Starting January 1, 2024 the U.S. Virgin Islands plans to levy a new tax of $5 per passenger on all Royal Caribbean Group brands docking at the Austin "Babe" Monsanto Marine Terminal in Crown Bay, St. Thomas. This includes Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Silversea Cruises.
According to the Virgin Islands Consortium, the Capital Cost Recovery Charge (CCRC) will go towards funding "significant capital improvement projects" at the terminal. These include the construction of a third cruise ship pier.
While the Virgin Island Port Authority (VIPA), which voted on the tax, did not say specifically why only Royal Caribbean Group will be targeted, the company's brands are the primary users of the Crown Bay terminal. From January through September 2023, the only other cruise lines that used the terminal were Sea Dream and The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Holland America was also scheduled to use the terminal, but only once.
VIPA also did not say how the tax would be levied, but typically such charges are passed straight through to cruisers as part of their cruise fare taxes and fees.
All other cruise lines use the Havensight Cruise Pier.
The VIPA Board also empowered executive director Carlton Dowe to introduce a similar $5 per passenger CCRC for Royal Caribbean Group brand ships that dock at the Ann E. Abramson Marine Facility in St. Croix. That terminal is also primarily used by Royal Caribbean Group brands, with occasional visits from Virgin Voyages. The timeline for that tax is unclear.
The revenue from that charge would similarly cover capital improvements, including expanding the pier to accommodate Freedom-class ships, instead of only Voyager-class ships.