The tax man cometh to Tahiti: The Polynesian archipelago plans to increase its cruise ship tax to 11.50 euros (approximately $15) from 4.20 euros (approximately $5.50); the tax is to be calculated per cabin -- and applies even to those sailing empty.
It is becoming more commonplace for cruise destinations to tax their tourists, and companies are passing the costs on to the customer. This past summer, Alaskans approved a controversial cruise tax of $50 per person; a spokesman for Carnival Cruise Lines tells us that the line notified guests in December that the hefty head tax would be applied on new and existing bookings.
According to media reports, the Tahiti tax applies only to ships sailing less than three months a year in Polynesian waters, with itineraries that include at least two calls in Tahiti. Cruise lines that could be affected by this change include Cunard and Holland America, which call at Tahitian ports on a sporadic basis.
A spokesman for HAL tells us the line would be affected on days it calls in French Polynesia -- at this point, just eight -- and that such taxes, again, are generally passed on to the customer. Cunard has not reported back yet on whether the tax affects them and, if so, how they'll implement it.
So, which lines might be exempt? Both Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Princess Cruises have ships in the region year-round. A Princess spokeswoman tells us the line is reviewing this new tax and will provide Cruise Critic with more information when it is available. Regent did not immediately return Cruise Critic's call to confirm whether or not the tax hike applies to them.
The tax will only be enforced after official publication in the Journal Officiel de la Polynesie Francaise, which hasn't taken place yet, according to media reports.
We'll keep you posted.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor