Guests booked on 2024 sailings with Celebrity Cruises are being contacted about changes to their port taxes and fees.
This is due to the changes in tax on cruise guests in The Bahamas, and the amounts guests are seeing their cruise rates change vary, with some passengers reporting refunds while others are reporting fee increases.
Celebrity Cruises has begun to notify guests booked on 2024 sailings to The Bahamas that their reservations are being updated with changes to departure taxes. Bookings are being updated in phases according to sailing date, with earlier cruises showing the updates first.
“The Bahamian government has implemented a change to their departure tax amounts for all cruise guests visiting the Bahamas on or after January 1, 2024. As a result, we will be updating your reservation with the new amount,” the email read.
The email is for notification convenience only, and booked guests do not need to make any adjustments or extra payments at this time. The adjusted taxes and fees will be reflected on their bookings prior to the final payment due date.
Guests booked on upcoming sailings with Celebrity Cruises – part of the Royal Caribbean Group – are reporting wide variations in fee changes. Some cruise fees are increasing by just $5-6 (USD), while guests from Canada seem to be reporting much larger increases, as much as $35-40 (CDN). Some guests are also reporting slight fee decreases, as small as pennies.
The amount that fees are changing – increasing or decreasing – depends on many factors. How many cruise ports in The Bahamas a ship is visiting, the length of the ship’s time in port, even the port itself, such as Nassau, Bimini, Freeport, or a private island destination all impact the overall fees.
Cruise lines try to estimate these fees when cruise fares are calculated, which can be difficult to do when sailings are open for reservations and sales months or years in advance, and fees are likely to change prior to the sailing date.
When port destinations change their fees, cruise lines often correspondingly change the fees on guests’ fares. This may be done with changes prior to final payment, or it may be done as onboard credit of refunded taxes and port expenses.
With most of the fees from Celebrity Cruises increasing, booked guests will want to be aware of the changes and budget accordingly.
“We realize this is an unexpected charge and apologize for any inconvenience,” Celebrity Cruises said. “Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to welcoming you onboard.”
Different cruise lines have reacted differently to the controversial changes in taxes for visiting The Bahamas.
Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy, for example, has been a vocal opponent of the increase, and has been communicating with officials in The Bahamas to work on options.
“There’s a lot of development happening in The Bahamas, and we’re working with the officials in The Bahamas to see if, at least, it can get pushed out,” Duffy said of the taxes when they were initially planned to be implemented in July 2023. Duffy compared the new taxes to hotel resort fees that can surprise guests on land-based vacations.
Each cruise line may seek to adjust itineraries if necessary, perhaps removing visits to The Bahamas from future cruises, though this is unlikely considering how convenient the island nation is to Florida homeports.