Key West residents will soon have the opportunity to decide on significantly reducing the prevalence of cruise ships calling on the tropical island city. Understandably, some residents are concerned that such a prohibition would significantly affect Key West’s economy. But others are eager to see the cruise ships go.
TheMaritimeExecutive.com reports that a set of ballot initiatives would restrict vessels that carry greater 1,300 people from calling on Key West, and would also limit total cruise guests to no more than 1,500 people per day, including passengers and crew. Additionally, the city would give preference to cruise lines that have better environmental and health records.
Cruise ships have been a source of complaints among some Key West residents, as approximately 900,000 passengers visit the city annually. In response to the enormous flow of cruise traffic the not-for-profit Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships was established to qualify the three questions for the November ballot.
Understandably, the referenda are causing consternation among those who desire to continue Key West’s current cruise capacity. The article states that the Key West Bar Pilots Association has filed suit in U.S. District Court in an attempt to block the referenda, arguing that only state and federal governments have the authority to regulate the port. There has been no decision relating to the suit as of yet.
All said, the referenda would eliminate an estimated 95% of cruise ship calls based on 2019 statistics.