Key West votes to ban mass cruise tourism

| 04/11/2020 | 41 Comments
Royal Caribbean ship at Key West

(CNS): Voters in Key West, Florida, supported curtailing mass cruise tourism in their ports in a down ballot referendum choice in Tuesday’s elections. While the majority of electors statewide showed that the environment was not their primary concern, as they voted for the re-election of President Donald Trump at the top of the ticket, residents of the island in the Straits of Florida voted to limit cruise capacity and arriving passengers, and to prioritise ships with the best environmental record.

The results of these referendums could lead to a ban on most of the cruise ships operated by major players like Carnival and Royal Caribbean, as the amendment to local laws will prohibit ships with more than 1,300 passengers from docking in Key West.

The votes will also see a cap on daily cruise ship visitors of 1,500 as well as giving priority to cruise lines with the best health and environmental records.

Despite the democratic vote, advocates for the cruise tourism sector are expected to challenge the referendums in court, claiming that not allowing most cruise ships could result in a $90 million loss to the city in lost jobs and income. Opponents’ efforts in court to stop the questions being on the ballot before the election failed.

The charter amendments were backed by the Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships, a grassroots movement of 2,500 petitioners who want to help protect the environment and improve quality of life.

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Category: Business, Tourism, USA, World News

Comments (41)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    not too many families to feed and support in key west….

    • Anonymous says:

      None here either. The industry does not exist and will not for the foreseeable future. Lots of jobs available in other sectors.

      • Anonymous says:

        When is government going to wake up to this reality? Does it really think we will be happy for people to be paid to watch Netflix forever? When does the retraining start?

        • Anonymous says:

          Why should it be up to the Government to pamper to the needs of the people? I don’t see that as the Government’s job nor should they be interfering in such areas. If you need training go out and find it and don’t expect everything to be handed to you on a plate.

          • Anonymous says:


          • Anonymous says:

            Why retrain of government pays me to do nothing?

          • Anonymous says:

            Ummmm… many people taking advantage of that, and a lot of them are not Caymanian!! Many of which use to edge out Caymanians for jobs and claim they already have these qualifications while they actually earning them and more on government dime. But no Ombudsman investigations!!!

          • Anonymous says:

            Admittedly gov could fix education though, given that’s the actual root of the issue.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are over 700 thousand people in Monroe County, which is the Keys..Cayman only has about 30,000 Caymanians..About 2000 of them work in the tourism business..Multiply that by 5 to include family members and it is about 10,000.

      Methinks Caymanians are getting screwed rather than getting their families feed by the Cruise Ship Pirates..

      • Anonymous says:

        About a thousand of your two thousand ain’t even from here. Same for about 6,000 of your 10,000. We have massively imported poverty in large part to sustain an environmentally and economically unsustainable blemish on our society, that damages better options including high end stay over tourism. It has also destroyed our capital as a functioning town. We need to face these facts and take the hard decisions to build for our better future, without mass cruise tourism.

  2. Anonymous says:

    And Oregon voted to decriminalize all drugs, these are very exciting times where people are waking up to realize cruise ships suck and taking the power from drug dealers and funneling money into treating addictions instead of jailing users is THE WAY YO BE. Cayman better put weed to the vote next year to keep up with first worlds.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Pointless comment about Trump.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Time for us to have a new referendum to do the same.

  5. Mark Morgan says:

    I live in Key West and when we got 4 big ships on our tiny island it was madness.

  6. Anon says:

    You could probably accomplish the same result by only allowing the passengers who have prebooked tours to disembark. That will ensure that anyone coming ashore has financially contributed.

    • Anonymous says:

      Restricting the bussiness to only pre-booked tours greatly limits the number of businesses benefiting and counter-intuitively increases the tourist density because everyone is now going to the same, more restricted, venues.

      We happened to do Key West by cruise last year. No pre-booked tour. Walked around, ate lunch, bought a few things in a few stores, call it US$150 spent between two people. So not letting us disembark would have helped only my wallet, not the businesses we went into. And none of those businesses looked to be on pre-booked tour itineraries.

      Restricting tourists to package tours would shift the ‘local’ side of the industry a lot.

      Also, if the intention of restricting to pre-booked tours only is to hit the same amount of tourism as the capacity limitation achieves, then who that really helps is the cruise ships. Since they can still advertise Key West but the assumption is that a lot more guests will stay on board.

      I understand your thinking but I don’t think it will work out as ‘fairly’ as a port/ship capacity limit.

      • Anonymous says:

        Better to raise the fees for landing. Chase away the budget cruises. Impose fines for health and safety records. Personally I would like them all gone but probably not realistic.

        We should design based upon what Cayman wants and that isn’t just money. Minimal negative impact to the marine environment. The right number of landed guests. Appropriate pay for local operators. The Covid shutdown is our best, and maybe only opportunity to reset thing to what we want, not the same old same old..

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you not see the part about “cruise lines with the best health and environmental records” ??
      Key information here..

      I love how our seas/oceans worldwide have come more alive since the cruise ships have not been sailing.
      That is definitely a thing and all down to this ships dumping all refuse over the side.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great plan in the situation we have here where the cruise lines charge passengers $70-$80 for a tour but only pay the local companies they use (most of whom employ ex-pats to keep their costs down) around $18? That not making a financial contribution to the community is it?

  7. Anonymous says:

    “.. as they voted for the re-election of President Donald Trump ..”

    almost 49% in Florida voted for Bidden

    • Anonymous says:

      I think they mean Monroe County but the outcome for that county was only 3,800 more votes for Trump than Biden (votes out of 47.5k votes in that county).

    • Anonymous says:

      so the statement is correct, as 51% voted for the re-election, Florida voted for Dirty Donald

    • says:

      49% is not a winning number.

  8. Anonymous says:

    We need to do the same here. What’s the point of docking over 12,000 people at a time and most of them barely buy anything? All they do is crowd the streets and litter everywhere. We’re better off focusing on where the money is really coming: stay over tourism.

  9. Green Meanie says:

    “While the majority of electors statewide showed that the environment was not their primary concern, as they voted for the re-election of President Donald Trump at the top of the ticket…” I suppose any vote that was not for the Green Party meets that description. A lot to unpack there.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Power to the People!

  11. Anonymous says:

    That’s called Democracy and maybe out leaders should put something on the ballot cause they sure aren’t putting the environment on it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’ve vacationed there a few times and this has been coming for a long while because the cruise ships were killing the stayover business in KW. The drunken passengers doing the ‘Duval Crawl’ all day turned the place into a zoo but never really spent much money.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Makes sense and something that should also be considered for Cayman.

  14. Anonymous says:

    We should do a similar thing here!

  15. Anonymous says:

    This is why Alden is afraid to hold the referendum he is now legally bound to hold. No corruption in Cayman my ass.

    • Anonymous says:

      6.40pm Only if he submits the same plans . A different set of plans will require a different petition.

  16. Anonymous says:


  17. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful news!
    We can do the same. We should not be letting them back.

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