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Key West Voters Approve Ban on Large Cruise Ships

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What gets me are the people who think Key West is some sleepy little town that without cruise ships will go back to being Hemingway-esque.

You have an international airport, spring breakers up the wazoo, and enough tourists from the Southeast US to make it one of the top tourist destinations in the USA. 

Every city has its set of problems, cruise ships were not one of them for Key West.

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On 11/4/2020 at 11:53 AM, karl_nj said:

Bummer.  I had always wanted to visit Key West, but never got around to it.  I figured visiting via cruise ship would have been my best bet; i don't really envision myself flying to Florida, renting a car, and driving all the way down to Key West.  Oh well,  plenty of other places to visit and spend money.

You should actually consider doing the drive. I am currently numb to it after doing the trip every Fri and Sun back and forth for the past decade or so but it’s quite the drive. Once you get off the mainland the overseas highway is very scenic. Key West’s charm cannot accurately be captured in a 4 hour cruise stop. There’s so much to see and do that you would need many return trips to experience it all. 



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On 11/4/2020 at 12:35 PM, twangster said:

I've looked at this before.  Paris, France was a cheaper ticket.  

I have driven an RV along the Keys several times and stayed on a few of them.  I've also rented a convertible and driven the Keys after a cruise (because flying from KW was price prohibitive).

Key West is not a focus destination.  Few people will make a vacation dedicated to KW if they haven't be so inclined before.  That all but eliminates the air option for most.  Air travel is not going to increase with this change, those that flew before will continue to do so such as timeshare owners.

Some tourism businesses will take a bit hit.  Hotels will see no change from this change.

The people have spoken.  They want it to be a sleepy mostly locals only island.   Some tourism business will close, others will see a decline in business, others will see no change.   Bottom line this is what the voters want.

100%. The local conchs are very anti tourist especially since the start of COVID19. Key West is pricy and most of the service staff catering to tourism cannot make end meet. It’s a constant battle between the wealthy transients trying to restore the small island vibe and the reality of the rest of the islands residents fighting to bring the tourists back so they can afford their rent. Let me also point out the local government seriously sucks (trust me I know). 

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On 11/4/2020 at 1:23 PM, cruisellama said:

Guess I'm not surprised.  They get enough excitement with spring breakers, and a ship can easily take over the town.  Folks move there to live a "low key" life (pun intended), and they really don't need tourist dollars to keep their restaurants going..

They actually do need to tourism dollars really bad. KW is hurting. The absence of large ships will further cripple the economy. KW has not been the same since March. 

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Tourist $$ won't go to 0 but will be metered back.   They'll run a "boutique" economy with the drive-in/ferry/fly- in tourists and smaller ships etc.  There's also a visiting military population that deploy for ops out of the NAS to fill in lulls. But the locals do want their quiet streets.  If they run into a revenue issue, they'll jack up their rates.  There's a similar situation in Monterrey CA.  Numbers of cruise ships visiting the port are limited.  Just means its harder to visit by cruise ship, but you can always fly/drive in..

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On 11/4/2020 at 3:47 PM, Rose City Cruiser said:

The 4-hour drive from Miami is not too bad if you plan on arriving a couple days pre/post cruise.  

Depending on which direction the "tide" goes, maybe possibly Cuba will be opened up again?  Majesty/Empress will have purpose again.

This was something we were considering prior to our (cancelled) Symphony cruise last summer but in between switching jobs and lack of vacation time we couldn't justify the extra couple of days. 

The catamaran option seems interesting to me and I'll have to look into it if/when the border opens (non-loophole edition) and I can look at heading south again. 

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On 11/4/2020 at 12:53 PM, dr martini said:

Really a bummer, but at the same time that island can be really packed (like Saint Thomas, Nassau, others).  It's certainly a debatable, subjective opinion and everyone has different preferences.... I agree with the unfortunate sentiment that the real winners are the lawyers (as with a lot of things). 


I would add that there's another sea faring option and that is to take the Key west Express, a couple hundred passenger catamaran ferry that goes from southwest florida.  I am not an employee or anything, I'm not getting paid haha but I can say that I have taken it several times and will again.  It's a fun two or three hour trip and you can go down and back in a day or across multiple days.  The Catamaran itself is newer, clean and has a great three deck setup with food court, bar, different seating layouts....it's a great option if you're like me and the many other midwesterners who are in Fort Myers/Sarasota/Naples FL often.  If you look at a map, the way the keys curl back to the southwest, it's actually a pretty straight shot as the bird flies.  https://www.keywestexpress.net/


That actually sounds like a great idea.  My in-laws are snowbirds and we could fly into Tampa & visit with them, head to KW via this for a day or two, sail back to the in-laws, spend more time with them, and fly home.  

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It seems similar to what the Bahama's was trying to do.  They want to say they don't want the business because there are too many people.  Yet the ships that would fit don't want to go there anyway.  Eventually the local's will see places that only thrived because of the ships coming through close up and when it's their favorite restaurant they always went to on a birthday or anniversary that is the one that closes they will complain and moan.  They will also likely have people who were once able to make a living move away because the jobs they made great money at don't do a quarter of the business they used to.  It will heavily effect their economy to say the least.


In 5 years or less they will be repealing it or thinking about it.


For me personally I don't see it as a loss.  I would much rather just head out to Florida and spend a couple weeks visiting places than to stop in on a cruise.  To me it's kinda like going to another town.  I can do it any time I want and don't have to make plans ahead of time by a few months.  If I can technically drive there I would also much rather do that.  I often see itinerary that is stopping in the US and for me it's a waste of a day.  I would rather stay on the water during that time and have a closer stop at a different port.  Plus if I am in Florida I will probably be planning to spend a few days being underwater for a few hours seeing wrecks or reefs.

For instance I can see the stop in Key West being turned into a second stop in the Bahama's when the ships come out of New Orleans which will be much more attractive to a lot of people from the US anyway.  And the stuff going out of MD and NJ are stopping in Orlando and Charleston most of the time.  The only way I see these being attractive for a lot of people is if they are traveling from outside the US and taking a cruise, otherwise if it's a 7 or 8 hour drive (not to mention the train ride that is also possible in that area) who really wants to go down and spend 8 hours off the cruise ship in Charleston or Port Canaveral?  The worst one that I find is this one https://www.royalcaribbean.com/cruises/itinerary/8-night-southeast-coast-perfect-day-from-baltimore-on-grandeur/GR08BWI-3213887477?sail-date=2021-03-26&currency=USD&country=USA where you end up spending almost 20 hours futzing around in US ports...  Kick them both to the curb and along with CoCo Cay you could easily turn that into a stop at Labadee and Falmouth IMHO.  Which would be much more attractive to me for an 8 day trip, there would be one less stop but an extra day on the water.  

The bad thing for Key West is once the cruise lines make changes they will probably find they make a little more cash dumping them and when the decision is changed back the lines won't really be interested in making the stop anyway.

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The drive down is usually beautiful and fun, best done at a lesurely pace.  KW is a lot of fun, and is definitely different when ships are not in port.  

I was scheduled to drive down tomorrow and stay a few days but TS Eta had other ideas 🤬


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Exactly, make the trip at your own pace.  Can head there when the weather is good and take some time.


Cruise's are nice for some places that are a little smaller and for a quick chance to test things out then go for a longer trip later on.  My first cruise I actually dropped off some bags in Jamaica so I didn't have to pay to transport them on a plane. I was in Jamaica for two weeks a couple months later and did my advanced open water certifications while I spent some time just knocking around MoBay.  There were a few days where I spent most of the day just chilling on a hammock.  

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