I am leaving Monday for a fully guided group tour that will start with 2 days in Warsaw, 2 days in Krakow, 1 day in Budapest, then we'll have a 7-night Danube River cruise. I'll be in six different countries on this 12 night trip. Three are on the Euro (Germany, Austria and Slovakia). But Poland has zloty and Hungary has forint and the Czech Republic has Czech koruna.
I hadn't given much thought to tipping until last evening, so I looked at the travel documents from the tour company to see what was said. They list suggested amounts per person per day for the tour manager and bus driver for the land part of the trip, and different suggested amounts per person per day for the cruise director and activity host for the Danube river week. And there is also a suggested daily amount for the crew on the boat, which will be split among all of them. That gratuity for the crew can either be paid in cash or can be put on your onboard account. (But you can't tip your cruise director or activity host using a charge on the onboard account. . .those are cash only, to be handed to the recipient.) They also give suggested amounts for tipping any local guides. They'll be used in some of the cities.
They didn't say anything about the bus driver who will take us on optional excursions during the Danube River part of the tour. I assume it's not the same bus driver we'll have for the first five days on land in Poland and Hungary, but I guess it might be. They said nothing about tipping for the transport van driver for the ride to/from the airport that's part of our tour package.
The only comment that there's "no need to tip" applied to wait staff for included meals and luggage porters.
The materials said "gratuities may be paid in the local currency or in US dollar equivalent where accepted." Well what does that mean? How do I know in advance where US dollars are "accepted?" As far as I know, paying in US dollars isn't going to be useful to any local guides we may have. It won't be useful to our tour manager or cruise director or activity host unless they happen to be American. Should I assume I can tip any of the tour company employees in US dollars and the tour company will help them convert the money to something they can use? What currency should I put in the envelope for the money that's being split among all the crew? I assume US dollars is fine, that the tour company is going to take all that money, add it up, and give each crew member his/her share of it as part of their paycheck.
For local guides, the suggested amount is $2 to $3 USD. Shall I plan to have some coins in the local currency of each country we are visiting, for this purpose, or if I get lazy and don't want to do conversions, or take the steps to have the right coins on me, is it workable for them to receive USD? Would that be considered rude?
Any comments would be appreciated.