Monterey tells cruise lines they are not welcome

The city council in Monterey, Calif., voted last week to terminate passenger landing services for incoming cruise ships, sending a message that cruise ships are no longer welcome there.  

The council voted 3-2 to terminate city services to process disembarking passengers. Ships will continue to be allowed to drop anchor in the bay and take guests to the shore via tender. However, cruise lines will have to hire staff at the port to process passengers at the city’s public dock. 

City officials said they hope the decision will lead cruise lines to stop calling at Monterey Bay, which is home to one of the largest national marine sanctuaries in the U.S. 

“It is my hope that this step will signal to the cruise ship industry that they are no longer welcomed by our city,” wrote Hans Uslar, city manager for Monterey, in a report to the council. The concern, said Uslar, is avoiding an “accidental discharge into our pristine Monterey Bay.”

CLIA president and CEO Kelly Craighead argued in a letter to the council that cruise operations are “tightly regulated with rigorous enforcement by authorities, including the U.S. Coast Guard.

“Our cruise line members set a high bar for themselves, and they attest to follow policies for practices related shipboard safety, security, environmental stewardship, and more, which often exceed requirements of international law,” she said. 

Craighead added that CLIA research showed guests spent an average of $125 per shore visit in the U.S.   

The city has no power to ban cruise ships from docking in the bay. Monterey typically has about seven to 12 visits a year. No ships have called at the port since the pandemic began, according to Uslar.

Three Monterey calls are scheduled in March, according to, beginning with the Discovery Princess on March 14. Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Oceania, Holland America Line, Silversea and Norwegian Cruise Line have scheduled calls in Monterey this year. 

Monterey Bay is a seasonal stop largely on sailings to Alaska and Mexico.  

This isn’t the first time Monterey has expressed concern about cruise ships. In 2002, the city welcomed back cruise ships after a five-year hiatus, requiring that ships agree to not discharge anything — including waste that could legally be discharged — into their waters.

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