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I’ve read today that passengers on many of this summer’s Mediterranean fly-cruises on Ventura have received letters from P&O advising them they will have to pay Italian or Spanish VAT on some on-board purchases. Some cruises will pay Spanish VAT on drinks as well. It’s all very complex, and it’s all due to the fact that many of the cruises will not be leaving EU waters; hence, VAT will be payable.

First, here are the relevant cruises:-

  • all 7-night cruises departing from Genoa;
  • half of all 14-night cruises, whether departing from Genoa or Venice;
  • but not 7 night cruises departing from Venice.

This is apparently because one of the destinations on the Venice to Genoa cruise is Kotor, in Montenegro, which is not a member of the EU. Since the cruise is calling at a non-EU port, that therefore means those 7-night cruises avoid on-board VAT. In contrast, the 7-night cruises from Genoa only call at ports in EU countries, so VAT will be levied. Passengers on 14-night cruises will only pay the VAT for the leg from Genoa to Venice. Arguably they ought not to pay it at all – every 14-night cruise will call at Kotor at some point – but if the on-board systems are set up to charge VAT from Genoa to Venice then I don’t suppose they can apply it only to passengers on 7-night cruises; in practice, they’ve got to apply it to all passengers.

Spanish VAT will apply because the first and last cruise of Ventura’s season will be between Malaga (after the transatlantic voyage in spring) to Genoa, and vice-versa in the autumn.

So what will VAT be charged on?

  • Italian VAT (22%) will be charged on on-board purchases in the shops, photo gallery, and products bought in the spa, but not the cost of treatments;
  • Spanish VAT (21%) will be levied on the same things;
  • In addition, Spanish VAT at 10% will be levied on bar charges, select dining charges and room service charges when the ship is in Spanish waters;
  • But there’s no mention of Italian VAT being levied on drinks or food. Sensible people, the Italians….

You can read the full details here.

Update: I ought to make it clear that passengers won’t have to pay both Spanish and Italian VAT on the same cruise. In fact, the main cruise for which Spanish VAT will be levied will be N407D, which is the cruise that departs from Malaga on 26 March, take 7 nights to get to Genoa, and then continues to Venice – on that one, Spanish VAT will be charged and not Italian VAT.

5 Responses to “P&O Med fly-cruise passengers will be charged VAT on board”

  1. Christine Dodd says:

    Thank goodness we’re sailing out of Venice! Just signed up to your blog and it’s great fun.

  2. Melvin Sturtevant says:

    We are doing the 14 night P&O Ventura cruise from Genoa in one days time, calling at Venice and Dubrovnik, Kotor etc. It is most unfair that we are liable for the additional 20% Italian tax because our journey takes us out of EU waters to Croatia!

    • Tom says:

      Thanks for the comment, Melvin.

      Unfortunately, I think Croatia has been a member of the EU since some time in 2013….

  3. Jean says:

    We recently did a 14 night cruise Venice to Venice calling at Montenegro and were charged tax on the second part despite the reassurance that our booking was a 14 night booking. This meant that a large proportion of our onboard credit was devalued as we were not advised of this until the shops were about to close on the night before the start of the second 7 days
    Despite the fact that it was being regarded as two separate itineraries for tax purposes we were advised that loyalty points could not be added at the end of the first week. This meant that moving up a tier with the increased % discount was not possible.When is a 14 night cruise not a 14 night cruise? Obviously when it suits P&O.
    To say that onboard systems could not cope with distinguishing between 7 and 14 night passengers is nonsense in this day and age.

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