port charges, taxes and fees

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12,126 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Originally posted by gizfish
Port charges are what you pay to cover the costs of the ship being in port. That is why when you miss a port, those charges get refunded. The amount of port charges can be different on different cruise lines or ships docking at the same port because the charge takes into account the size of the ship/amount of people on board and the hours the ship will be in port. So, if your ship and another cruise ship are in port the same day, but the other one is there a shorter time, they will be paying less to dock there that day. That is why there is such a big deal when people are late getting back on board. It's not so much that they have to make up the time to get to the next port. That is pretty easy. It's that the ship may be charged more for staying longer in the port. The port charge is not negotiable as it is set by the government of the port. The ship and your TA have no say in it. Port charges for canal crossings are much higher because it costs that much more to maintain/use the facilities to make the transit.
You are talking about port "fees" not port "charges". Port charges are something you will never see when you book directly with the cruise line, but will see when booking with a TA, and these are not refundable when a port is missed, since they actually have nothing to do with ports.
1 Posts
Joined Jun 2017
I am taking the NCL Panama Cruise on the Jade. My port fees are $600 for two people. One agent called them NCF "Non-commissionableCruise Fare". Taxes are $792.98 for two. I did notice on NCL website that price breakdown says "Gov't Taxes, Fee and Port Expenses" which is a little misleading as it is not Port Charges. I also just booked a Carnival cruise for 3 people in the stateroom all adults, and it does not appear there are port charges for the 3rd person only taxes.
Chicago, IL
1 Posts
Joined Jan 2015
I booked a cruise on Norwegian Epic yesterday in a Studio and was charged $347.21 in taxes and port charges. Today I found out that others that are in my group were only charged $147.21 for the same cruise. Yes that's right, I got an extra helping of $200 of "government and port fees" for no good reason. I assumed that this must have been some kind of glitch, so I called the agent, World Cruises (dba United Cruises) and spent an hour going in circles with her and the cruise line.

The conclusion they reached was that while yes it seems unfair, that is part of the price of the cruise and they would not do anything to change it.

Looking up other rates online I quickly found it impossible to price an itinerary where the taxes and port fees were more than $147.21 for the same rate code, or any other rate code. Interesting right?

I finally asked if they'd reprice me into one of the other rooms with the lower taxes and fees, but this only resulted in higher taxes and fees because I have an existing booking.

These fees are a complete scam. They have nothing to do with any government or port assessed charges and are just another type of bait and switch scam. The cruise line determines these fees unilaterally and they can make them whatever they think they can get away with.

When you price shop your cruise make sure you price it out to the point where these fees are included, because they can and will change them.
South Carolina, USA
2,273 Posts
Joined Mar 2014
You are talking about a TA messing around with the fees, not the cruise line.
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Joined Jan 2008
Originally posted by hawkeyetlse
I see. But if they don't know the final amount to charge each passenger until the last minute, do they make adjustments (additional charges or partial refunds) on board, based on how much each passenger was already made to pay? I know they do this on some other lines, but NCL doesn't always do things like other lines…
We were just on the Pearl in December out of New Orleans to Western Caribbean. While aboard we were credited $8 per person in shipboard credit. When I inquired the reason, Guest Services told me it was because the port charges were lower than originally estimated.
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Washington state
1,319 Posts
Joined May 2013
I’ve seen the fees increase and decrease for the same sailing. I think they have intentions of filling the ship to a certain point and charge everyone accordingly based on their projections. I’v seen them go down at the last minute and figured they probably collected most of the port fees and so charge the last few less but this could also be reversed for a sailing that sold terribly. I’m guessing the fees vary depending on sales and how many in a stateroom.

I’ve also wondered why disney cruises had so much lower fees. I think each company negotiates their fees and some end up with better pricing at various ports with long term commitment...

I’ve never been charged extra for switching to different ports or methods of tenders. I’d read early season complaints about tender process in Edinburgh taking forever and a day but for our sailing later in the season Ncl sprung for a very large charter tender and it got almost half the boat ashore in no time. The cost wasn’t passed on at least to us anyways.
2,468 Posts
Joined Mar 2017
Originally posted by Wenatchee
yes but total price keeps going up- I just want to make sure the fees are legimate or don't call them that. that would fall under truth in advertising

If you do not like the price of ANYTHING available in the market place simply do not buy it. If you pay $10,000 for a cruise what difference does it make if the cruise line is getting $7,000 and paying $3,000 in fees or if they are getting $9,000 and paying $1,000 in fees. It is still the same $10,000 out of your pocket.
31,082 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by Wenatchee
each time I sail the port charges taxes and fees go up and the savings disappear. I understand they can vary greatly and maybe 450 per person is not that high- but how can I be assured these are legitimate and not including commission fees and they are collecting charges that were not levied? for example, what is panama canal charges, and seattle, LA or Miami charges vs acappoco or costa rica?
just remember port charges and taxes are set by the port and not the cruise line. Fees can be a different story. There is no way you will ever really know I guess, so you have to accept what you are charged. This can be the situation with anything in life. We can't go around doubting a company's honesty. BTW when you book through the cruise line no one gets any commission, so why would you add that part to your question. if you book through an agent, indeed they do. Do you doubt the taxes and fees you pay to a hotel? Most likely not.
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