EASTPORT, Maine — No industry may be hit harder by coronavirus impacts than the tourism and marine industry. Coastal and vacation towns across Maine are preparing for a summer season that will look and affect local economies like never before.
As cruise ships remain docked in ordnance with the CDC's No Sail order, one ship may be leaving Miami and sailing to Eastport.
The Oceania Riviera has been in Miami since March with 138 crew members still on board. All passengers since its last voyage have since departed. During the ship's last voyage passengers showed COVID-19 symptoms and later, at least one tested positive for the coronavirus.
Pam Koenig lives in Eastport and is a Registered Nurse Practitioner. She had quite the commute when she was still working, only having to walk up the street to the clinic. A walk up the street to work, and a brief walk down the hill to the waterfront.
Her front porch has a great view of downtown Eastport and the water. If the ship comes to port, her view, and the view of many other residents, will be blocked by the 785 foot long, and 16-deck tall, ship.
But the "view pollution" isn't the concern.
“My primary concern is a public health concern," Koening said. "It is not an essential function to accept cruise lines here, it is not.”
Koening called the lack of communication from the city's Port Authority "disrespectful" as residents of Eastport didn't find out about these plans until recently.
“They have their own debts and their own financial concerns, which we understand too but at what cost?"
Chris Gardner is the Executive Director of the Port Authority. He said there was no outbreak of the coronavirus onboard and none of the crew tested positive.
“It was only that one potential incident and there were no other reports on that vessel," he added.
Another issue if the Riveria comes to dock, is how will the 100 crew members get home?
“As we understand it is all in absence of any public transportation, the cruise ship line takes great concern in paying, ensuring these people get home safely and they do so with limiting their interactions with the generalized public," Gardner said.
The remaining 38 members of the crew will stay on board for however long it stays in Eastport. They won't be allowed to leave the boat per CDC guidelines.
“They won’t be leaving the boat, they won’t be walking around the community, none of that. They will be remanded to the vessel for the duration of their stay," Gardner added.
Michael Morse is the Chairman of the Planning Board and the Eastport Development and Growth Effort. He also lives in downtown Eastport, his apartment building is right on the water, and would be directly under the shadow of the ship.
“I think we can deal with it.," Morse said if the ship comes to the dock. “If the federal CDC and state CDC say this boat is clean, it’s probably pretty safe.”
The profits of the cruise ship being docked in Eastport will go to the repair and maintenance of the Breakwater where the Riviera would be docked.
"If it can be done safely, we think it can be a net positive for the people of Eastport and we will see one-hundred percent of the net proceeds invested right back into the Breakwater facility.”
The City Council will discuss the decision and if it approves, it will reach out to the Governor's office for final approval.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus
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