present China is suffering from a rash of counterfeiting. Fake notes are usually produced with colour photocopiers and are easy to tell, as the paper feels different. A few years ago you were only likely to see fake 100 notes, but these days there are even fake 5 notes in circulation.

Q.  Are all credit cards accepted on all legs of the tour?

A.
  • Most credit cards charge a fee (about 3%) for currency exchange, which means that every time you use your credit card, you add this fee to the price of goods and services. Check with your credit card company before you go to see what their policy is. It may be worthwhile to take more than one type of credit card as not all types of credit cards are accepted.
  • Before travelling ensure your credit cards are valid for at least 30 days after the completion of the tour.
  • Due to increasing credit card fraud worldwide, be prepared to show identification (i.e. your passport) when making a transaction with your credit card. We recommend that you have a pin number for your credit cards, as many businesses now only accept payment with a pin.
  • Ask your credit card company for the emergency number (suitable for international access) to report loss.
  • Some shops and restaurants require a minimum purchase amount when using them.
  • It is recommended you contact your bank before leaving Canada to advise that you will be using your credit card overseas and to check that you can withdraw cash on your card abroad.

Europe:

EuroCard, MasterCard, Visa and American Express cards are accepted in all countries in major shops, restaurants and hotels as well as to settle your shipboard account.

Asia & India:

  • China - Most international credit cards (such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa) are accepted in most locations including all hotels, onboard the cruise ship, in major stores and restaurants. However, for incidentals, small vendors and local stores you will need local currency.
  • India - In many cities and towns, credit cards are accepted at retail chain stores and other restaurants and stores. Small businesses and family-run stores almost never accept credit cards, so it is useful to keep a moderate amount of cash on hand.
  • Vietnam and Cambodia - Most international credit cards (such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa) are accepted in most locations including all hotels, in major stores and restaurants. However, for incidentals, small vendors, markets and local stores you will need local currency.

Q. Is it easy to exchange cash?

A.

Europe:

You can exchange cash or travellers cheques at hotels, banks and exchange bureaus as well as small amounts of currency on board your ship for most local currencies, for a fee.

Asia & India:

  • India - Outside airports you can change your currency at any one of the numerous foreign exchange conversion units including banks. Some of the more common foreign exchange merchants are Travelex and Thomas Cook. There are no restrictions on the importation of foreign currency by tourists, provided a Declaration Form is completed on arrival. The import and export of the Rupee is, however, prohibited and may not be spent in Duty Free Shops or onboard aircraft. Receipts of all currency must be kept, as it may be reconverted on departure.
  • Vietnam and Cambodia - You can exchange cash and travellers cheques for local currency at hotels, banks and exchange bureaus. These establishments will charge a fee to exchange travellers cheques; some establishments may also charge a fee to exchange cash. Once you exchange your money in to the local currency, it can be a time consuming process to exchange it back in to Canadian currency before you depart. To do so, you will need all your receipts and the currency declaration form you completed when you arrived into the country. To avoid this, it is suggested that you plan your currency exchanges during your trip in order to have as little as possible remaining at the end of your trip.

 

Q. Are ATMs readily available?

A.

Yes, using a debit or credit card is becoming a popular method of obtaining money whilst travelling. In most cases, you pay only your usual bank fee rather than a commission, although this may vary depending on your bank’s policy. Generally, you will get the best available exchange rate as well. Be sure to check with your bank before departing to activate your card and don’t forget to bring your pin number. We suggest however that you don’t rely on ATM’s for all your spending money, as machines may be unreliable. The best idea is to take a mix of cards and travellers cheques so that you are always covered.

Asia & India:

  • India - In big cities there are now ATMs where you can get rupees against your international debit or credit card (maximum amount is 25,000 - 50,000 rupees, depending on the ATM). State Bank of India (SBI) is the biggest bank in India and has the most ATMs. ICICI Bank has the second largest network of ATMs and accepts most of the international cards at a nominal charge. International banks like Citibank, HSBC, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, ABN Amro and Standard Chartered have significant presence in major Indian cities. It is always worthwhile to have cards from at least two different providers.
  • Vietnam and Cambodia - Except in large cities, ATMs may not always be conveniently located. There is generally a service fee for using ATMs (approximately 3%).
  • Myanmar (Burma) - Credit cards are not accepted in Myanmar and there are no ATMs. You will only be able to use the cash that you bring with you into the country. Please be aware of this and ensure that you have enough cash on you for the duration of your tour.

Q.  Can I take travellers cheques or pre-paid travel money cards?

A.

Unless otherwise stated - Yes.

  • Travellers cheques are easily obtained from your bank. You will find it an advantage to have your travellers cheques in a currency that is easily exchanged such as US Dollars or Pounds Sterling.
  • Remember to make a separate note of all the numbers and denominations of your travellers cheques as well as an emergency contact phone number (suitable for international access, not those starting with 0800) in case of loss or theft.
  • It is worth carrying some cheques in small denominations as it may be difficult to cash larger cheques in hotels and shops. Travellers cheques can be changed at your hotel and some local banks. Many banks charge a set rate, so it could be worth your while cashing more money, less often. Banks usually offer a better rate of exchange than hotels, restaurants and large shops.

Please note that travellers cheques are becoming harder to cash while credit and ATM cards are becoming more readily available and there are also the options of money cards pre-loaded with foreign currency. Scenic cruise ships are unable to accept Cash Passports, Travelex Cards or similar as they do not have a function to refund on these cards.

Asia & India:

Yes. You can also purchase prepaid travel money cards.  

Q. Does Scenic cover tips?

A.

Yes, Scenic has pre-paid certain tips and gratuities for you, including all drivers, local guides, porters (1 piece of luggage only), and meals included in your tour.

Please note: Tipping is NOT included for meals, drinks, taxis and transfers that are not included as part of the tour (including Asian stopovers). As a guide for taxis, tip 10-15% of the fare on the meter. We recommend you pre-negotiate taxi fares to avoid unpleasant surprises at the end of the journey. In restaurants and bars, tip 10-15% of the total bill. If a service charge has already been added there is no need to tip as much or at all.

Asia & India:

Yes, tips are included for the following:

  • Local guides and coach drivers in each city
  • Meals included on tour
  • Porterage in each hotel

Q.  Is there any tipping protocol to follow in any of the countries visited?

A.

Europe:

  • Morocco - hotels and restaurants usually include a service charge of 15%, but it is customary to include an additional 5 dirham per person for the waiter. Waiters in proper restaurants are always tipped up to 10% of the bill. At informal cafes, the tip is normally two or three dirham per person. Tip porters 5 dirham per piece of luggage.
  • Spain and Portugal - as a guide for taxis, tip 10-15% of the fare on the meter. In restaurants and bars, tip 10-15% of the total bill. If a service charge has already been added there is no need to tip as much or at all. For others such as porters, tip in proportion to the level of services rendered. You should tip doormen and concierges between €2-3.

Asia & India:

  • India - Visitors are not to be expected to tip taxi drivers. However, hotel, airport and train station porters should be tipped approximately Rs20 per bag. In restaurants, if the service was good, tip anything between approximately 5-10 % of the bill.
  • Vietnam and Cambodia - The attitude towards tipping in Vietnam and Cambodia is changing rapidly, tips are now frequently offered for services in the tourism industry and in many cases supplement wages for people who work in various customer service areas such as local guides, porters in hotels and coach drivers. However, tipping is still not expected in most restaurants.

If you are uncertain ask your Tour Director or your local guide whether a tip is necessary and how much. Sometimes, small gifts are a good idea when meeting and interacting with the locals.

Q.   What hours are most shops open?

A.

Europe:

Stores may close earlier than back home and are usually not open on Sundays (nor Saturday afternoons in some places).

Q.  Are there any taxes on shopping?

A.

Many countries have a national sales tax (called VAT) that is levied on most goods and services. In some cases and with the proper documentation from the point-of-purchase, it is possible to have a portion of this tax refunded to you on items taken out of a country in unused condition. Depending upon flight schedules and timing, it may be possible to receive a refund by applying at the airport kiosk before departure.

Q. How should I deal with hawkers and retailers?

A.

You will experience many retailers, hawkers and taxi operators engaging you in conversation to continually offer their services. Be prepared for the need to politely decline these offers, on a regular basis, if they are not required. You may be approached by locals offering to show you interesting features, so be prepared that you will be asked for a tip if you accept their offer.

Q. Is bargaining acceptable practice?

A.

Bargaining is not acceptable practice except for in the countries listed below:

Asia & India:

In India you are expected to negotiate the price with street hawkers, but not in department stores. If not, you risk overpaying. Packaged goods show the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) right on the package. This includes taxes. Retailers are not supposed to charge more than this. Though this rule is adhered to at most places, at tourist destinations or remote places, you may be charged more.

Q. What sort of souvenirs can I buy and what should I be aware of?

A.

Please go to the Canadian Custom and Border Protection website for the most accurate and up to date information on any restrictions on products imported from each country.