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May 9, 2018

Rockland councilors consider limits on cruise ships

Photo / CruiseMapper.com
Photo / CruiseMapper.com
An aerial view of Rockland’s port, which can dock ships sized up to 215 feet in length. Bigger have to anchor in the harbor.

The Rockland City Council is considering placing an advisory referendum on the November ballot to get input about potential large cruise ship regulation.

The Bangor Daily News reported the council received a petition signed by about 100 Rockland residents that asked the city to place a moratorium on allowing cruise ships with more than 250 passengers from coming into port.

"A cruise ship can be great fun, but a cruise ship can be deadly to a small town or city," Joan Wright, who presented the petition, said at the council's Monday meeting.

According to the petition, circulated on change.org, the "danger" of cruise ships is "an incremental creep fostered by the cruise lines themselves. Bar Harbor started with a single ship, as did Venice, Key West, Ketchikan, Fort Lauderdale, Charleston and countless others. Unless we call our own shots now, we are opening Pandora's Box and slowly becoming pawns of big business interests."

Spending by cruise ship passengers, the petition says, "pales to that by land-based tourists … So we lose each time a land-based tourist is chased away while the port is overwhelmed with hordes of people from the mega-cruise ships…" The petition asks the council "to regulate the entry of mega-cruise ships into our city by limiting the size and number of ships and the number of passengers who are permitted to use our public landing."

In November 2017, the BDN reported that Rockland's cruise ship visitations has increased from four in 2016 to six in 2017. At that time, Tom Peaco, executive director of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, told the BDN that 2017's 9,728 cruise ship passengers were a significant economic boon to downtown restaurants and shops, which reported double-digit increases on days cruise ships had stopped in Rockland.

For 2018, Rockland's cruise ship schedule began April 4 and runs through Oct. 19.

The largest cruise ship expected is the 993-foot Queen Mary II on Sept. 25. The 215-foot American Cruise lines Independence, with a capacity of 150 passengers, is scheduled to arrive at the public landing 17 times. The 365-foot American Cruise Lines Constitution, with 170 passengers, is scheduled to anchor and tender in 12 times. Nine other cruise ship stops are also scheduled in Rockland.

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