- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A local group announced its plans to introduce a cruise ship terminal to Solomons at Monday night’s meeting of the Solomons Civic Association.
The group, Global Maritime Solution, consists of realtor Chris Moore, Tiki Bar owner Terry Clark and Solomons attorney V. Charles Donnelly.
The proposal met opposition at the end of the association meeting, with remarks that the heavy traffic and influx of cruisers would harm the area.
But the treasurer of SCA, Gladys Bowers, said she remembers when cruise ships regularly came to Solomons.
“I was here during the second World War,” Bowers said. “You don’t know traffic. Before the war, cruise ships came in here. They were called steamboats, and there were two to three a week, and people would come down and walk all over the island.”
After the war, she said, some cruise ships stopped at a local marina.
“Cruise ships to Solomons are not new,” she said.
The proposed terminal site would be in the U.S. Navy Annex, which is not being used. At the site, there is a condemned pier. Moore said in a phone interview Tuesday that getting the cruise pier is a three-step process of working with elected officials, talking with the Navy and negotiating with cruise lines.
In an informational packet Moore distributed Monday, he said the nearest cruise port in Baltimore has reached its capacity. Bringing a cruise terminal to Solomons would mean building a parking lot for 1,500 cars during cruises. Moore hopes two ships per week will come through, bringing in 700 cars per cruise day.
The ships would not be megaliners, Moore said. Only ships that can fit under the Gov. Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge, holding about 1,000 passengers each, would come to the port.
“Solomons will go from a five-month-a-year island to a year-round economic area,” Moore said, alluding to the colder months of the year, when activity in Solomons is much lower.
Drivers will pay to use the parking lot near the pier, and about 6 percent of cruisers stay the night before or the night after cruising. Moore said this 6 percent would stay in local hotels and patronize local businesses, bringing in an estimated $90 million yearly to the area.
“Even with that, this is a significant boost to the tourism economy of Solomons,” Moore said.
The group of about 25 people at Monday’s meeting chuckled when Moore said the 6 percent staying overnight, about 42 cars each cruise, could park in Solomons during this time. Parking on the island is already an issue, especially on the weekends, some said.
“We’re not looking to put more traffic in an already congested area,” Moore said Tuesday. “We do not feel we’re going to add a whole lot of traffic to the island.”