Key West Limits Number of Cruise Ships in Light of Climate Activists

Ava Stuzin, Multimedia Photo Editor

Nearly two years after Key West residents voted to reduce cruise ship port visits, the Key West City Council has reached a compromise that will reduce the number of cruise ship visits while still allowing all cruise ships to enter the port.

On Mar. 10, the Key West City Commission agreed to direct ships almost completely to the city’s sole privately-run dock, Pier B. The private pier only allows for one ship at a time, compared to the two or three that the previous pier could accommodate. This decision means that no more than one ship will be accepted at Pier B, and if a ship docks at Pier B, there will not be another one allowed. The city’s pier will only accept cruises that hold fewer than 1,300 people and will only be open when Pier B is not in use. 

These new regulations will also reduce the number of cruise ships that visit Key West on a weekly basis from 21 to seven. There will also be increased environmental monitoring and frequent water quality testing.

In addition to giving the city 25% of the fees received from cruise ships, the operators of Pier B must pay a $1 per passenger fee, with the extra funds being utilized to purchase new operations. The City Council also hopes to achieve a deal with B’s operator to limit further cruising.

Local businesses are concerned that these new limitations will reduce the number of tourists and tax revenues for the city. Despite the fact that COVID-19 has shut down the tourist site, they are still trying to make up the revenue lost due to the 18-month lack of cruise ship passengers.

Cruise ships first returned to Key West in November, albeit smaller. The first large cruise ship to return to the main city port was in December. The ship was greeted by local protests organized by the non-profit activist group Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships in response to the environmental damage caused by cruise ships.