Carnival Ships Will Boycott Port After Cruise Tax Hike

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Two Carnival Corp cruise brands will pull ships from scheduled port calls in Melbourne, Australia, after the port authority announced a cruise ship tax hike.

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Ports Victoria will raise the per-passenger levy by 15%. That represents an increase from A$28.50 to A$32, effective January 1 next year.

Minister for Ports and Freight Melissa Horne said the increase will fund the port’s historic Station Pier maintenance. She added it is the first port fee increase in nearly three years.

Carnival Australia Response

Daytime in Melbourne, Australia
Daytime in Melbourne, Australia (Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Teresa Lloyd, Carnival Australia’s chief strategy officer, said the company had not taken the decision lightly and urged the Victoria state government to reconsider.

“We love Melbourne and so do our local, interstate, and international guests,” Lloyd said. “However, the decision to homeport these popular cruise lines in other markets is in no small part due to an unexpected increase in fees and charges.”

Carnival says a port call in Melbourne is already one of the most expensive in the world. “Australia’s a very expensive region, so any incremental cost really hurts.” The port authority described it as a “modest” increase.

“We’d really like to work with the government on making sure we can find a solution that Melbourne is a really long term stable, viable option for us,” Lloyd added.

Cruise Tourism’s Economic Impact

cunard queen elizabeth exterior
Queen Elizabeth (Photo courtesy of Cunard)

Princess Cruises will not homeport in Melbourne for the 2025/2026 season, and UK-based Cunard will skip port calls. It is undoubtedly a setback to the Victoria state economy, which benefits from around A$379.5 million annually from cruise tourism, according to the latest CLIA data.

CLIA Australasia managing director Joel Katz said it is a major blow to the industry and businesses that are supported by cruise tourism. “Cruise lines paid A$227 million in fees and charges to Australian ports and governments during 2022-2023, which is almost 20% of their spending in this country.”

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