BUCKSPORT — The Bucksport Town Council is slated to consider at its Aug. 13 meeting whether to allow American Cruise Lines to dock in Bucksport in September in light of the pandemic.
The board held an emergency meeting July 15 with representatives of the cruise line and Bucksport public safety officials.
The cruise line is not currently operating.
“As the number of cases have increased throughout the country, as we monitored the situation, processed the data, spoke with our guests, we felt it was the best decision to give it some more time before we continue to operate the ship,” said Paul Taiclet, vice president of American Cruise Lines.
Taiclet met with the council via the videoconferencing application Zoom.
The company has drafted a 26-page safety plan, which it provided to Bucksport officials. The plan is available on the town website.
The company has three visits to Bucksport tentatively planned for September.
“It’s very important to us that you are comfortable with what we are doing,” said Taiclet.
Bucksport Town Manager Susan Lessard said the CDC [Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention] has to approve the cruise line’s safety plan, or it won’t be allowed to operate.
“We have to make sure if we bring a risk to the community, it needs to be as low a risk as possible,” Lessard said. “At the end of the day, if the CDC doesn’t approve this, they can’t operate anyway.”
Taiclet said the ship would operate with 50-60 guests, and shore excursions would take place in groups of 25.
Councilor Mark Eastman asked what the response has been from other communities besides Bar Harbor, which is not allowing cruise ship visits this year.
Taiclet said the company is still talking with officials in Portland, Rockland, Bath and Boothbay, among others.
Council Chairman Peter Stewart said he saw at least 25 out-of-state cars in Bucksport over the previous weekend. The town doesn’t know what precautions those visitors have taken. “We have no idea if they followed any rules,” Stewart said. The ship, in contrast, is providing its safety plan, he noted.
Lessard told the council that the average age of cruise ship passengers is 73. Those people are already in the high-risk category and will be more likely to follow safety precautions, she said.
Editor’s note: This article was corrected Aug. 2 to reflect the correct meeting date: Aug. 13.