Around 200 people gathered at Mallory Pier, Key West (Florida USA) Thursday morning, December 9) to watch the NCL-Norwegian Cruise Line ship Norwegian Dawn pull into Pier B, next door. Meanwhile, ~20 small boats were in the harbor.
They waved flags with the logo of Safer, Cleaner Ships, the group that organized the petition drive that led to the 2020 referendum on regulating liners.
Over 60% of Key West voters approved limiting the number of people who could come to the island by cruise ship to a total of 1500 people a day, the capacity of ships at 1300 people, and required the city to prioritize vessels with the best health and safety records.
The limits were overturned last spring by the state Legislature as it passed a law banning the regulation of ports by voter initiatives.
The crowd shouted "respect our vote!" as NCL Dawn ship pulled in, carrying 1061 passengers plus 1073 crew.
The liners stir up plumes of sediment as they sail into Key West Harbor through the shipping channel. It is an area fishermen say is "crucial for fish making their way from the Gulf of Mexico into the Keys and the Straits of Florida." They say that silt smothers sea life that cannot get away, like coral and seagrass.
The City Commission has been discussing how it could regulate the liners. Key West is a city-owned seaport so the Commission is the Port Authority. It recently hired outside counsel in order to help draft new ordinances. A city workshop is scheduled for 5 PM on Monday, December 13, with the sole agenda of providing guidance to the city attorney and city manager about cruise ships.