In Portland, the fate of cruise ships is on the ballot


Portland City Council voted Monday to put five local referendums on the ballot in November, allowing residents to vote on a series of initiatives put forth by the Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. One of the referendums seeks to put new restrictions on cruise ships. If passed, only 1,000 cruise ship passengers a day would be allowed to enter Portland. “Portland needs to divest from these industries that are simply not going to exist in 10 years,” said Maine DSA chair Wes Pelletier. “If you look around I wouldn’t place money on an ocean-based tourism industry continuing to bring people here and then they just get off and go on a bus to and they go to Kittery or somewhere else.” Maine DSA proposed the initiative as part of their efforts to make Portland more livable for locals, saying this would reduce pollution and congestion, but local business owners say the restrictions would hurt their bottom line. “It’s a tremendous amount of money that’s spent in a short period of time and it’s critical to businesses and small businesses in the Old Port to be able to pay their rent and all of their expenses that go with their business for the six months that there are no cruise ships,” said Greg Dugal of Hospitality Maine. Local business owners have come to rely on the revenue boost that cruise ship passengers provide, especially in the fall after the summer rush subsides. “We get an extra 30 to 40 days of summertime because of those cruise ships,” said Johnny DiMillo, one of the owners of DiMillo’s on the Water. “September used to be a bust now it’s fantastic.” DiMillo says that large cruise ships frequently double their lunchtime business in the fall. “Any of the ships under 1000, we don’t even really pay attention to because they’re so absorbed by the time they get down here,” DiMillo said. Other business owners are concerned about more than the loss of revenue. “The cruise ships bring in a lot of people from all over the place and that’s really key for the working waterfront down here and for all the businesses, especially like ours that want to tell the working waterfront story,” said Rugged Seas co-owner Taylor Trout. “That’s why we started this company, so to have the opportunity to tell that story to a wider audience is great.” Rugged Seas uses recycled fishing gear to make their products as a way to teach shoppers about the Maine fishing industry. important to have people be able to come in on these cruise ships and see what we have here in Maine,” Strout said. According to a recent study from Cruise Maine, about half the cruise ship passengers surveyed were visiting Maine for the first time and interested in coming back.

Portland City Council voted Monday to put five local referendums on the ballot in November, allowing residents to vote on a series of initiatives put forth by the Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

One of the referendums seeks to put new restrictions on cruise ships. If passed, only 1,000 cruise ship passengers a day would be allowed to enter Portland.

“Portland needs to divest from these industries that are simply not going to exist in 10 years,” said Maine DSA chair Wes Pelletier. “If you look around I wouldn’t place money on an ocean-based tourism industry continuing to bring people here and then they just get off and go on a bus to and they go to Kittery or somewhere else.”

Maine DSA proposed the initiative as part of their efforts to make Portland more livable for locals, saying this would reduce pollution and congestion, but local business owners say the restrictions would hurt their bottom line.

“It’s a tremendous amount of money that’s spent in a short period of time and it’s critical to businesses and small businesses in the Old Port to be able to pay their rent and all of their expenses that go with their business for the six months that there are no cruise ships,” said Greg Dugal of Hospitality Maine.

Local business owners have come to rely on the revenue boost that cruise ship passengers provide, especially in the fall after the summer rush subsides.

“We get an extra 30 to 40 days of summertime because of those cruise ships,” said Johnny DiMillo, one of the owners of DiMillo’s on the Water. “September used to be a bust now it’s fantastic.”

DiMillo says that large cruise ships frequently double their lunchtime business in the fall. Many of the cruise ships that dock in Maine carry over 1,000 people, with some accommodating more than 4,000. DiMillo says the smaller cruises don’t have the same economic impact.

“Any of the ships under 1000, we don’t even really pay attention to because they’re so absorbed by the time they get down here,” DiMillo said.

Other business owners are concerned about more than the loss of revenue.

“The cruise ships bring in a lot of people from all over the place and that’s really key for the working waterfront down here and for all the businesses, especially like ours that want to tell the working waterfront story,” said Rugged Seas co-owner Taylor Trout. “That’s why we started this company, so to have the opportunity to tell that story to a wider audience is great.”

Rugged Seas uses recycled fishing gear to make their products as a way to teach shoppers about the Maine fishing industry. They think cruises allow a wider array of people to experience the state and that these restrictions would cause a missed opportunity.

“I think it is important to have people be able to come in on these cruise ships and see what we have here in Maine,” Strout said.

According to a recent study from Cruise Maine, about half the cruise ship passengers surveyed were visiting Maine for the first time and interested in coming back.

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