A Big Win for Cruise Ships Opponents at Port Commission Meeting

The cruise ship idea is dead.

As the Port of Fernandina master planning process drew toward a close March 8, the big news was that all mention of cruise ship traffic has been removed from the plan, with the approval of all five members of the port’s oversight commission.

Other concerns raised by citizens at the meeting are still up in the air:

— Break bulk cargo consisting of big, two-ton bags of Portland cement powder. A shipload of it is currently stored in the port, in the open. Most of it is tarped, but lightly secured. The first wind storm with 40 mph gusts will create problems. In addition, there have been several bag ruptures – some recorded by neighbors. The sight of employees sweeping up concrete dust is a common one for nearby residents. Portland cement powder is a federally-listed toxic substance that can create respiratory illness after repeated exposure. Federal health advice is that indoor storage is ideal, but outdoor storage should be covered, and workers should be trained and equipped to handle it with great care.

— A more long-range plan of shipping urea-based fertilizer. This fertilizer is not listed as a toxic substance and is not volatile. But it stinks if not tightly sealed in its containers.

Some new, but vague, language has been added to the master plan about encouraging other, greener, more environmentally friendly break bulk cargo.

The commission delayed its original plan to vote on the plan at the March 8 meeting. Instead, the red-line edits made at that meeting are available on the port web site for public viewing until its April 12 meeting. The commission now intends to vote on the edited master plan at that meeting.

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Peggy Bulger
Peggy Bulger(@peggy-bulger1949gmail-com)
1 year ago

Mike, the first sentence needs an edit . . . It is March 8, not May 8! Just the little editor in me!

Robert Sherretta
Robert Sherretta (@guest_67584)
1 year ago

So, let me get this straight? These F.B. Commissioners would rather turn Fernandina Beach into a heavy industrial port, rather than promote local businesses with a few majestic tourist vessels per week, which might actually bring some interesting visitors to our town and inspire them to return at a future date to rent/purchase or just visit and shop. Gee – that sounds ominous. Better we just keep concrete and cardboard flowing. GAH!

1 year ago

You are confused, sir. The FB Commissioners have next to nothing to say about any of this. They can weigh in but the agreement that is the basis for our port is out of the control.

bob (@guest_67585)
1 year ago

Some clarification on the angst about cruise ships….. these are absolutely huge vessels that carry thousands of tourists. We learn from other such small towns as ours, that these sudden and large crowds that suddenly appear for a few hours and then rush back to the ship for dinner are mostly not beneficial to local businesses. The ships pretty much have everything the tourist needs onboard already, so they might buy a local souvenir, but rarely anything else. The biggest impact is moving a thousand people with trolleys or vans that might hold 20 people? That’s 50 trips around town, and 50 trips back to the ship. It’s just not practical. So, while it sounds like a great idea, closer examination tells a different story.

Joe Blanchard
Joe Blanchard(@jlblan2)
1 year ago
Reply to  bob

The cruise ships that were invisioned to be visiting our port were not the mega cruise ships. There must be a reason that ports all over the world are trying to get criuse ships use there ports. It is because it brings in money to the local economy and the ships don’t polute. The Jax port is an embark and debark terminal and yes the traffic is terrible. That is not what would be here. The passengers come by ship and leave by ship and be here for less than one day. They could be brought into town on front street leaving the historic district alone. But any reasonable solutions to the port problems doesn’t work for some local new residents.

PSG (@guest_67591)
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Blanchard

One of the ships promoting a Fernandina visit in 2024 was Oceania’s “Vista” that carries 1,500 passengers. (Google for a photo. Much larger than the ones that currently visit.) Most large cruise lines offer excursions in a port. I’d imagine one might be a trip to St Augustine. Those require buses to be lined up outside the ship. They would travel down 8th Street along with log trucks, etc. So while it’s not a mega ship those midsize ones can have quite an impact on a community as well.

Joe Blanchard
Joe Blanchard(@jlblan2)
1 year ago
Reply to  PSG

Front Street to Rayoner then Gum to 8th. Same route used by trucks going to Rayoner. Maybe use rail to move pasengers off the island to the Industrial Park in Yulee. Just try to think out of the box and not just find excuses. For example, at one time there was a plan to put a bridge from the island across the ICW to a causeway across Tiger Island then on to 17 and I-95. It was envisioned to assist in hurricane evacuations and reduce truck traffic on 200 but that met with such opposition that it was cancelled.

Anonymous (@guest_67592)
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Blanchard

The Regent Seven Seas cruise ship has already cancelled their May 6 stop, now going to Jacksonville instead. Too bad for them.

William Shaker
William Shaker (@guest_67587)
1 year ago

Anyone who has ever used the Jaxport cruise terminal, which is a traffic nightmare (recently spent over four hours just trying to pick up my daughter from a Carnival cruise), knows this is a very bad idea.

Nicholas Velvet
Nicholas Velvet (@guest_67590)
1 year ago

Free food on board, free booze on board…..hum let’s wander around Downtown maybe buy a magnet or two? Something to do to stretch our legs and get off the das Boat. “Support” (i.e. spend money) at local businesses? Not happening Folks. I’ve watched this dance before. It does not work. Period. Stop.

I am NOT a new resident. I am fed up with the continued “promotion” of Amelia Island. Disband the Tourist Bureau and limit “special events” to one weekend a month. Give the taxpaying citizens here a break for goodness sakes. Amelia Island has been found and is center stage on the tourseta map. Too much of what used to be a good thing (think pre 2010 crowd volumes) has just about removed any “charm” from this place. Sad but oh so true.

John Rasmussen
John Rasmussen (@guest_67598)
1 year ago

Mr Velvet. Bravo. Stop all advertising for the island. I want to start an opposition group to Amelia Island advertising and tourism promotion. Am still smelling the exhaust from the car show audience that treated our roads as a race track. John Rasmussen