I am going on a cruise on the Baltic Sea. I wonder if I should take at least a small amount of local currency with me in case there is not a working ATM at the docks. The countries include Russia, Denmark and Sweden.
ATM are plentiful in Denmark and Sweden. No experience with Russian ATMs. However, unless you have a visa for Russia you will not be allowed off the ship unless it is with a ship tour so you don't have much need for local currency. When we were there we found that they would take US dollars for a few small items. I am sure the exchange rate was poor but we just bargained in dollars.
When we cruise, I prefer to take small amounts of local currency with me. You don't say (in your profile) where you live; however, in my city, I either order the currency through my bank (it arrives in about 4 business days), or I go to a local retail currency exchange (which has slightly better rates than my bank) and buy the cash directly for a small fee.
Depending on the size of your ship/number of passengers disembarking for shore excursions or independent touring, you may not want to waste time looking for/or standing in line at an ATM in the port buildings upon arrival in each location. For your specific Baltic cruise itinerary, you may wish to consider Russian RUB, Denmark DKK, Sweden SEK, Norway NOK, and Euros, etc. to make small purchases (Note: some vendors do not accept credit cards for very small purchases).
Also, you could ask your cruise line (now) if they have self-serve currency exchange machines on your ship - I noticed them on several ships we were on last year in Europe. At the end of the cruise, if we have a few local coins left over, I leave them for our stateroom steward.
I did not get local currency on my Baltic cruise and didn't have a problem. If worse comes to worse you can usually get it on the ship. Also, neither my ATM or Visa worked in Russia ( which I was aware of) as many US banks don't allow usage due to fraud problems, check with your bank first! I didn't have rubles, but what little I bought I was able to use Euros. I wouldn't bother with local currency. Have fun!
The Scandinavian countries are almost a cash free society, with ATM cards used for just about everything. Coming off a ship for 8 hours, I don't recall even using any local currency. And I was thinking Estonia was like Germany--using the Euro.
The tour company we used in St. Petersburg didn't include lunch, however the cafeteria they took us to accepted credit cards. Any cash we needed for trinkets, etc., our tour guide gave us, and they put it on our bill when we paid at the end.
Scandinavia is deadly expensive for food and accomodations, and I think you'll find the cruise ships are by far the most economical way to see this fabulous region.
My information is from 2009, when I was on a cruise. Russia was a hassle because my friends and I went into St. Petersburg on our own, so we had to pay for taxis and entrances fees as well as incidentals. It was against Russian law to take rubles out of the country so there was no way to buy them in advance. We paid for taxis and souvenirs with dollars and used credit cards for entrance fees. I got rubles from an ATM inside the Hermitage (we were desperate for drinks and a snack at their cafeteria which didn't accept foreign currency or credit cards). We paid for dinner at a restaurant with credit cards.
I don't remember any problems in Denmark or Sweden so I got local currency either on the ship or at an ATM near the port. If I had small amounts left, I used them for staff tips at the end of the cruise.
We did a cruise to Russia in 2015. If it's against the law to take Rubles out it's not well enforced. I have some in a drawer now :)
That said the ATM at the port was our ONLY problem on the entire stay. (we got off the ship and stayed in a hotel in St. Petersburg overnight) The taxi did take dollars but it cost a LOT more getting to the city than getting back to the port LOL!
If you are brave enough to deal with the visa touring St. Petersburg on your own is doable and I am glad we did it. We crammed a LOT into our two days!
In 2011 we did a baltic cruise. We did get some money ahead of time for a few of the countries, but really we didn't need to. First of all, our credit cards were accepted everywhere. We used the ATM in Copenhagen and Russia with no problems. In Russia, we had told our tour guide to let us know when we were near an ATM that we could use. She pointed one out in one of the museums for us to use. However, like said here, they take US dollars and maybe prefer them because they can make the exchange rate in their favor. I also used a cc in Russia with no problems. We had such a short time in Sweden as the port our ship used was an hour bus ride from Stockholm that we had purchased Swedish Kroner's ahead of time. There was no need for that as ATM's were everywhere and we could have used our cc there too.