In this June 4, 2010, file photo, the Maasdam, a 1258-passenger cruise ship, sits at anchor in Frenchman's Bay off Bar Harbor. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

As towns continue to debate the merits of cruise tourism, Maine activists are joining a global group looking to reform the cruise ship industry.

The Global Cruise Activist Network launched in September. It was started by two women, one from Alaska and one, Ruth Woodbury Starr, from Maine, who manages a hotel in Rockland, according to its website.

At a virtual news conference on Wednesday, members of the group unveiled 13 broad principles they would like the industry to follow, including a commitment for cruise companies to refrain from interfering in local policy decisions, to stop contributing to climate change, to do a better job at protecting passengers from crime and to improve working conditions for employees.

David Weeda of Bucksport, who has recently started to support the group’s efforts, said as Bucksport reimagines its post-mill economy, plans have been floated for making it a stop on the cruise ship circuit.

“The impact on the environment has to be very carefully scrutinized and the impact on cultural life of our communities. And right now we’re dealing with the global pandemic and COVID and I think there has to be some great care when we start opening up our communities to large numbers of tourists,” Weeda said.

Adrienne Caldwell of Bucksport said she has become alarmed at the prospect of big ships visiting the Penobscot River estuary, where she said water quality is already a concern after years of mill operation and a new fish farm in the works.

“Where are they going to release their waste? I just don’t see how it could be done,” she said.

Cruise ships have generated controversy in many coastal communities. Advocates have said the industry brings needed visitor dollars to shore and island economies, and the mode of travel helps cut down on road congestion in places that become choked with cars in the summer, such as Bar Harbor.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.