Rockland Maine Locals Not On-Board With Cruise Ships
As the city of Rockland, Maine welcomed the 2,500 passengers of the Queen Mary II Tuesday, some locals have expressed concern over the economics of allowing cruise ships to call in Rockland.
Many locals are concerned that the small city of Rockland is too small to accommodate large crowds brought upon by cruise ships. Another issue is the potential pollution that cruise ships can bring to the pristine Maine environment.
"We cannot have 5,000 people come over our threshold and not incur some kind of cost," said Louise MacLellan-Ruf, a member of the Rockland Harbor Management Commission. Her committee is studying the cruise ships' impact, and it will make recommendations to Rockland city leaders.
In the mean time, the city of Rockland has put in place some temporary restrictions. These restrictions include only allowing 6 large cruise ships per year, and a 3,000 passenger limit.
The Responsible Tourism Alliance has been arguing to city council that cruise ships are not worth the value that they will add to the local economy. They have been spreading information and statistics on pollution brought by the ships, and the economic downfall associated with that.
I honestly believe that there wouldn’t be as large of an environmental impact as they are saying there will be if ships are allowed. Many ships today, new and old, are equipped with scrubbers that remove many of the harmful chemicals that come from smoke stacks. Cruise lines are leaning more and more towards environmental safety these days in order to keep not only the ports they sail to clean and healthy, but the passengers too. If the ports of call become extremely polluted, then cruise lines will have no where to sail to. On the same note, if passengers decide that it is unsafe to be trapped on a floating piece of metal producing harmful chemicals for days at a time, then they aren’t going to cruise anymore. Both of these scenarios both end up harming the industry as a whole.
Look at ports like Cozumel or Key West. They have multiple cruise ships everyday that bring thousands of people. To me, personally having been to these ports multiple times, they don’t seem like they have taken a hit environmentally, if any at all, from cruise ship pollution. However, I see where the locals are coming from. Maine has been able to maintain a beautiful environment for many years now, and the threat of something coming in to ruin it can be scary.
Another major issue in Rockland is that the harbor’s aging infrastructure is too old and small for the large crowds brought by cruise ships. Locals are concerned that the public landing would require millions of dollars in improvements, to accommodate these kinds of crowds.
This isn’t the first time Maine has made the news for not wanting to allow cruise ships. I wrote an article a couple months back about Bar Harbor in Maine, who had the same worries. I think it will be interesting to see how these towns decide to go about these concerns.