View Full Version : Taxes on Mediterranean cruise ship board purchases

December 29th, 2010, 02:24 PM
We are booked on a 12 night Med cruise in Sept. I have heard that everything purchased on board the ship is subject to the European tax. Including duty free items. Is this true?

December 29th, 2010, 02:25 PM
Wasn't true on our purchases onboard Noordam in the Med last summer. No taxes of any kind were added.

December 29th, 2010, 02:43 PM
I can't remember any taxes added to our purchases on Princess in Europe.

December 29th, 2010, 03:38 PM
It is relatively new and has to do with Spain's VAT tax. They are applying the VAT tax to cruises where the cruise ship is in Spanish territorial water. While the ship is docked in Spain or in Spanish waters, purchases (and spa treatments) are assessed a VAT tax. When outside of Spanish waters, no VAT tax. However, on certain cruises that begin and end in Spain, the VAT tax may be in effect the entire cruise (it depends on what other ports the ship calls upon - as long as one port of call is outside of the EU, then the VAT tax will only apply while the ship is in Spanish territorial waters).

December 29th, 2010, 04:12 PM
This is why many ships will have a short call at somewhere like Gibraltar, so the VAT doesn't apply to them.
One tip is....if the casino is open, then you're out of the 12 mile limit, so there should be no extra tax.

December 29th, 2010, 04:58 PM
Thanks, that does help explain and I did find a nice informative website http://www.visiteurope.com/Plan/Practical-Information/Need-to-know/Shopping---VAT

But I won't know for sure until I get on the ship whether or not they are going to be taxing me all the time. But at least I won't be shocked, or not too shocked anyway. AND I may be able to get a refund on the tax when I depart Spain on the plane.

Thanks again.

December 29th, 2010, 05:04 PM
But I won't know for sure until I get on the ship whether or not they are going to be taxing me all the time.

It looks like from a prior post you are on the September 17, 2011 Solstice cruise? If so, you will only have to deal with the VAT tax very briefly. It will apply on Day 1 of your cruise until you have sailed a few miles off the coast of Spain (once the casino opens that evening, no more VAT tax). The only other time the VAT tax would materialize would be the last morning of your cruise, but generally not much of anything is available for purchase at that time anyways. Your cruise calls on ports outside of the EU, so the VAT tax will not be in effect while the ship is outside of Spanish territorial waters.

January 13th, 2011, 10:50 AM
Thank you for clearing that up for me, and others that read this. It must be confusing for the cruiselines to make the decision as to when and what to tax. Yikes! AM SOOOOO Very excited to do this cruise. A few extra taxes won't damper my enthusiasm.

January 13th, 2011, 11:55 AM
This tax thing is getting a bit out of proportion to the issue. When ships are docked or within territorial waters they are sometimes required to collect the local or VAT taxes. However, once you are clear of the ports and well off the coast (within an hour) there are no taxes. It is actually the same thing for ships docked in Florida where we have been charged taxes while in port. In fact one particular cruise line (we do not recall which line) actually used special bottles of booze while in Florida ports. They explained to us that they were supposed to use booze that had been taxed as opposed to the duty-free booze they use while at sea.