Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Jewel of the Seas to Continue Rockland Calls
The small 8,000 inhabitant coastal town of Rockland, Maine and cruise industry giant Royal Caribbean International had been at odds on a "head tax" increase that the town's City Council had put into effect.
Last week, the City Council reversed a decision to raise the per-passenger fees for cruise ships 600%, from $1 to $6. We brought you the original story as part of our article, Cruise Passengers There's a Price on Your Head.
Royal Caribbean objected to the increase because it had planned the port visit well, in advance and had budgeted based on the $1 per passenger fee. The City Council was trying to limit cruise ship calls because they had feared negative impact of thousands of people descending on the town. They now admit that their decisions were based on misinformation in the media about the cruise industry's environmental record and crime.
Shari Closter, the interim executive director of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, which has its office in Rockland, said "there was a large amount of what she called misinformation about the cruise industry out there. Perhaps more damaging, in some cases there was no information at all".
Closter has been providing the town's City Council with cruise industry information and also informed the business community about the situation. They had not been aware of the council's decisions. A task force has been formed to study the situation since the town is interested in increased revenue from tourism. There has to be a balance between increased revenue and the costs associated with those additional tourists.
We will continue to monitor this story as well as similar ones. As the cruise industry continues to expand into new ports of call, many towns like Rockland, will be faced with similar decisions.
So, for now, the Jewel of the Seas, and the 2,504 passengers she carries, will be stopping in the quaint coastal town of Rockland, Maine. You might want to plan a visit to this part of New England for the upcoming fall sailing season.