Last month, I reported on a set of 3 ballot initiatives to change the city charter of Key West (https://www.marinersmuseum.org/2020/10/a-maritime-issue-on-the-ballot/). Those initiatives sought to establish limits on the size and cleanliness of ships visiting the port of Key West, Florida. As you’ll recall, there were good, valid arguments on both sides of the issue. And during the campaign, as in all American campaigns since the early days of the Republic, passions flew a little high and a little mud got thrown. Americans are a pretty rough-and-tumble bunch!
Well, as I said, the residents have cast their votes! Bonnie Gross of the Florida Rambler reports that all those ballot questions passed by about 60% in favor of the changes. That means that, if the changes are allowed to stand, the City of Key West will limit the total carrying capacity of ships to 1,300 people.
They will limit the number of cruise ship visitors permitted to debark in any one day to 1,500 people. And they will not allow into port ships that have not met certain health, safety and cleanliness guidelines. The change also permits the city to favor ships with better cleanliness records over those with poor records. See the full story here.
What does this mean for the future of cruising?
The Florida Rambler notes that almost without doubt, opponents will challenge these changes to the city charter in court. Whatever the outcome of the court case may be, one can perceive a general sentiment among the residents of Key West. Cruise ships are still welcome, but the cruise industry must improve the experience for both passengers and ports!
I believe that shipbuilding industry is up to that challenge! Shipbuilders can build great ships that are even more intimate, more luxurious and more comfortable. At the same time, they can certainly improve the sanitation systems, engine cleanliness, and general hygiene. Whether or not the specific restrictions imposed by Key West are the right ones, they reflect the residents’ general sentiment. That is, that with some changes, ship and town can still do business. People seem to love the cruising experience and will continue to cruise so long as great passenger ships exist! We should let them! Because as we have said and will continue to say, through the water, through our relationship to the waters of the world, we are all connected to one another. And that’s the whole point of it!