“Ahoy there, Carnival,” Post and Courier, March 14, 2012, editorial.
The non-profit Charleston Communities for Cruise Control has asked Carnival Cruise Lines questions that warrant some answers.
In Carnival Cruise Lines’ 2010 sustainability report, the company reports on its efforts to be a “good corporate citizen” and “preserve the fragile ecosystems upon which we are so dependent.” Cruise Control members want to know how Charleston fits into their plans.
For example, the report says “Carnival uses low-sulfur fuels voluntarily while cruising near environmentally sensitive as well as historical areas.” What about Charleston?
It says Carnival has voluntarily adopted environmental practices in Alaska, California and Hawaii in order to “reduce smog and health pollutants” and “preserve coastal water quality.” Shouldn’t the same be adopted here?
It says Carnival has committed to onshore power for ships calling at Long Beach, a measure that would alleviate air emissions here as well.
And the Carnival report says the cruise line aims to “contribute to the economic growth of the ports in which we operate through the taxes we pay, the jobs we create and the suppliers we support.”
Cruise Control is dedicated to achieving the appropriate balance between cruise ship operations in Charleston and the historic nature and quality of life in the city. As such, it wrote to Carnival requesting the cruise line adopt the same admirable practices in Charleston as it does in other areas. And a few more.
Don’t discharge gray water or incinerate garbage within 12 miles of shore. Since cruise lines do not pay taxes here as they do elsewhere, Carnival should “voluntarily pay an impact fee of $5 per passenger into a fund for community improvement.”
Also, support the local and state economy by purchasing provisions locally. Avoid making loud announcements and playing music outside while in port as the noise reverberates between buildings and is disturbing to the community.
Cruise Control would like Carnival to limit its presence here to two cruise ships a week — none with more than 3,000 passengers and crew.
You’d think Carnival would be interested in burnishing its image given its recent problems — one cruise ship running aground in Italy and another being towed into port after catching fire in the Indian Ocean.
But so far, Carnival has not responded to the Jan. 5 letter.
In an open system of government, corporations typically can be called to account by citizens — and their elected representatives. But the city and the State Ports Authority appear more interested in running interference for the cruise ship company on the regulatory front.
Indeed, no one at the SPA or on Charleston City Council — not the port director or the mayor — has yet responded to Charleston Communities for Cruise Control’s recent request for help convincing Carnival to use its best practices here.
It was partly out of a sense of frustration that several neighborhood, environmental and preservation groups in Charleston filed suit against Carnival, seeking answers in the courts. Cruise Control, incidentally, is not part of that lawsuit.
The questions raised by local critics shouldn’t be difficult to answer, and all who live or work in the area — including elected and appointed officials — should find an interchange of ideas worthwhile. Carnival has done the same for other ports.
Charleston deserves no less.