A few simple questions: In Spain & Italy are men allowed to wear shorts (decent ones) in churches? What about jean pants? We will be leaving next week On Voyager of the Seas. Also is there a service charge on the ship if you cash Euro Traveller's cheques (Amex)? Finally if one decides to stay on the ship in port will there be organized activities?
While "no shorts" is the stated policy at some churches and cathedrals, the only places I've ever seen it enforced is at mosks; and they provided wrap-arounds to cover the legs. No problem with jeans anyplace I've been.
There will be activities on the ship while in port; just not as many as on sea days.
I don't know about a service charge for cashing foreign travelers' checks on RCI, but the exchange rate will be less than favorable.
I can't speak for Spain, but having just come back from Italy, I can say that they allow shorts if they are long enough to cover your knees. The basic rules are knees covered and shoulders covered for both men and women. Most places provided wraps for the women, but if you are wearing a short sleeved t shirt you are ok.
Unless you can't get US dollar traveler's checks, I would suggest bring some for use on the ship and and travel portion within the US before/after the cruise. The ship uses dollars and while they have a currency exchange desk that would allow you to exchange your Euro checks, like Rick said, the exchange rate will "steal" some money from you. But, most of the time you can use your on board account on the ship and the crew will glady accept tips in Euro's so you wouldn't need many dollars. So you only need enough dollars for the casino (unless you don't mind getting advances on your account). So you can judge if you wish to bother getting two types of checks or not.
I am going to make a case here against even having Euro Travelers Checks. Keep in mind that TCs have now become pretty much obsolete, since most folks simply use a combination of ATMs and credit cards. But, buying Euro TCs may sound like a good idea until you look carefully at the cost. You will not get a very good exchange rate when you buy those Euro TCs in the states, plus you will generally pay a fee of 1 or 2 %. If you fail to use all those TCs, you will have to eventually convert them back to dollars and take another hit. If you must buy TCs you can usually get dollar TCs without paying any fees (some banks, credit unions, and AAA sell them for no fees). You can cash them on-board for no fees, and you can easily exchange dollars at banks or change kiosks for better rates than TCs. Notice I did not mention cashing TCs in Europe, because the truth is that nobody wants the darn things anymore and they can make it difficult. Some banks charge extra fees and might require a passport. Most merchants will still take them, but we actually saw a restaurant in Rome (last year) that had a sign saying "No Travelers Checks." Apparently there have been some problems with conterfeit TCs, which is why they had that sign. As to ATMs, they are everywhere in Europe, easy to use, and if you have a decent bank they give you the best exchange rates (our credit union does not charge any additional fees). Credit card companies generally charge 1 - 3% on the wholesale rate of exchange, which is still cheaper than using a TC (CapitalOne is popular with travelers because they have not been charging any fees). However, we do know that some banks charge extra fees...and personally, we think that means its time to find a better bank or credit union.
We travel internationally several times a year (been doing this for over 30 years) and several years ago we bought $1000 of AMEX travelers checks to have as an emergency back-up. More than a dozen trips later we still have that same $1000...having used ATMs and credit cards in 74 different countries without ever needing to use that TC backup.
Note that some Orthodox churches require visitors to be covered - long sleeves, scarfs for women. Many times they will have loaners. I don't know how many Orthodox churches are around in the areas you will be visiting - but, it's something to keep in mind.
Hank- You are most correct. I never thought about the extra fees for the Euro TCs. We used the travels checks to bring cash with us without actually having cash. The credit card always gives you the best exchange rate, so use that were you can. We exchanged some checks at the airport in Rome to get Euro's and the ship cashed them for no fee and even allowed me to buy Euros with them (which was not the best rate) Hank's way is probably the best except for the cash you need for tips and small purchases.