Tell Me A Little About Key West
Key West is a pretty small island. Its about 3 by 5 miles. Its densely populated, about 25,000 residents. And pre-pandemic, we got about 2 million tourists a year. Cruise ships made up almost half of that. So it can feel pretty crowded sometimes.;
I should also say, there was a study done by the cruise ship industry that showed that the cruise ship visitors were responsible for about 7% of the tourism spending in Key West.
Cruise Ships / Marine Services
There have been some exciting changes to the Citys approach to managing our waterfront. The concept of these changes called for the consolidation of City waterfront responsibilities. This includes the deep-water port activities of Cruise Ships and of Navy vessel activity coordination.;
The objective of the Plan is to make our City waterfront operate more efficiently, as well as effectively. As the Citys mission statement states, we are ” to maximize services to our customers in the most cost effective way.” Not only does the consolidation make for a more efficient and effective operation, it also provides for better accountability and a more consistent approach in the interpretations of policy and procedures affecting the waterfront environment.
Trumans Little White House
Another home that requires some attention would be the Little White House. This home was originally a naval stations command headquarters during World War 1 and World War 2. Harry Truman, the 33rd US president, called this house, home for several winters.
Truman visited Florida 11 times and used to reside in this little white house. The home is currently owned by the state of Florida but managed by non-profit institutions as a museum with rich historical artifacts.
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Key West Florida Weather
The Florida Key regions normally have a tropical climate with the dry season running in late fall. Some months like August and September occasionally experience Hurricane disruptions. Best time to cruise through would be in winter or early spring when the tropical weather is calm.
Will Cruise Ships Return To Key West
A state legislators attempt to nullify a Key West referendum on cruise ships moved a step closer to passage on March 10.
A majority of Key West voters elected in November to reduce Key Wests pre-pandemic cruise ship industry by about 92%, compared to pre-pandemic port visits.
With ballots as their voices, those voters about 62% of them ; told city lawmakers to change the citys charter so it would prohibit cruise ships that carry more than 1,300 total people, not just passengers, from docking in Key West. The charter change would also mean no more than 1,500 people can come ashore in Key West on a given day and gives docking priority to ships with the best environmental records.
Then the Florida legislature convened on March 2 and Sen. Jim Boyd, a Republican from Bradenton, filed Senate Bill 426, which would nullify the Key West charter changes by taking away port cities authority to turn away certain ships, based on size, passenger count or other characteristics.
Boyds bill also expressly nullifies any local referendum or ballot initiative to change a citys port operations. The bill applies to four of Floridas 15 ports that are owned by cities and not counties Key West, Pensacola, Panama City and St. Petersburg.
The Florida senate transportation committee on Wednesday morning passed Senate Bill 426 with a 5-2 vote. Senator Keith Perry was absent for the vote.;
Who supports SB 426?
Both were quoted by FloridaPolitics.com on March 3 as supporting it.;
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Duval Street And Other Major Streets In The Old Town
Parallel to Wall Street, Front Street is a good reference thoroughfare as it connects to all other major streets in the Old Town – Duval Street, Whitehead Street, Greene Street or Caroline Street. If docked at Pier B, the cruise traveler will be exiting right into Front Street by the Customs House Museum and next to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum.
The southern section of Front Street is a dead-end, although the Truman Little White House is close by, but at the northern end the cruise travel will find the ‘off-the-beaten-track’ A&B Marina – a quaint harbor with very nice restaurants and a boardwalk that will take you to the Historical Seaport.
Harbor Wak in Key West
The Turtle Museum and a handful of well-known restaurants/bars are found at the Historical Seaport. At the northern end of the port, you will find the Flagler Station Museum.
Flagler Station Museum in Key West
Both Greene Street and Caroline Street also end by the Historical Seaport but the later doesn’t have much to see along the way besides the Richard Kemp House.
Duval Street in Key West
Duval Street is certainly the most famous of all streets in Key West, known for its lively nightlife and profusion of stores with well-known brands, one of a kind shops, boutiques, art galleries, and souvenirs.
Sloppy Joeâs in Key West
Whistle Bar in Key West
How Will This Affect Royal Caribbean Cruises
The newly certified laws will prohibit any Royal Caribbean ship from being able to visit Key West, since the capacity of even the smallest Royal Caribbean International ship exceeds the prohibition set forth by the prohibition on a ship with a capacity of more than 1,300 passengers.
The bigger question is what legal hurdles will these new laws face, as even the Safer, Cleaner Ships organization recognizes private businesses in Key West may challenge these laws.
A few Royal Caribbean ships were small enough to dock in Key West, such as Brilliance of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas.
There has been no official word on what might happen to these itineraries, and if visits to Key West will be replaced by another port visit or a sea day.
In 2019, Key West had its busiest year with 417 cruise ship visits that brought 965,000 passengers.
Rough Waters In Key West As City Cruise Industry And State Lawmakers Tangle Over Its Future
It was another balmy day in paradise when Key West, Fla., voters decided theyd had enough of the thousands of here-today, gone-tonight tourists who regularly pour from giant cruise ships onto the streets of their iconic city.
I am so furious that I can hardly see straight, said Kate Miano, owner of the luxe Gardens Hotel, where century-old brick walkways wind past orchid-festooned trees. We battled the big cruise ship companies, and now theyre taking away my vote? I cant understand how they can possibly do that.
Yes, they can, say legislators now meeting in Tallahassee. And theres a good chance they will soon succeed.
We cant simply have a group of 10,000 people closing down the port of Key West and holding the state of Florida hostage, Rep. Spencer Roach said at a hearing this month, his number referring to the total votes cast in support of the three city charter changes.
The maneuvering in the state Capitol has at times been both blatant and blundering, marked by dueling statistics, charges of betrayal, threats of retribution and alternating predictions of economic or environmental doom. It has fueled editorial outrage in newspapers statewide with Roach, one of the bills sponsors, accused with other Republicans of trampling on democracy.
Port Of Key Westkey West Fl
The Port of Key West, Floridas most southern port, consists of three docking facilities: Mallory Square, the Navys Outer Mole Pier, and the privately-owned Pier B at the Margaritaville Key West Resort. These facilities constitute one of the busiest cruise ports of call in the nation and one of the states strongest and most sustained ferry-port operations. During 2018-19 approximately 393 ships and 913,323 passengers visited Key West. In 2019-20 the City expects 416 ships and 890,000 passengers. The port hosts cruise ships from Miami, Port Everglades, Canaveral, Tampa and Jacksonville as well as ferries from Fort Myers and Marco Island.
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Historical Landmarks Museums And Religious Sites
The Southernmost Point of the Continental US, an anchored concrete buoy, is one the most famous landmarks in Key West. But there are several others less photographed equally charming. Historical landmarks like the Customs House Museum, the Lighthouse and Keepers Quarters, the Fort East Martello Museum, the Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, and the Curry Mansion Inn have a unique charm.
Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church
And a handul of small museums display unique exhibits worth a visit: Turtle Museum, Oldest House Museum, Flagler Station Museum, Richard Kemp House, Hellings House Museum and USCGC Ingham Maritime Museum. Two religious sites must also be mentioned – the Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church and the catholic Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea.
The Beaches In Key West
Unless you are planning to book a full-day excursion to the Bahia Honda State Park or the Dry Tortugas National Park, the cruise traveler that is an avid beachgoer may be a bit disappointed to discover that Key West doesn’t have the spectacular type of beaches found in Caribbean Islands like Grand Cayman or Antigua. There are a few very nice beaches but none that compares to Magens Bay or Orient Beach .
Beach in Key West
There are a few small sand strips with shallow waters and nice beach-bars like South Beach or Lagerheads Beach Bar in the Old Town at the end of Simonton Street, but the best are slightly off track. The good news is that on the larger beaches you will find all sorts of watersports, renting of chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, paddle-boards. All have public restrooms, nice seaside bars, and restaurants. But you should expect shallow waters and, depending on the season, sometimes rocky and with seaweeds.
Higgs Beach in Key West
In the Fort Zachary Taylor Park, besides the Historical Fort, you will find one of the nicest beaches in Key West and the closest to the Cruise Port – slightly over 1-mile . It is great for snorkeling. Entrance to the park is $2.50 per person if walking or biking . Higgs Beach is on the Atlantic side, east of Duval Street or 2-miles from the Cruise Port. Great for cruise travelers with kids, Higgs Beach has a distinctive wooden pier and lots of watersports are available.
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Large Cruise Ships Are Set To Return To Key West
Florida lifts its ban on large cruise ships in Key West.
Large cruise ships have won their battle with idyllic Key West.
Key West residents approved a ban on cruise ships carrying more than 1,500 passengers in November, a time when the industry was effectively shut down by the pandemic. But with cruise lines sailing from the U.S. again, Florida’s governor has overturned the law and is prohibiting the state’s cities from attempting to limit ship traffic in the future.
That decision paves the way for major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean to return to the Florida Keys as cruises restart sailings from U.S. ports. Under the law Key West voters approved last year, Royal Caribbean’s entire fleet which includes several of the world’s largest cruise ships would have been banned.
A similar battle against cruise ship traffic is being waged in Venice, where the cruises are also winning. About a month ago, the Associated Press reported that Venice residents were surprised by the sight of a large ship in a Venetian canal for the first time in more than a year, despite the passage of a law banning big vessels from the heart of one of Italy’s most charming cities.
Venice is continuing to fight, teaming up with celebrities like Mick Jagger, Tilda Swinton, Wes Anderson, and Francis Ford Coppola to protect the city of canals. “Venice is suffering, and we, citizens of the world, cannot remain deaf to her cries,” an open letter signed by supporters reads, according to the AP.
What Do Key Wests New Referendums Say
It is important to understand exactly what the new cruise ship referendums in Key West are in order to fully grasp how they will impact Disney Cruise Lines fleet the Disney Dream, the Disney Fantasy, the Disney Magic, and the Disney Wonder.
As per the Herald, these new restrictions for cruise ships were passed by Key West voters:
- Limit the number of daily cruise ship visitors at 1,500. Voters approved this by about 63%.
- Prohibit cruise ships with 1,300 passengers or more from docking. This passed with about 60% of the vote.
- Give docking priority to cruise lines that have the best health and environmental records. This passed with about 81% of the vote.
Two of Disneys ships the Dream and the Fantasy are unable to make port in Key West due to their size. They are too large for the ports channel. The upcoming Titan class Disney Wish is even larger, so it will not dock in Key West either for logistical reasons.
However, the Disney Wonder and the Disney Magic currently have 38 Key West, Florida calls scheduled collectively. Disney Cruise Lines official website has additional details about these cruises.
At this time, both the Wonder and the Magic which each have a capacity over 2,700 will be unable to dock.
DCL offers these details about visiting Key West as a port of call:
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Voter Referendum Would Have Limited Cruise Ship Calls
After the voters of Key West made their decision at the ballot box in November, the Greater Key West Chamber of Commerce warned that the new restrictions would mean reducing cruise ship calls down to 22 and just 11,000 passengers. Thats a far cry from the 400 ships and nearly 1 million cruise passengers who visited the city in 2019.;
The state argued that Floridas seaports are a vital part of the overall economy and allowing local governments to set their own regulations would have an adverse affect on their economic value.;
Key West city officials have announced theyll hold a special city commission at City Hall on July 6th at 5pm to discuss the situation.;
Do You Have Anything Else You Want To Add About It That I Didnt Ask
Theres been this tension between what you would call mass tourism and the higher end resort tourism in Key West, for as long as Ive been here, you know, 30 years. That this is an elitist move, that the people who support this dont want, you know, poor people, essentially, coming to Key West. You know, these are people who obviously would never be able to afford a $436 a night hotel room. You know, its a terrible thing to say, you cant come here, unless you can afford that. And cruise ships are really where that comes to a head.
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Hemingway’s Home And Other Museums
The Hemingway Home and Museum is a must see along with landmarks and museums such as the Truman Little White House, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and the Tennessee Williams Key West Exhibit.
Aquarium in Key West
For the cruise traveler with children there are many interesting attractions, such as the Key West Aquarium, the Shipwreck Treasure Museum, the Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, the Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden, the Nancy Forrester Garden, the Audubon House and Tropical Gardens, or the Ripleyâs Believe It or Not!
Navys Outer Mole Pier And Shuttle Bus
Finally, when there are more than two ships in port, the Navyâs Outer Mole Pier is where the other will dock. Those that have been in Key West before and docked downtown complain when docking at the Outer Mole because it is not right by the Old Town. However, its location is just a5-minute shuttle ride way from Old Town, and all cruise lines provide a shuttle.
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Florida Governor Signs Bill To Overrule Key West Cruise Ship Ban
Key West’s cruise ship ban is apparently no more.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed;FL CS/CS/CS/SB 1194 Transportation Bill, which includes a provision that would not allow local referendums to impact commerce in Florida ports.
In November 2020,;Key West residents voted to approve a limit on cruise ship traffic;to Key West. The three proposals;effectively ban large cruise ships from Key West, such as the entire fleet of Royal Caribbean vessels.
Key West’s referendums;limited cruise ship visitors to a total of 1,500 per day; prohibited ships with a capacity of 1,300 or more from disembarking passengers; and gave priority docking to cruise lines with the best environmental and health records.
S. 1194 includes new legislation that says;a ‘local ballot initiative or referendum may not restrict maritime commerce’ in Florida ports ports.
The new law says;a local ballot initiative or referendum may not restrict ships based on “vessel type, size, number, or capacity.”
It also does not allow prohibiting a ship based on “number, origin, nationality, embarkation, or disembarkation of passengers or crew.”
Originally,;Florida State Senator Jim Boyd of District 21 introduced a bill to overturn Key West’s ban, but that bill ended up stuck in the Florida House.
State Senator Boyd indicated in the bill that allowing cities to have its own rules about “maritime commerce” could create a problem for the state.