You will be able to pay for wine and optional tours with your credit card on the ship. You can open the tab once you board and close it when you disembark from the ship. Please note, they do not accept American Express in Russia, so make sure that you have a Visa or MasterCard with you. Even though your credit card will be accepted on the ship, please do not expect it to be accepted everywhere on the ground. If you want to buy souvenirs when your ship docks in one of the smaller towns along the way you will probably need cash for that. And don't expect that there will be any ATMs along the river.
There are many ATMs and banks in large cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg and you can use your debit card to withdraw cash in US dollars, Russian rubles or Euros. We recommend making withdrawals in Russian rubles so you won't need to worry about exchanging currency. ATMs offer an an exchange rate that is very close to the official rate.
It’s a good idea to have some cash with you in case if you need to take a cab or to make a small purchase. The rate of Russian ruble today (Feb 8, 2010) is 30 rubles for 1 US dollar. This translates into 3,000 rubles for $100. We recommend that you have from 2,000 to 10,000 you at any given moment. Anything more is not really justified as prices are not so high. Even if you decide to go to an expensive restaurant you can use your credit/debit card to pay for it. Most restaurants accept credit cards, but we recommend that you ask them in advance to avoid surprises.
You don’t have to exchange dollars to rubles as dollars are widely circulated in Russia. If you prefer to pay with Russian rubles, just ask your cruise director or guide about arranging a currency exchange for you.
Important: please call your bank before your departure and let them know that you will be traveling to Russia, so they do not block your cards while you are in Russia (not all banks do this, but we recommend that you look into this). We also recommend that you bring more than one card (but not all) in case if one of the cards gets locked. And, if you do encounter a situation when all your cards are blocked, please contact our emergency number and we will organize cash delivery for you.