Key West has put a referendum on its November ballot that would limit the size of cruise ships that could call on the city’s port.
In the month since the coronavirus pandemic began, a group of Key West citizens formed the Key West Committee for Cleaner, Safer Ships. Their goal is to decrease the size and number of ships that are allowed to visit Key West each year. In turn, they say it would help decrease the spread of coronavirus on the island, as well as to help with the negative environment impact of cruise ships.
The organization did a case study, which pointed out:
Cruise ships are a risk to public health:
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found cruise ship-linked cases of Covid-19 accounted for 17% all known cases in the U.S. during February and March.
12% of all Covid-19 cases in Australia came from a single cruise ship, Carnival’s Ruby Princess.
Key West now allows more than 390 cruise ships every year, over 10,000 passengers and crew per day, for a total of more than 1.2 million people annually.
Lower Keys Medical Center is licensed for only 176 beds, and maintains only 7 ICU beds
Cruise ships threaten the environment:
Cruise ships are 1% of global shipping but generate 25% of all waste.
Cruise ships create silt clouds around the area’s reef that threaten the survival of juvenile corals.
Carnival was fined $40 million for dumping plastics and oily discharges in 2016 and put on probation. They violated probation by falsifying records and were fined an additional $20 million in 2019.
More than 130 Carnival ships docked in Key West in 2019, carrying over 450,000 people.
Cruise ships puts Key West’s economy in jeopardy:
More than 50% of Americans say they will avoid crowded destinations until the Covid-19 threat is resolved.
“More” cruise ships are no longer “better” in Key West. One cruise ship-imported infection can destroy an entire tourist season for Key West, and permanently damage their safe tourism brand.
Cruise ship passengers make up 50% of all tourists in Key West but only 8% of all tourist spending.
Cruise ship passengers spend an average of only $32 in Key West vs. $550 by all other tourists. It takes 17 cruise ship passengers to match the spending 1 non-cruise tourist.
Three proposed amendments on the ballot would:
- Limit the number of passengers disembarking from cruise ships to a total of 1500 people per day
- Restrict the size of ships that can dock on the island to those with a capacity of no more than 1300 people
- prioritize ships with “better” environmental and public health records
Not even the smallest of the major cruise lines’ ships would “fit” the proposed numbers the referendum is calling for. For example, Royal Caribbean’s smallest ship, Empress of The Seas, can hold 1,840 passengers. The Carnival Fascination holds 2,634. The Disney Magic can accommodate 2,713.
Of course, the issue is divisive and pits business owners and employees, who depend on passengers’ claimed $32 each, against those who are more concerned about the environment and the health and safety of the island’s people.
I guess we’ll see what happens when they vote in November.
Feature Photo: Common Domain
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and get emailed notifications of when we post. Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group – we have 14,000+ members and we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary