(1:45 p.m. EDT) Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed into a law a measure that effectively ends Key West’s bid to cut back on cruise ship traffic. As a result, big ships will continue to have access to the popular port.
Lawmakers in both the Florida Senate and House had earlier voted to override the city’s local referendum limiting which ships can sail into port. The new Florida law says local authorities cannot pass ballot initiatives or referendums that limit maritime commerce, and is retroactive.
Last November, Key West voters overwhelmingly approved a three-ballot initiative that would have dramatically impacted cruise itineraries calling on the city.
One initiative would have capped the number of passengers and crew disembarking from cruise ships daily at 1,500. Another banned any ships carrying more than 1,300 onboard from docking in the city. The third measure gave docking priority to ships with the best health and safety records.
Wonder of the Seas Construction Update: Sea Trials
Wonder of the Seas Completes Sea Trials
Carnival Mardi Gras: Free Dining on the Lido Deck
Carnival Mardi Gras: RedFrog Tiki Bar & Summer Landing
Carnival Mardi Gras' Excel Suite and Loft 19
Live From Carnival's Mardi Gras: The French Quarter
BOLT: We Try Carnival Mardi Gras' Roller Coaster at Sea
NCL's Restart: What It's Like On The First Norwegian Cruise Ship Back in 16 Months
Here's What It's Like Onboard the First Large Cruise Ship to Alaska in 21 Months
Perfect Day at CocoCay: Here's How We Spent 2 DAYS at Royal Caribbean's Private Island
Freedom of the Seas: What's It Like Onboard a Test Cruise? (Cruise Critic & Royal Caribbean Blog
Live From Adventure of the Seas: What's the Same, What's Different and What's Better?
Here's What We Packed For Our Royal Caribbean Cruise (June 2021)
Celebrity to Restart from U.S. Homeport, PLUS Royal Caribbean Given Green Light for Test Cruises!
LIVE Interview with Frank Del Rio, NCLH President and CEO, About Company's "Safe to Sail" Campaign
Odyssey of the Seas -- From Steel Cutting to Delivery 2021
Video Of Odyssey Of The Seas Conveyance March 2021
Royal Caribbean Group Announces E-muster, Keyless Cabin Check-in And Other App Improvements
How to Make a Towel Animals Swans, Dogs and Elephants
Towel Animals with Carnival Cruise Line and Cruise Critic: How to Make Towel Swans
Towel Animals with Carnival Cruise Line and Cruise Critic: How to Make a Towel Dog
Towel Animals with Carnival Cruise Line and Cruise Critic: How to Make a Towel Elephant
Bolt - Top Deck Roller-Coaster at Sea on Carnival Mardi Gras
Silver Cove At Norwegian Cruise Line's Great Stirrup Cay
Norwegian Encore - Hull Art Reveal - Artist Eduardo Arranz Bravo
Royal Caribbean Odyssey Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft
Shipyard Tour: Royal Caribbean’s Symphony Of The Seas Gets Its Finishing Touches -- Video
Norwegian Bliss Virtual Tour - Why You Should Be Excited About Norwegian's Newest Ship
How To Make Carnival Cruise Line's Famous Warm Chocolate Melting Cake - Video
Adventures By Disney Seine River Cruises
Shaquille "Shaq" O'neal Named Chief Fun Officer Of Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line's "Choose Fun" Commercial
Harmony Of The Seas Video Tour – Inside Look At One Of Royal Caribbean’s Most Popular Cruise Ships
Symphony Of The Seas Video Tour
Carnival Splendor Photo Tour
Norwegian Breakaway Photo Tour
Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum Of The Seas Celebrates Keel Laying
Sea Beyond: An Innovative Cruise Experience By Royal Caribbean
Carnival Conquest Photo Tour
Carnival Pride Photo Tour
Carnival Dream Photo Tour
Sneak Peak At Symphony Of The Seas
Carnival Sunshine Photo Tour
The Waterfront On Norwegian Cruise Line - Video
Carnival Breeze Photo Tour
3 Reasons To Book An Adventures By Disney Cruise Tour - Video
What’s Your Size? Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class Vs. Majesty Of The Seas - Video
Norwegian Getaway Photo Tour
Inside Look: The Haven On Norwegian Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean's Oasis Of The Seas Photo Tour
The rules would have eliminated visits altogether from lines such as Carnival, Disney, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean that make up the bulk of Key West's cruise ship traffic. Smaller ships, including luxury vessels, would be allowed to continue calling on the city. Prior to the pandemic, about a third of Key West’s three million visitors arrived by cruise ship.
Among the arguments in support of the Key West ban were that overnight visitors typically spend more money in the local community than cruise passengers visiting for only a few hours. Environmental concerns were also cited.
The Key West measures spurred other communities from Bar Harbor, Maine to Juneau to rethink their own reliance on the cruise industry. However, a petition drive to limit ships in Juneau failed to gain traction.
There are indications Key West may not be ready to give up its fight. In response to Governor Ron DeSantis signing Senate Bill 1194, the Key West City Commission has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, July 6, to consider the city’s direction on cruise ships moving forward, according to a posting on the city website.
“In November of 2020, a citywide referendum added limiting language to the City’s Charter,” the posting reads. “The Commission will hear from the legal department and explore the best way to move forward.”
Cruise Critic will update this story as more information becomes available.