January 24, 2018
Community News Latest News | Poll Questions | Jackman Town Manager | Russia Investigation | Government Shutdown

Chamber opposes cruise ship limits

Community Author:
Post Date:

Shari Closter
Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber has worked tirelessly over the past 10 years to build the cruise ship trade, culminating with Rockland’s first “really big” cruise ship visit last October.
We see these efforts as consistent with the desires of the city of Rockland and the Chamber to promote and invest in attracting cruise ships to Rockland as a way to bolster the local economy. While bookings have been modest to date, the experience of the visits has been nothing but positive and well-received. Tapping into this growing market is a strategy that is imperative in our goal of broadening and expanding the local economy.
Rockland’s Harbor Commission is proposing cruise ship policies that the Chamber believes would adversely affect the economy of downtown Rockland and the area. As drafted, the new polices would limit the size and frequency of cruise ships calling on Rockland.
The Chamber’s position is that cruise ship policies arising from the harbor commission should be focused on the managerial workings of cruise ship port visits, developing clear lines of communication and responsibilities that foster and support the stated goal in Rockland’s comprehensive plan of attracting cruise ships.
The harbor commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 13, at Rockland City Hall. Those interested can share their thoughts on efforts to grow Rockland’s cruise ship business.
There will be time for public comment at the beginning of this regular harbor commission meeting before the commission moves on to consider revisions and changes to the proposed cruise ship policy.
For information on the cruise ship industry, see:
ä Canada New England Cruise Symposium in Saint John, New Brunswick, June 2010 www.bayoffundy2010.com/.
ä Cruise Lines International Association website, www.cruising.org/.
ä Cruise Maine Coalition website, www.cruisemaineusa.com/.
As a result of a successful first effort hosting a large cruise ship, the city has recognized the need to develop and implement a policy to balance the needs of the city, region and this emerging industry.
After months of meetings and public input, the City Council was presented with a draft, Cruise Ship Operations Policy, along with amendments for consideration at a special workshop June 16.
The amendments include size definitions and limitations that were not in the original version and are the result of input from residents and marine-related businesses that have expressed the opinion that the industry may have an adverse effect on the harbor and the area.
The original policy focuses on the mechanics of successfully accommodating both cruise ship passengers and other users of public facilities and does not impose any limitations on the sizes or number of cruise ships allowed to disembark passengers. The council took no action, though it did ask the commission to redefine further the amendments to that policy.
In March, the Rockland City Council adopted a new inclusive $4-per-passenger wharf fee for transient passenger-carrying vessels to cover the related costs to the city. At the same time, the council established a $2-per-passenger port development fee to be set aside for future development and redevelopment of the waterfront.
After considerable public comment, the council thanked the commission for its work and asked that members continue to work with interested parties to recommend revisions for in a final version being submitted to council for consideration. Based on the commission’s schedule, a revised draft will not likely be ready until the end of the summer.
Rockland’s 2002 Comprehensive Plan supports the development of the cruise industry.
The board of directors of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce opposes any effort to limit the frequency or ability of the cruise ships to use Rockland Harbor as a port of call.
Shari Closter is the interim executive director of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call 596-0376, e-mail shari@therealmaine.com or visit www.TheRealMaine.com.