Key West residents voted heavily in favor of limiting 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 amendments that will immediately become part of the City Charter of Key West. All three amendments proposed to voters on the November 3, 2020 ballot were favored by the people by at least 60%. Now passed, the amendments will lead to many cruise lines, including Disney Cruise Line, to search for a new port of call to replace Key West in future cruise itineraries. However, a legal battle already underway.
According to the Miami Herald, the referendums are binding, meaning they will change the city’s charter. However, there is a legal fight already in play at the Monroe County Courthouse which started well before the election. Pier B Development, which operates one of the three ports in Key West, sued the city and the Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships. Monroe County Circuit Judge Bonnie Helms, in a September 29th order, said she would schedule a jury trial sometime after the election.
This is a landslide, and a tremendous, city-wide mandate. The people of Key West have spoken loud and clear.Statement from Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships
The Key West voters approved all three of the following proposed amendments:
Charter Amendment: Limiting Persons Disembarking
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.
Charter Amendment: Cruise Ship Capacity
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.
Charter Amendment: Best Environmental and Health Records
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).
The impact to Disney Cruise Line will be limited to the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder which both list a capacity of 2,713 passengers. The Dream and Fantasy are too large for the port in terms of ship size compared to the channel width. As it stands with currently announced itineraries, the Magic and Wonder have 38 future calls scheduled to Key West, Florida.
Disney Cruise Line did not immediately respond to my request for comment on Key West’s decisive decision to restrict cruise ships as to what they will say to guests currently booked, or those interested in booking an future Disney Cruise on the Disney Magic or Disney Wonder with a scheduled stop in Key West.