The Bahamas just got more expensive to visit

ConsumerAffairs

But there may be some work-arounds that will save money

If you’re planning a cruise to The Bahamas after March 1, you know you’re probably going to be paying at least 10% more than you normally would.

It’s not the cruise lines that have colluded to hit the customer for more, but it’s the Bahamian government.

According to Bahamas newspaper The Tribune, the government plans to impose a 10% fee on any goods and services that the cruise lines provide on their private islands. Until now, the government has exempted the private islands from the Bahamas' value-added tax (VAT)

It's the same tax treatment for private island activities as it is for Bahamians selling goods and services to travelers at other locations, according to the country's financial secretary, Simon Wilson.

Who, what?

Most major cruise lines have their own private island somewhere in the Bahamas.

Disney has two, Disney Cruise Line's Castaway Cay and new Lookout Cay at Lighthouse Point, opening next year; Norwegian Cruise Line has the Great Stirrup Cay; Royal Caribbean's Perfect Day is located at CocoCay, MSC Cruises' Ocean Cay, Princess Cruises' Princess Cays, and Carnival Cruise Line's Celebration Key, also opening in 2025. 

How to get around this added charge

Now, this change can be cut two ways: either the cruise lines will absorb the tax increase or they’ll pass it along to consumers. The latter is pretty much an eventuality.

To get a better deal on a cruise to the Bahamas in light of the new 10% fee, consumers should consider the following strategies based on the provided references:

Book early or last minute: According to Cruise Mummy, booking at least a year in advance or very last minute can lead to the best deals, as cruise companies offer attractive prices when they first release their itineraries or a few weeks before they set sail.

Use a travel agent: Travel agents can offer exclusive packages and benefits to their clients, such as onboard credit or free gratuities that may not be available otherwise.

Avoid optional extras: To keep costs down, you should skip on the more glamorous onboard offerings like specialty dining, spa services, and excursions. A mani/pedi could set you back $150, for example.

Select lower-category cabins: Do you really have to have a balcony where you can sit outside? If you don’t, think about choosing interior cabins.

Book during sale periods: Again, this is where a travel agent can come in handy because the cruise lines give them lots of carrots to dangle in front of vacationers. Right now is a good time to shop because, through the end of February, we’re in “Wave Season,” the cruise line version of Black Friday.

Work the calendar in your favor: When you’re looking for a cruise, ask about the week before, the week after, the month before, etc. Being flexible might get you a super nice deal.

Bring your own alcohol: Cruise ship drink packages may be good deals if the people in your party are big drinkers. However, for those who may only have a glass of bourbon a day, it can be expensive -- like $10-11 a shot.

If permitted by the cruise line, bringing your own alcohol can save money as most ships allow one bottle per person. A recent trick for wine drinkers is to bring box wine in their suitcase. Since a box doesn’t have any metal, it goes undetected when going through the scanners.

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