Key West bans large cruise ships

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On Election Day, Key West passed three ballot initiatives designed to limit the impact of cruise ships on everyday life, with 63 percent of residents voting to ban ships carrying over 1,300 passengers from docking. It was also decided that only 1,500 cruise ship passengers would be allowed to disembark per day, and that priority for disembarkation would be given to ships with the best environmental and health records.

Each cruise line’s environmental record will be assessed by the number of environmental violations, penalties, and fines it has received. Key West will also take into account each cruise line’s inspection scores and violations from the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program.

Key West City Clerk Cheri Smith told USA Today, “The people of Key West are thrilled to finally have some common-sense restrictions in place after 30 years of unregulated cruising that has damaged our environment, hampered economic growth, and threatened public health.”

Regardless of the new measures, Key West won’t be receiving any cruise ship visitors until 2021 due to the industry voluntarily choosing not to sail in US waters through the end of 2020.