What Do I Need Cash For? 10 Reasons To Have Cash In Hand On A Cruise

Cruise ships strive to be a cashless society. We might eventually get to that point in the rest of the world, but it still makes sense to bring cash when setting sail on vacation.

Here are 10 reasons you want cash in hand:

  1. Paying the cab driver. You took a taxi to the pier. That nice driver lugged those huge roller bags into and out of their trunk. You will want to both pay and top them. You don’t see the need. You are planning on using Uber or Lyft. That makes sense if you travel from home to the pier. If you land at JFK in New York and join the crowd outside the terminal, you are likely taking a taxi to the pier.
  2. Tipping the baggage handlers. This might vary from port to port. If someone wearing an ID badge on a cord around their neck takes your bags, it makes good sense to give them a little something. I’m sure the tear I had in one of our bags when they reached our cabin had nothing to do with my ignoring my own advice.
  3. Tipping your cabin steward. At the end of the trip, it’s customary to take care of the people who looked after you. Maybe your fare included tipping. If not, then it’s a daily automatic charge to your shipboard account. You still want to hand something over in a little white envelope. When we travel, we always assume we will see these people again.
  4. Tipping the restaurant staff. The same logic applies in the dining room. We add on the section captain, maître d’ and the wine steward. We might see them on a future voyage, especially the higher ups.
  5. Drinks in the bar. Personally, I think a tip line below the automatic service charge on your bar receipt is annoying. Isn’t the service charge the tip? If not, then what is it?  To remove feelings of guilt, having singles and fives allows you to add a little something extra when you pay your bar tab on each visit.
  6. Gambling. You might see this from a different perspective. Let’s find out. I think buying chips with a credit card or shipboard account is a bad idea, because the money is abstract. It doesn’t look or feel like real money if you are just signing a chit. Don’t believe me? Review your credit card statement and pay attention to restaurant charges. “I spent how much?”  Better to have some cash (not a lot) for gambling. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
  7. The tour bus driver. Most excursions end with “thank you and we accept tips.” As you file off the bus, back at the ship, it’s nice to drop something in the tip jar.
  8. Shipboard charities. You might attend religious services at sea. The collection plate is passed regardless if there is land or water beneath you. You want to put something into the plate. The ship might have a piggy bank in the shape of a plastic lifeboat. Contributions support a worthy charity.
  9. Incidentals on shore. This might require local currency, but the ship should be able to convert some cash for you. You buy stamps at the post office. You need more shampoo. You buy souvenirs. You are taking a taxi back to the ship.  You need some walking around money. One time we docked in Southampton and after taking the shuttle bus into town, I discovered I left my wallet aboard the ship. That’s when I really felt naked!  I might not plan on buying anything, but not having any money isn’t a good feeling.
  10. Ship to airport transfers. Your trip is over. You’ve bought the airport transfer, simply because it’s money well spent. The nice uniformed person hauled your heavy cases once again. You want to give them something.

There are many instances when you might not need cash because a charge card will suffice. The more exotic the locale, the more concerned you should be when it comes to sharing credit card details.


Cover photo: Cruise ship at Key West’s Mallory Square with schooner on sunset cruise in background ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews

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