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August 18, 2017

Proposed hike in cruise ship fees sparks debate in Rockland

The City of Rockland is doing some research to decide whether to raise dock fees for cruise ships.

The PenBay Pilot reported the fee increase under consideration would be from $8 to $10 per passenger, for anchorage and tendering to the public landing. The income would go toward harbor facility development and harbor waterfront general accounts.

"At some point, the fees you charge have to be appropriate to the services you're providing," Councilor Ed Glaser said at a City Council meeting on Aug. 14.

Like other cruise ship ports, the meeting provoked debate on the pros and cons of catering to cruise ship tourism. Bar Harbor was held up as an example of a town cheapened by cruise ships. Others said cruise ships have been an economic driver in Rockland. Farnsworth Museum communications officer David Troup said the museum has seen 18,000 more admission tickets sold as a result of ship traffic, with increased store sales.

Maine overall was expecting 410 ship visits this year, compared to 361 in 2016 and 271 a decade ago, Mainebiz reported in May. Bar Harbor is Maine's busiest cruise port with 163 ship visits scheduled for 2017, up from 105 in 2016, followed by Portland with 90 and then Camden and Boothbay Harbor with 31 apiece.

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