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Some cruise sellers say "port fees extra." Sometimes those charges are more than the full retail cost, similar to marketing strategies that advertise a low product price paired with exorbitant "shipping and handling charges" that are really meant to cover the cost of the item as well.

Where can one find out what those costs actually are, for any given port/route, especially those in the northwest quarter of the globe?
An ideal answer would cite information from whomever it is that charges the port fee, such as a governmental port authority. A board where other passengers post what they were charged would be useful as well.

Edit: Some answers say that certain cruise lines include it in the cost of their fares while others don't. For the ones that don't list it separately on their websites, are there ways to get this information for someone who's considering purchasing through a reseller (e.g. as part of a package)?

  • 1
    @JonathanReez How do you know if the price is good or not, if the price is unknown? – Peter Nov 8 '16 at 9:53
  • When you say "all the fees", you don't mean "all the fees", as in shore excursions, premium restaurant, alcohol, onboard activities, cellphone roaming costs, internet, batteries, drinking water... I think you just mean "taxes and port fees". – smci Nov 8 '16 at 20:08
  • @smci I think the question makes that reasonably clear...do you see anywhere it implies those other things are included? I see JonathanReez edited the title to say "all the fees" and make that less clear, but the question text remains relatively clear. – WBT Nov 9 '16 at 2:42
  • I have no idea of where you can find those information, but I have a clear idea in my mind on the subject: why even bother? A company hiding the real cruise cost is trying to scam you, choose another one. – motoDrizzt Nov 9 '16 at 7:06
  • WBT: because you said "all the fees". "All the fees" would mean "all the fees" throughout the trip, not just "port fees + taxes". Cruises are notorious for hidden fees. @motodrizzt: no cruise company discloses all the hidden fees upfront, you have to do your homework. Review sites like cruisecritic.com and suchlike. – smci Nov 9 '16 at 8:45
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Expanding on @pnuts answer, ShermansTravel covered this in an article by Donna Tunney, Cruise Taxes, Explained

Holland America Line’s explanation, for example, is pretty standard: “Taxes, fees, and port expenses may include any and all fees, charges, tolls, and taxes imposed on us by governmental or quasi-governmental authorities, as well as third party fees and charges arising from a vessel’s presence in a harbor or port.”

In normal English, that legal-speak refers to costs such as:

  • tolls
  • ship inspections
  • local harbor pilots
  • air, hotel or VAT taxes incurred as part of a land excursion
  • immigration and naturalization costs
  • Internal Revenue Service charges
  • baggage handling at embarkation and disembarkation ports
  • security services

All of these obligations are calculated on a per ton or per vessel basis, and the cruise lines spread the expense across a ship’s total number of passengers. While no cruise line will breakdown exactly how much of the fee is going toward what specific charge, the total costs for government fees and port charges are typically less than 20 percent of the base cruise fare — though they can be as high as 50 percent in some cases.

On Norwegian’s Pride of America, a seven-day Hawaii cruise roundtrip from Honolulu starts at $1,379 per person for a September departure. The tax and port charge is an additional $167 per person, or about 12 percent. A seven-day Southern Caribbean cruise in September, aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Jewel of the Seas, has fares beginning at $489 per person. Additional fees are $71, about a 15 percent add-on. But Carnival’s seven-day Canada to New England cruise, sailing in September aboard Carnival Splendor, offers fares of $429 per person. The hefty $218 per person tax and port fee? It’s a 50 percent addition to the fare.

It’s worth noting that if you’re searching for trips online, in most cases, you’ll see the taxes and port fees early in the booking or browsing process. Carnival Cruise Lines, for instance, always shows the fee next to the cruise fare on its site. In a few cases, the charges are revealed further along in the booking process; Norwegian Cruise Line only does so after you select a stateroom. Yet other times, mostly with upscale and luxury lines such as Oceania Cruises and Silversea Cruises, the fees will already be included in the quoted cruise fare.

5

You Can't

Unfortunately you just can't find a single place to get all these fees. The fees are imposed by governments, businesses, and just random people. As you state much in the same way as "Shipping and Handling". Sure I could tell you the shipping rate, but you still have to pay the handling fee which is a number I just made up.

"Port Fees" on goods are much the same. There are legitimate costs for some products that need extra care or are regulated by the government. Or legitimate service fees that arise from the fact that your getting back to a ship. For example if you bought a knife, a small "extra fee" wouldn't be out of place because of the extra paper work that needs to be done, and the "different way" that it would need to get on board (basically being stored with the security officer and not with the passengers). But there are also the $50 "Port fees" for products just because they can.

It's up to you to decide if those kinds of fees are worth it.

When you are taking about "ship based fees" like docking fees, towing fees, head fees, canal tolls, etc. etc. Then the cruise line should not be bothering you with these exactly. They should instead have figured the cost of those fees into the cruise cost and changed their prices accordingly. In the cases where they can't, (for example a per-person tax) the cruise staff should be able to tell you in advance the estimated costs. They run that route all the time so they should have a pretty good idea.

If your using a travel agent or some such, I advise you to use one that lists the fees. Again, unless this is a maiden voyage, they at least know average costs. Buying directly from the cruise line may be a better way to go.

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    Random people really? – Pete B. Nov 8 '16 at 14:35
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    @PeteB. - "Random people really?" That depends where you are cruising to. Docks are rarely the part of town with the lowest crime rate, and you probably don't want anything bad to happen to your nice passengers... ;) – alephzero Nov 8 '16 at 14:42
  • Oh okay that was a joke, it is hard to communicate humor. In all my cruise statements I've never had a charge to "Johnny the Big" or some other such character. – Pete B. Nov 8 '16 at 14:45
5

Most fees are those that are levied for time spent at a port. The larger the boat, the longer the time ported, and the more ports the more fees.

There was a class action lawsuit against the cruise industry where captains would leave the port a bit earlier than advertised and charged to the customers, yet the cruise company kept the non-levied port fees. Now cruise ships will refund any fees not actually charged by the ports. As an example, we left the Nassau about a half hour early, and each passenger got back like $20 as a statement credit. This of course was a double bonus as Nassau is pretty horrible.

My wife and I love Carnival cruise lines. The food is better than RC and it is the most fun cruise line that there is. Plus the prices seem to be a bit better than the others. Another bonus: When you go on their website, they include the port fees and taxes in their prices. Also from what I have seen they offer the lowest prices on their site.

Sorry for the plug, but I have no affiliation other than I will probably be a stock holder, shortly, for the added benefits.

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