Key West is looking to limit the size of cruise ships permitted to visit the popular South Florida cruise port and cap the number of passenger disembarkations per day through a series of proposed amendments to the City Charter of Key West. There are three specific amendments proposed for the November ballot that could lead to many cruise lines, including Disney Cruise Line, eliminating Key West from future itineraries.
The Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships hopes voters will vote yes on all three of the following proposed amendments:
- Limiting persons disembarking from cruise ships to a total of 1500 persons per day.
The number of persons disembarking from cruise ships shall be limited to a total of not more than 1,500 persons per day at any and all public and privately owned or leased property located within the municipal boundary of the City of Key West.
- Prohibiting cruise ships with a capacity of 1300 or more persons from disembarking.
Cruise ships with the capacity to carry 1,300 or more persons (passengers and crew) shall be prohibited from disembarking individuals at any and all public or privately owned or leased property located within the municipal boundary of the City of Key West.
- To give priority to cruise lines with the best environmental and health records.
The City of Key West shall give preference and priority to cruise ships and cruise lines that have the best environmental record (the lowest number of environmental violations, penalties and fines) and best health record (the best scores and least number of violations in health inspections and reports issued by the Center for Disease Control Vessel Sanitation Program).
Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships is leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic and environmental concerns for their cause.
Cruise ships are uniquely prone to the spread of infectious disease, as recent reports from U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Miami Herald, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal make clear. The destructive environmental impacts of cruise ships on air and water quality are well-established. A return to previous cruise-ship size and disembarkation numbers in Key West would resume its negative impacts on the local environment and pose a serious risk to the health, safety, and economy of its citizens. Overcrowding from cruise ships would threaten the recovery of Key West’s $1 billion tourist industry, 92% of which is generated by multi-day tourists. Cruise ships account for 50% of visitors to the island, but contribute just 8% of tourism revenues. Cruise ships present Key West with a high-risk/low-reward proposition that must be urgently addressed.Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships – Case Study on Limiting Cruise Ships in Key West
The Safer Cleaner Ships committee stresses this is not intended to be a cruise ship ban, the proposals would still allow for one small cruise ship of 1,300-capacity, or two very small cruise ships of 750-capacity. However, if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
In June, the Chamber of Commerce met to discuss the future of cruising Key West releasing some data on the $90 million dollar impact of the cruise industry. Based on studies that estimate the percentage of passengers and crew who disembark in Key West, their average spending, and fees associated with cruise ships entering the port, more than $90 million of revenue is realized in Key West.
In 2019, Key West had 417 cruise ship arrivals, only 22 meet the proposed criteria for size. The Chamber of Commerce does not feel ships meeting the proposed criteria could support the expected revenue stream based on the seasonal cruise ship visits of ships meeting the criteria.
According to the chamber, over 800 full-time jobs are attributed to Key West employment based on $75 million dollars of passenger and crew spending in 2019.
The Chamber invited Tom McAlpin to speak and highlight Virgin Voyages which was planning to reveal it’s first cruise ship, Scarlet Lady, on March 20th… The mid-size Scarlet Lady, sailing with 2770 passengers and 1150 crew, is slated to make 33 calls to Key West between October 2020 and December 2021.
McAlphin was key to Disney Cruise Line’s launch serving as the Chief Financial Officer before eventually becoming the president, and the person who wrote and handed Michael Eisner the business plan back in the mid-1990’s.
During McAlphin’s presentation he shared some of the safety measures planned for the when the Scarlet Lady debuts following the restart of the cruise industry.
The following is a video of the meeting covering the chamber’s stance as well as some interesting insight into Disney Cruise Line from McAlphin.
The potential impact to Disney Cruise Line is limited to the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder as the Dream and Fantasy are too big for the port in terms of ship size. As it stands with currently announced itineraries, the Magic and Wonder have 27 future calls scheduled to Key West, Florida.
You can learn more by visiting the Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships website and the Key West Chamber of Commerce.