Woods Hole will not be a cruise ship destination this summer as previously planned after the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution decided against hosting the passenger vessel.
WHOI had been in talks with American Cruise Lines, a small company based in Connecticut, to include WHOI on a new “Cape Codder” cruise itinerary. ACL listed the stop on its website and had included information on a “behind the scenes” look at ocean exploration in a newsletter to its customers.
Late last Friday, March 26, WHOI officials made the decision to pull the plug on the idea. On Monday, WHOI spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson provided a statement to the press:
“Late last week, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) made the decision to cancel the American Cruise Lines’ port calls planned for Woods Hole in 2021. Despite rigorous safety measures in place on all ACL cruises, it was determined that canceling was the best course of action given recent COVID-19 outbreaks in Barnstable County and continuing concern over exposure for members of the Woods Hole and WHOI communities.”
The cruise line’s 175-passenger American Constitution was scheduled to dock at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for day trips to WHOI beginning May 10, with four more stops before mid-June. The cruise line has reduced onboard capacity to 75 percent as part of its COVID safety protocols.
A spokeswomann for the cruise line, Alexa Paolella, said in an email that the company looks forward to working with WHOI next year.
“While it seems the Woods Hole stop and WHOI visit will not work out for this year, we very much look forward to including it on our 2022 Cape Codder Cruises,” she wrote. “The 2021 Cape Codder Cruises will still run, but we will most likely add a stop in Nantucket along the 2021 itinerary.”
Other stops on the eight-day itinerary include Plymouth, Mass Maritime Academy, New Bedford, Martha’s Vineyard, Provincetown and Gloucester. The cruise begins and ends in Boston Harbor.
The Woods Hole Community Association was critical of the idea of the village becoming a cruise line destination.
“Coastal communities all over the world struggle with the issue of cruise ships. Mostly, after a couple of seasons, I’ve heard that they aren’t great for businesses and are quite tough on the communities,” said Catherine O. Bumpus, co-president of the association. “They disgorge a large number of passengers for a short time, to wander around but they don’t spend money. If they do they are looking for low-budget small items, because they don’t have much space, and they don’t eat in restaurants or coffee shops because the food is provided on the ships.”