Rockland to vote next week on limiting cruise ships

By Stephen Betts | Aug 07, 2018
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Rockland City Council will consider a limit on visits by cruise ships.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council will vote Monday, Aug. 13 on whether to set limits on cruise ship visits to the city's harbor.

There was considerable discussion about the details of the limits during the Monday, Aug. 6 meeting. The most discussion was on whether the limit should be based on the number of passengers or the number of berths (the number of people the vessel can carry including crew).

After the Monday night, Aug. 6 meeting, Mayor Valli Geiger said she would propose that the limit be based on passengers. The current plan is to have no restrictions on cruise ships of fewer than 500 passengers other than there can't be more than two per day.

Cruise ships of 500 to 2,500 passengers would be limited to 10 visits a year and those visits could not occur during the summer.

Harbor Management Commission member Louise MacLellan Ruf said the limits being proposed did not match the numbers recommended by the harbor management commission. She recommended that limits be based on berthing.

Councilor Ed Glaser said the discussions earlier this year of a possible moratorium on large cruise ships has resulted in a decline in ships seeking reservations in Rockland. Only three cruise ships are reserved for next year.

Geiger said the ad-hoc Harbor Management Plan Committee that was created earlier this year is not likely to have recommendations for at least a year. She said the harbor management plan adopted in 2010 must be updated in the interim.

Geiger said the city's waterfront facilities simply cannot accommodate the larger ships without restrictions.

The Harbor Management Plan Committee was created by the City Council in March after months of passionate debate about the benefits and detriments to Rockland from large cruise ships.

The separate Harbor Management Commission has expressed opposition to larger cruise ships for the past 11 years. The commission issued a report 11 years ago that said large cruise ships pollute the waters, damage lobster gear and increase crime in the communities where they stop.

MacLellan-Ruf said the harbor commission has waited 12 years for reasonable regulations.

The Ad-Hoc Harbor Management Plan Committee held its first meeting July 25. Councilor Ed Glaser was selected to serve as chair of the panel.

Glaser urged the group to reach a consensus on whatever recommendations are developed. He said if there were no consensus, getting approval for the recommendations from the City Council would be difficult.

Harbormaster Matt Ripley said at the July 25 meeting that the city needs to look at its waterfront infrastructure, such as the lack of public bathrooms.

The committee plans to meet with a consultant at its next meeting to discuss the scope of work he would perform.

Committee member Celia MacMillan questioned whether the consultant study would be worth the money. "Is this going to be another $20,000 survey where we waste money?" MacMillan asked.

Committee member Lynne Barnard said it would be important to do an environmental, as well as an economic survey.

The Plan Committee includes Glaser, Barnard, MacMillan, John Jeffers, Jennifer Rockwell, Christos Calivas, David Leon, Richard Whitman, David Grima, David Troup, and Kenneth "Casey" O'Hara.

The City Council is scheduled to vote Aug. 13 on the nomination of Isabella Feracci to join the Plan Committee.

Comments (17)
Posted by: Jim Kinnealey | Aug 10, 2018 13:46

Please do set limits on cruise ship visits! I think it would be wise to do an environmental and economic survey. ' Rockland What have you got to loose'. I started a business in Rockland in 1981. This year we celebrate our 37th of doing business in this great city. Rockland is Zooming right now. Let's not mess it up. I do quite a bit of business in Bar Harbor and I can testify when the big cruise ships are there it is impossible to enjoy the town. Too crowded and Too rude

Posted by: Lynne A Barnard | Aug 09, 2018 15:30

The opportunity to post comments on this article is fast reaching it's "use by date," but please if you are still reading and interested, take note of Anne Marie Quin's comment in support of our effort's here in Rockland.  She is expressing support from Bar Harbor as we fight this battle here. I'm sorry I didn't acknowledge her in my comment below but we should rejoice and appreciate that Bar Harbor's concerned citizens are standing by.  Thank you Anne Marie Quin.

Posted by: Lynne A Barnard | Aug 08, 2018 14:58

As a member of the Ad Hoc Harbor Management Plan Committee, I have two clarifications to make. One is that we chose Ed Glaser to be the Chair Pro-Temp until we have a fully established Committee in order to decide who will designated as the Chair.  This position is going to be a daunting task and is the equivalent of a full time job.  At the time we had our first meeting, one nominee had dropped out and has just this past week been replaced by Isabella Feracci of the Apprentice Shop.  My other clarification is that Louise MacClellan-Ruf is the Chair of the Harbor Management Commission.  Thank you so much Stephen Betts for your fair coverage of our progress so far.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 08, 2018 11:26

The only extremely negative impact on the lobstering and fishing industry is Federal and State governments!

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 08, 2018 11:18

In my opinion, the mayor has had her own agenda since she came on board in the city government.  I have seen some really wild suggestions over the past years from her.  My apologizes to the Ad-Hoc Harbor Management Plan Committee.   Cruise Ship report over 11 years ago?   WOW, that is a very long time not to look at something so profitable for only Main Street businesses.

Posted by: Anne Marie Quin | Aug 08, 2018 08:42

To the far-seeing, brave residents of Rockland who are struggling to keep the largest ships out of their beautiful harbor, congratulations! We in Bar Harbor have not been as vigilant. Learn from us before it’s too late. As you have wisely said, small numbers of smaller cruise ships are the best way to go.

Annemarie V. Quin

Bar Harbor

Posted by: Sarah Bone | Aug 07, 2018 16:13

I really hope that there are limits imposted on size and frequency of these ships - in particular the HUGE oceanliners. I don't feel these are going to make Rockland sustainable long term.

And what about the impact on lobstering and other fishing?? Surely these huge ships are massive pollutants.

Posted by: Alan Heal | Aug 07, 2018 12:56

Very soon I will be on a cruise and and although I don't have a lot to spend I will be leaving some.So Alaska I bet does not turn away those dollars. I implore you to use common sense and not restrict the cruise lines.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Aug 07, 2018 12:21

Thankful for the wide divergence of backgrounds on the Harbor Management Committee. Their task is not an easy one, yet am sure it will be well worth waiting to receive. KUDOS

Posted by: Edwin E Ecker | Aug 05, 2018 16:06

What a waste of energy and not to mention time and money to try to impede the prosperity that Rockland needs to survive the never ending influx of people from AWAY the seem to dictate the course that Rocklands future !

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 04, 2018 09:31

Steve Betts is correct in that " the ad-hoc harbor committee has NOT made any recommendations ".  So why is our mayor making her own ?  It seems as if our mayor has her own agenda and plans to supersede any recomendations the committee may make.   Love or hate the cruise ships, think we need to take a good hard look at all the pros and cons before we jump to a hasty decision.  We all saw this week the adverse effects of rushing to a quick decision by members of the festival board.  We have established a committee let them do their job and post their results so the council can ignore them once again.

Posted by: Peter Hill | Aug 03, 2018 20:10

Here is a city that cannot even afford to pave its crumbling streets turning away business and tourist dollars..

Posted by: Stephen Betts | Aug 03, 2018 16:10


The Ad-Hoc Harbor Management Plan Committee has made no recommendations. The Harbor Management Commission was the commission that issued the cruise ship report 11 years ago.

Posted by: Chris Merritt | Aug 03, 2018 12:53

This is ridiculous.  These cruise ships extend the season another month.  The City makes money for allowing them to anchor on the Harbor.  This is a bad decision.

Posted by: Chris Merritt | Aug 03, 2018 12:53

This is ridiculous.  These cruise ships extend the season another month.  The City makes money for allowing them to anchor on the Harbor.  This is a bad decision.

Posted by: Jim Gamage | Aug 03, 2018 10:10

But lets waive the fees for the Viking Ship and charge for tours?

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Aug 03, 2018 09:14

YEAH!!!   City government at it's BEST!!  (NOT)  Let the cruise ships come every year than, oops, I am sorry but you can not come anymore.  The larger cruise ships "increase crime in communities where they stop"?  Seriously?  Where did the Ad-Hoc Harbor Management Plan Committee get their information from?  Seems like the city government, over the last 10-15 years, tried to make Rockland into a Camden, only to find out that it will can not happen.  JEEZZZZZZ

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