...how long it takes to get into international waters so I don't have to pay the tax on this purchase. My cruise is on Carnival leaving Miami and sailing to the Eastern Caribbean. Thanks.
(PS.- Do you know what the total tax amount would be for this purchase, if I did have to pay it?)
About 30 minutes from the time you leave port. At 12 nautical miles out they stop charging taxes. Before then it goes by the local sales tax rate, which currently in Miami I believe it is 7%.
For instance a 7 day cruise out of Miami the Cheer's Program would cost you:
$301.88 (with 15% gratuity) - if purchased in International Waters
$323.12 (with 15% gratuity and 7% sales tax) - if purchased while in port
For a difference of about $21 dollars. So, if you can drink more than $21 dollars worth of beverages from the time you board till 30 minutes after leaving port, just go ahead and purchase it as soon as you board. Either way you will be charged local taxes for the drinks you get before reaching international waters. If you are on the Cheers Program your receipt instead of showing $0.00, will show a charge equivalent to a the local tax rate on the drink purchased, for a beer it is like $.41 cents for a high end martini around $.63 cents.
Not that this affects you but others cruising from TX should keep in mind this option to purchase the Cheers Program immediately is not even available from TX ports due to state liquor laws, the program must be purchased on the second day for cruises sailing from TX. The first day you will be paying for your drinks individually and drinks purchased before you reach international waters (approx. 30 mins after leaving port) will have local taxes of 8.25% added to each drink.