Travel Blog
How much cash should we take on our cruise vacation?

A common question we get is "how much cash should we take onboard a Caribbean cruise?"  A disclaimer here, we are NOT big cash carrying people at any time.

Most all ports of call take U.S. Dollars, so I can't recommend that you go to the expense and bother of getting local currency.

We just got done figuring for our upcoming 7N cruise aboard the Carnival Breeze with 3 ports of call.  Here's what we came up with:

  • Porters/Drivers -- we figure $1/bag and round up to $5 denominations.  So, from 2-5 bags would be $5; 6-10 would be $10, etc.  If you're getting transfers from the airport to/from the pier, do the same calculations.
  • My wife likes the Piano Bar.  If the entertainer is good, she'll usually do about $5/night.
  • Your wait staff and room service staff can be anything from $0 - $20 per group.  Yes, they're covered in your gratuities already, but if you think they've been exemplary, an extra gratuity would be appreciated.
  • We're calling on Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.  These are all ports we've been to before, so we know the lay of the land.  Mo Bay and Cozumel are definitely taxi towns;  Grand Cayman not so much.  Most of these are flat rate fees and you can research these ahead of time.  Unless you're being really adventurous, I can't think of anywhere that $20 one way isn't the max.  Plus, lots of times the rate is based on 4 guests.  While standing in line, see if one of your cruise mates want to split a cab if you're going to relatively the same place.

Doing all this figuring, we're going to take about $200 in cash for our 7 night cruise.  We try to take too much vs. not enough, but there's ATM's onboard if we see we're going to run short.

Hope this helps.  What about you?  Tell us your calculations!



Port of Call: Aruba

Aruba has been a bucket list port of call for many years.  It's now checked, and we were very happy with the experience.

We did a Carnival Shore Excursion here, that didn't start until 4:30p (ship docked at 1:30p), so we headed out first and checked out the town and shops in the port.

 We ended up at  The Paddock Bar, which had a great view of the harbor and our ship, plus cold beer.  Menu looked OK, but we didn't sample.  Would definitely recommend it if you're wanting to stay around the ship.





Went back to the ship terminal to pick up our shore excursion, the Kukoo Kunuku Party Bus, which was the #1 rated excursion.  We really enjoyed it.  Stopped at five different bars, a rum punch drink at each, and dinner and a drink at one.  The drive from bar to bar was a hoot.  Maracas for each passenger, music blaring and at most round abouts, we went 360 at possibly more than the proper speed.  Bars were a little more for the "younger than us" age group, but the trips through the neighborhoods let us see quite a bit of the island. Would definitely recommend this excursion which was $89 per person.

Port of Call: Gran Turk


  This was our third time to Gran Turk.  It's a terrific private beach and pool party.  We were looking for more, so we decided to rent a golf cart and see the rest of the island.

Prior to arriving, I reserved a golf cart from Karib Golf Carts.  They had good ratings, and I found dealing with "Boogie" and his wife once we got there to be pleasant.  The cart we rode had some "oomph", so that was a bonus.

(A note if you're going to go this way, you will reserve a cart for $45 via PayPal;  you'll need $51 USD (the balance of the reservation and $6 for fuel costs) in cash once you get there.)

It's "just outside the gate", so it's a bit of a hike if you have someone in a chair.  Take the chair, and they'll store it for you.

Renting a golf cart and buzzing around the place isn't for everyone, and it definitely isn't something I would recommend at certain ports of call.  Having been to Gran Turk before, we felt pretty comfortable doing it.









Our first run was out to the lighthouse.  $3 admission if you want to go in.  Didn't seem like much, so we passed on it.

On the way out and the way back, we noticed they had stray, wild donkeys.  Not something you see everywhere.  Chickens, yes.  Donkeys?  Not so much.








We were told at the golf cart place to go to the big radio tower, which was the highest point on the island.  We did that on the way back.  The island is filled with beautiful homes, homes that have either been destroyed by storms or never finished, or homes that are a bit impoverished.  We never felt "unsafe".  

Met some people in golf carts at one of the stops and asked them where they stopped for lunch.  They mentioned Conchy Joe's and Barbie's, which was also the two places that a tour guide at the light house mentioned.  We went to Conchy Joe's and it was a bit of a let down.  Two tour busses had just stopped there and they were pretty overwhelmed.  Changed our minds and just tried to get two local beers which we accomplished.  The view was very good.

Drove around a bit more, then headed back to the party at Margaritaville outside the ship.  After a couple of Landsharks and a little shopping, we hopped back aboard the Carnival Vista and had lunch.

If you've visited Gran Turk more than once, I would recommend going the golf cart (over one of the tour busses for sure) route.  However, now that we've done it, I probably wouldn't do it again.  Opt for the beach.

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