Money, Tipping & Shopping FAQ


Q.

What monetary currency is in use across Europe?

 
A.

 

  • 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.

 

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.

Q.

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

 
A.

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. Before travelling ensure your credit cards are valid for at least 30 days after the completion of the tour. We recommend that you have a pin number for your credit cards, as many businesses now only accept payment with a pin. Also 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. Due to increasing credit card fraud worldwide, be prepared to show identification (i.e. your passport) when making a transaction with your credit card. 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.

Q.

Is it easy to exchange cash?

 
A.

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.

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.

Q.

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

 
A.

Yes and they can be 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 and pre-paid travel money cards can be loaded with the currencies of the destinations you are travelling to. Remember to make a separate note of all the numbers and denominations of your travellers cheques as well as an international emergency contact phone number 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 or a local bank. 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: 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.

Q.

Does Scenic Tours cover tips?

 
A.

Yes, Scenic Tours 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.

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.

 

Canada, Alaska & USA

Tipping in both Canada and Alaska is a customary practice to show appreciation for the service received, and many employees rely on tipping for their income. Tipping is voluntary and on an individual basis. Tipping is customary for the following expenses:

 

South America & Antarctica:

Tipping in South America is a customary practice to show appreciation for the service received.

Asia & India:

 

 

  • Restaurants - tip 15% of the total bill before tax has been added
  • Hotels – Leave $1 to $2 per person for housekeeping staff
  • Coaches - For one-off transfers (i.e. from the hotel to the train station or the pier) a $2 per bag tip is appropriate for the driver moving your luggage on and off the coach
  • Taxis - 15% of the bill
  • Porters - $2 per bag each way for porters in hotels, railways and airports

    Oceania:

    Tipping is becoming more widespread especially in restaurants. Although you don't need to tip you may like to show appreciation for excellent service when eating out on your own or at the end of your tour to the Tour Director and Coach Captain.

    • China - The attitude towards tipping in China 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.
    • Yangtze River Cruise - The suggested amount for shipboard staff is approximately $7-$10 per passenger per day, which will be distributed among the ship's staff and shore excursion guides, and $3-$5 per person per day for the Cruise Manager. Additional tipping is at the passengers' discretion. This should be placed in an envelope and given to the Reception Desk at the end of your voyage.
    • 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).

South America & Antarctica:

 

  • Peru - Shops are typically open Monday to Saturday 09.00-18.00 with some stores open as late as 23.00.
  • Brazil - Shops are typically open Monday-Friday 10.00-18:30 and Saturday 10.00-18.00 and most department stores remain open until 22.00. Some boutiques, particularly in tourist areas, are open on Sundays.
  • Argentina - Shops are typically open Monday-Friday 09.00-19.30 and Saturday 09.00-13.00.
  • Chile - Shops are typically open Monday-Friday 10.00-20.00 and Saturday 10.00-14.00. Shopping centres are also open Sundays from 10.00-21.00.

 

Africa:

Shops are generally open from 8.00 to 17.00, Monday to Friday although some stay open until 19.00, and on Saturdays from 8.00 to 13. 00, although some stay open till 17.00.

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.

What are the customs allowances on return to Australia?

 
A.

Apart from personal effects, returning travellers over 18 years of age are allowed to bring into Australia the following goods duty free:

 

  • Alcohol – 2.25 litres
  • Cigarettes and Tobacco – 250 grams or 50 cigars
  • Other articles up to a total combined value of AUD$900 are free of duty and tax, but goods in excess of this may attract both.

 

Q.

What do I need to be aware of relating to foreign customs?

 
A.

All countries you will visit have laws against the purchase and export of certain items, including antiquities, national cultural property and certain animal products, especially endangered species (ivory, rhino horn, tortoise shell, coral, feathers, etc.). Additionally, Australia has laws prohibiting the import of certain items, which include many of the same things. You face having your purchase confiscated and/or heavy fines for exporting or importing prohibited items. On departure from Europe and on return to Australia, your luggage is subject to search.