Cruise guests visiting Lisbon, Portugal will soon be required to pay a new tourist tax, with the fee beginning in January 2024. While details of the payment procedure are still being finalized, this tax is the latest in extra fees more and more ports are imposing on cruise travelers as part of efforts to either curb visits or raise funds to support local infrastructure.
Lisbon to Begin Cruise Passenger Tax
Port of Lisbon is poised to begin charging cruise visitors a €2 (approximately $2.20 USD) per person tourist tax beginning in January 2024. The exact date for tax collection to begin has not been announced, as payment details are still being finalized.
Cruise ship operators will likely be the collected fees for passengers via the Janela Única Logística platform, a digital port logistics network. Individual guests will not need to pay the fee when debarking in Lisbon, but instead the extra charge will most likely be connected as part of the cruise fare, and the cruise line will pay the fee upon arrival in Lisbon.
This is similar to the process used to collect “port taxes and fees” for many cruise ports around the world. Lisbon City Council officials are still working out the payment procedure, but do expect that the new tax will raise approximately €1.2 million ($1.32 million USD) annually.
How the funds will be used has not been disclosed. Many port communities use taxes and fees from cruise visits to help fun port projects, such as regular maintenance, upgrades, or new construction, as well as to revitalize local areas that may appeal to cruise passengers to help create an even greater economic boom.
The Mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas, has made vague threats against cruise operations if the lines refuse to pay the upcoming fees.
“I will make entry somewhat difficult. I can hinder the mobility of buses (at the port), and I will do so if they don’t pay,” he said.
Restrictions such as limiting port docking hours, limiting how tour buses can access the port, or otherwise impeding movements could make it difficult for ships to plan visits to Lisbon, or cause challenges with offer shore excursion opportunities for guests to enjoy. If this becomes too difficult, cruise lines may simply drop Lisbon as a port of call.
Cruising to Lisbon
Lisbon is a popular destination for both western Mediterranean and northern European cruise itineraries, as well as a common stopover for Canary Island voyages, depending on the voyage’s point of origin. Many transatlantic cruises also include a port visit to Lisbon.
In January 2024 – one of the slower months of the year for the cruise port – ten ship visits are scheduled, including vessels from P&O Cruises, Cunard Line, TUI Cruises, and MSC Cruises, as well as other lines.
The spring, summer, and autumn months are the busiest for Lisbon and include calls from both large and small lines, including Disney Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, and more.
More Ports Imposing Fees
Cruise travelers are accustomed to port fees and taxes, which can often add up to $100 (USD) or more per passenger on each sailing, depending on the length of the itinerary, the number of ports visited, and what fees are charged. Different destinations may use different fee structures depending on the size of a cruise ship, how long it will be in port, and how busy the docking schedule may be.
As more ports add these fees, however, the costs are quickly adding up and may become insurmountable for budget-conscious travelers, particularly families and groups.
Just recently, the Mexican state of Quintana Roo – home to the popular destinations of Costa Maya and Cozumel – Proposed adding a $5 per person cruise traveler tax beginning in January 2025.
Meanwhile, authorities in Scotland are also pushing for new taxes on cruise ships, though details have not yet been determined.
Elsewhere in Europe, Amsterdam is hiking tax rates on cruise tourists and will soon have some of the highest of such fees anywhere in the European Union, including higher than those proposed for Lisbon, Portugal.
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