Rockland could start courting big cruise ships to boost revenue

ROCKLAND, Maine — Rockland could begin to actively contact major cruise lines and encourage them to visit the city in order to generate more annual revenue from passenger fees.

The idea was raised by Rockland Mayor Ed Glaser Wednesday night during a workshop focused on finding additional revenue streams. The Harbor Master and City Manager will ultimately have to determine whether the city pursues this approach. But Glaser said reaching out directly to cruise lines would give the city greater control over the types of ships that dock in the port and generate more than $100,000 a year in passenger fees.

As Bar Harbor seeks to reduce the number of large cruise ships visiting its port, Glaser and Harbor Master Ryan Murry said there is an opportunity to encourage some of them to Rockland, within visiting limits. that the city has already established.

“The question really is how much do we want to encourage cruise ship traffic or do we just want to let that happen and I think we should go out and see if we can generate some interest,” the official said. Rockland Mayor Ed Glaser.

Whether or not Rockland should accommodate large cruise ships has been a burning question in recent years.

In 2018, the city set limits on the number of large ships that could call at Rockland Harbour. Currently, only six cruise ships with more than 500 passengers can call at Rockland annually, and visits are limited to the months of September and October. Small cruise ships with fewer than 500 passengers can dock at any time, as long as they don’t exceed the two-per-day limit.

The pandemic has largely suspended major cruise ship visits to Maine. In 2019, only one ship with more than 500 passengers called at Rockland.

With the number of large ships the city naturally attracts below the set visit limit, Glaser said the city has room to accommodate more.

Rockland charges large cruise ships $10 per passenger, which means a cruise ship with around 2,000 passengers on board ― the size of some of the larger ships that visit Rockland ― would generate $20,000 in revenue for the city. .

With Rockland not booking larger cruise ships to fill its limit, Glaser and Murry said the city was losing potential revenue.

“I think it’s a missed opportunity for the city, just the simple fact that [cruise lines are] ready to pay the bills if you give them. So I think it would be a dramatic increase in revenue if we tried to pursue some of these ships that Bar Harbor is trying to get rid of,” Murray said.

By taking the initiative to reach out to cruise lines, instead of just waiting for them to approach the city, Glaser said Rockland can work to attract companies that have better environmental credentials.

“One of the problems we have, if you take them willy-nilly, any of them can come in. […] but there are cruise ships that are environmentally friendly [and] sustainably better than other cruise lines,” said Glaser.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still causing uncertainty for cruise ship visits, it’s unclear if any large ships will stop in Rockland this year. Currently, only one has requested a stop in Rockland, according to Murray, although no tours have been officially booked.

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