10 Ports Where Dollars Go Further This Summer

by Donna Heiderstadt

10 Ports Where Dollars Go Further This Summer

by Donna Heiderstadt

Everyone loves snagging a bargain cruise. But an unfavorable exchange rate could mean you end up spending a lot more than you anticipated on sightseeing and dining while in port. Luckily, the dollar’s strength against some major world currencies means there are places offering good value to Americans planning to cruise this summer. Here are 10 appealing ports where your dollar will go further.

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Sydney Harbour / iStock / Siwawut
Downtown Vancouver
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Vancouver, Canada

Not only is this beautiful Pacific Northwest city a gateway to Inside Passage cruises to Alaska, but it’s also a great place to spend a few days pre- or post-cruise. And the weakness of the Canadian dollar (about $1.35 Canadian dollars to $1 in early June, or about 10 percent lower than a year ago) means you can eat the city’s incredibly fresh seafood or shop its eclectic boutiques — and be happy when you see the exchanged prices on your credit card bill.

Not only is this beautiful Pacific Northwest city a gateway to Inside Passage cruises to Alaska, but it’s also a great place to spend a few days pre- or post-cruise. And the weakness of the Canadian dollar (about $1.35 Canadian dollars to $1 in early June, or about 10 percent lower than a year ago) means you can eat the city’s incredibly fresh seafood or shop its eclectic boutiques — and be happy when you see the exchanged prices on your credit card bill.

Horseback riding in Cabo San Lucas
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Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

While the dollar reached its peak against the Mexican peso in January (when it approached 22 pesos to $1), as we head into summer it’s hovering around 18.5 to one, which still makes Mexico a terrific deal for cruisers. If cerveza (beer) is your thing, Cabo’s two-for-one happy hour specials will stretch your savings even more. Plus, paying for independent tours in pesos (versus dollars when booking onboard excursions) can knock prices down substantially.

While the dollar reached its peak against the Mexican peso in January (when it approached 22 pesos to $1), as we head into summer it’s hovering around 18.5 to one, which still makes Mexico a terrific deal for cruisers. If cerveza (beer) is your thing, Cabo’s two-for-one happy hour specials will stretch your savings even more. Plus, paying for independent tours in pesos (versus dollars when booking onboard excursions) can knock prices down substantially.

Lisbon
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Lisbon, Portugal

Say hello to beautiful tiled alleyways, colorful architecture, and a rich food scene. The entire euro zone has been a relative bargain for the past two years as the exchange rate stood around $1 to 1.12 €, and while the euro is now strengthening a bit, the Portuguese capital remains a good deal. Prices are generally lower here than other major European cities — and there's a beauty and charm that many Americans have yet to discover.

Say hello to beautiful tiled alleyways, colorful architecture, and a rich food scene. The entire euro zone has been a relative bargain for the past two years as the exchange rate stood around $1 to 1.12 €, and while the euro is now strengthening a bit, the Portuguese capital remains a good deal. Prices are generally lower here than other major European cities — and there's a beauty and charm that many Americans have yet to discover.

The Royal Mile
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Edinburgh, Scotland

The Brexit vote last summer sent the British pound tumbling to its lowest point in more than a decade (1.20 pounds to $1), and a year later (at around 1.28 to the dollar), it remains well below its mid-2015 value of 1.58. That makes it a great time to visit the Scottish capital and stock up on some high-quality woolens (or even a traditional kilt in your family’s clan colors if you’re of Scottish descent) and sample plenty of single-malt whisky.

The Brexit vote last summer sent the British pound tumbling to its lowest point in more than a decade (1.20 pounds to $1), and a year later (at around 1.28 to the dollar), it remains well below its mid-2015 value of 1.58. That makes it a great time to visit the Scottish capital and stock up on some high-quality woolens (or even a traditional kilt in your family’s clan colors if you’re of Scottish descent) and sample plenty of single-malt whisky.

Basel on the Rhine
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Basel, Switzerland

Switzerland has a well-deserved reputation for being expensive, so anyone planning a river cruise that begins or ends in this pretty city on the Rhine will be happy to know that the Swiss franc has spent most of the past two years within a few cents of the U.S. dollar. In early June it was trading almost even with the dollar versus a high of 1.16 in early 2015. That means prices, while just slightly cheaper, are easy to convert when you’re ordering fondue or satisfying your sweet tooth with some Swiss chocolate.

Switzerland has a well-deserved reputation for being expensive, so anyone planning a river cruise that begins or ends in this pretty city on the Rhine will be happy to know that the Swiss franc has spent most of the past two years within a few cents of the U.S. dollar. In early June it was trading almost even with the dollar versus a high of 1.16 in early 2015. That means prices, while just slightly cheaper, are easy to convert when you’re ordering fondue or satisfying your sweet tooth with some Swiss chocolate.

Caminito in La Boca
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Buenos Aires, Argentina

As the exchange rate has settled in at 14 to 16 Argentine pesos to $1 since early 2016 (up from five to 10 pesos to the dollar during the previous three years), the city known as the Paris of South America is more affordable than ever before. It’s especially enticing for cruisers who enjoy a good steak or are interested in shopping for gold and emerald jewelry.

As the exchange rate has settled in at 14 to 16 Argentine pesos to $1 since early 2016 (up from five to 10 pesos to the dollar during the previous three years), the city known as the Paris of South America is more affordable than ever before. It’s especially enticing for cruisers who enjoy a good steak or are interested in shopping for gold and emerald jewelry.

The Hungarian Parliament Building
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Budapest, Hungary

The Hungarian forint has settled back to around 275 Hungarian forint to $1 (after hitting almost 300 HUF in late 2016), but even with its strengthening the currency still offers value for Americans looking to explore this historic city on a Danube River cruise. Prices here are significantly lower than in Western European cities, making it a wonderful destination for music- and spa-loving cruisers. There’s a cool wine bar scene, too.

The Hungarian forint has settled back to around 275 Hungarian forint to $1 (after hitting almost 300 HUF in late 2016), but even with its strengthening the currency still offers value for Americans looking to explore this historic city on a Danube River cruise. Prices here are significantly lower than in Western European cities, making it a wonderful destination for music- and spa-loving cruisers. There’s a cool wine bar scene, too.

Taverna Meal
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Heraklion on Crete, Greece

Generally less pricey than its more glamorous sister isles, Santorini and Mykonos, the largest of the Greek islands offers even better value this summer as the euro starts the season at about 1.12 € to $1 and the Greek economy continues to face challenges. Cretan cuisine is healthful and delicious, the island’s beaches are some of the best in Greece, and the 4,000-year-old Minoan Palace at Knossos is not to be missed.

Generally less pricey than its more glamorous sister isles, Santorini and Mykonos, the largest of the Greek islands offers even better value this summer as the euro starts the season at about 1.12 € to $1 and the Greek economy continues to face challenges. Cretan cuisine is healthful and delicious, the island’s beaches are some of the best in Greece, and the 4,000-year-old Minoan Palace at Knossos is not to be missed.

Stortorget Square
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Stockholm, Sweden

While the Swedish krona has strengthened in recent months (from 9.2 Swedish krona to $1 to around 8.7 krona in early June), the currency is still much weaker than it was three or four years ago when it hovered in the six to seven krona to the dollar range. That means this traditionally expensive Scandinavian capital is a bit more approachable for cruisers on a budget — although food and drink prices can still elicit sticker shock.

While the Swedish krona has strengthened in recent months (from 9.2 Swedish krona to $1 to around 8.7 krona in early June), the currency is still much weaker than it was three or four years ago when it hovered in the six to seven krona to the dollar range. That means this traditionally expensive Scandinavian capital is a bit more approachable for cruisers on a budget — although food and drink prices can still elicit sticker shock.

Sydney Opera House
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Sydney, Australia

With an exchange rate of around 75 cents to $1 Australian dollar, the country’s largest and most famous city is much easier on the wallet than it's been in recent years. For example: The Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb adventure, which gives you a thrilling bird’s eye view of the Opera House and harbor, is priced at $158 Australian dollars — meaning it will only cost American cruisers about $117.

With an exchange rate of around 75 cents to $1 Australian dollar, the country’s largest and most famous city is much easier on the wallet than it's been in recent years. For example: The Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb adventure, which gives you a thrilling bird’s eye view of the Opera House and harbor, is priced at $158 Australian dollars — meaning it will only cost American cruisers about $117.

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