New tax on RCG-Royal Caribbean Group cruise ship passengers in USVI

   September 28, 2023 ,   Cruise Industry

Port authorities in the US Virgin Islands (USVI) approved a proposal to charge Royal Caribbean Group/RCG cruise ships with US$5 per passenger fee to improve local port facilities. This fee will be implemented beginning January 1, 2024.

RCG-owned subsidiaries and brands are RCI-Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises.

Officially referred to as the Capital Cost Recovery Charge (CCRC), it will be charged to passengers whose ships dock at two of its ports - the Austin Monsanto Marine Terminal in Charlotte Amalie/St Thomas Island) and the Ann E. Abramson Marine Facility in Frederiksted/St Croix Island).

The USVI Port Authority (VIPA) Board of Governors approved the recovery charge last Wednesday, September 20.

The fees collected will fund the initial stages of development projects in Crown Bay and Frederiksted. This includes enhancements to infrastructure, dredging operations, and the construction of a third cruise terminal in Crown Bay.

Earlier this summer, The Bahamas imposed a new tax on cruise passengers starting in January 2024.

VIPA also hopes these upgrades will enable the Ann E. Abramson Marine Facility to accommodate larger ships like RCI’s FREEDOM-class liners (volume 154,400 GT-tons).

Currently, the largest vessels that can dock there are Voyager-class ships that are 138,000 gross registered tons.

Executive Director Carlton Dowe assured the public and the board that he has already initiated talks with the Royal Caribbean Group.

“We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Royal Caribbean Group as we move forward in the development of these exciting projects that will benefit the territory and strengthen this U.S. Virgin Islands’ position as a premier destination. The Caribbean and the rest of the world are not waiting for the USVI to advance. The time for progress is now,” he said.

As the cruise industry experiences a strong and promising comeback, the US Virgin Islands has forecasted a dramatic growth in cruise passenger arrivals.

The USVI expects a significant surge in cruise arrivals for 2023, with 450 scheduled stops accommodating ~1.4 million potential tourists, compared to less than 250 stops in 2022.