Eli Orzessek finds the answers to your travel questions.

I'm looking at booking a cruise, but I've noticed that sometimes the adverts have the pricing in USD or other currencies - why is this? What currency is most commonly used on board to purchase drinks, etc?

I asked my contact, Sam, at Cruise Connections how to get the best deal when booking in other currencies.

"A cruise agent will buy cruises from a variety of different cruise lines, sometimes even buying through a wholesaler in Australia to secure a better offer," she says.

"As these cruise lines are largely based overseas, their pricing is usually set in the main currency that they trade in, for example USD, GBP, and more often they are now pricing fares in AUD.


"We are often disadvantaged if cruise lines give us NZD pricing, as they have to buffer their exchange rates so much (for fluctuations) that our clients end up paying a lot more than they would if they bought in the original currency."

Onboard currency is usually based on where the ship travelled from, while cruise lines in our waters tend to use Australian dollars.

"Always ask your travel agent to confirm what the currency is on board before you sail so you have an idea of what to take with you or pre-load your card if you have this option.
"Most cruise lines have an account summary available on your TV in your cabin or go to the cashier desk and ask for a statement to be printed. Keep track of your on board account and deal with any discrepancies earlier than on disembarkation day!"

Readers respond

Helen wrote in to respond to Kate's questions on tours for solo travellers [Travel, May 9].
"She's looking for a tour for single people providing one room for each of them every night. A lot of us are. Is there such a thing?"

As I mentioned, many companies offer quite generous solo supplement discounts - even up to 100 per cent. You'll just need to keep an eye out for them, read the fine print, and better yet, ask a travel agent as they always know what deals are around.

Ken Morgan from Melbourne-based Two's a Crowd (twosacrowd.com.au) also wrote in to suggest his company, which caters to solo travellers 40 and up. All clients have their own room or cabin and they keep single supplements low. They also charter cruise ships.

However, reader David Holland has experience of sharing rooms on many tours and wrote in to argue the case.

"I have found this great and have made some great friends as a consequence. Going to North Korea, I had a Frenchman [same age as me] for three weeks who couldn't speak a word of English. My schoolboy French long deserted, we got our systems organised and got on fine - still communicate today. Going to the North Pole, I roomed with a Russian with an incredible background, totally opposite to me but we still talk about once every three months and met in Moscow two years later, where he showed me around places that no tourist goes. I went to Wrangel Island with a German who was to have his first child at 57; Iran with an Australian a little older who travels a lot. Have your systems, have your boundaries and there should not be a problem."

Extra charges come from hotels, not the tour groups. I've been booking rooms for a trip to Tokyo next week and I'm staying in capsule hotels to save money. But I love to travel alone, so for me, it's worth it. It's my first time there, so I'm keen for suggestions on the Japanese capital.

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