ROCKLAND – More than 12,500 passengers and ship employees will visit Rockland Harbor between September 13 and October 20 of this year. The cruise ships bringing them pay the city $8 per passenger. Some Rockland residents want the fee to be higher. Others believe that a fee increase would deter future business.
Therefore, at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 2, members of the Harbor Management Commission and City Council will continue the discussion in council chambers prior to the regular agenda-setting meeting.
The community and other stakeholders are invited to join the discussion.
Currently, the commercial vessels using the municipal piers pay a dockage fee of $55 per foot per season for the vessels, which, according to Harbor Master Matt Ripley, range from 200 feet to 1100 feet. Those vessels requiring a United States Coast Guard-approved secure facility pay $4 per passenger, with an additional Port Development Fee of $4 per passenger.
In recent months the Harbor Management Commission has suggested increasing the fees to $5 per passenger for the anchorage fee, and another $5 per passenger for the tendering fee to the public landing.
During the August council meeting, proponents of the fee increase used the increase as a way to cap the amount of visiting vessels – and therefore, maintain a certain quality to the downtown area.
Other area business representatives discussed increases in admissions and sales when cruise ships are in port.
To provide a sense of welcome to those passengers arriving this year, Pen Bay Chamber of Commerce staff and volunteers greet and assist shore goers starting at or before 9 a.m.
The Chamber and a few local organizations are also providing maps and a special free, in-town shuttle service for passengers, which will be available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It runs a continuous loop route with drop offs and pick-ups at the Harbor Master's Office, the public restrooms on Tillson Avenue, and Ferry Park on the north end of Main Street.
Those cruise ships arriving between September 13 and October 20 are:
*Vision of the Seas, of Royal Caribbean Cruises, accommodating 2,416 passengers will visit a total of four times this fall: September 13, September 26, October 4, October 20, according to a Rockland Main Street, Inc., press release.
*Pearl Mist, of Pearl Seas, accommodating 210 passengers, was in port on September 21.
*Silver Whisper, of Silver Seas Cruises, accommodating 382 passengers, will be in port on October 15.
*Norwegian Gem, of Norwegian Cruise Lines, accommodating 2,394 passengers, will be in port on October 19.
Anyone interested in being a volunteer greeter may contact Elizabeth Burrell at 207-596-0376 or Elizabeth@CamdenRockland.com.