Mayor Joseph Riley and supporters of an unregulated cruise ship terminal at Union Pier advanced their key arguments during a hearing conducted last month by the federal Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.
The “we-know-better” argument went like this: “I was born in Charleston, my family has worked on the docks for years … and you got here late.” Or, “This has been a maritime city for 300 years…” This argument would be terrific if the maritime traffic and the ships were remotely the same as 300 years ago. Or even 30 years ago. But ships today don’t look like the Spirit of South Carolina. And, cruise ships have nothing in common with cargo shipping except that both ships float.
Cruise ships have thousands of passengers who must be accommodated and managed; cargo ships don’t.
The cruise ship debate continues with vigor, and we welcome the opportunity to connect some dots and stress the importance of the site of the new terminal. However, we scratch our heads when we read about “cruise ship opponents” in various local media. Those concerned about the cruise ships come at the issue from many different and valid perspectives. They are not “opponents”; rather, they are “critics” and are not monolithic. Many want cruise ships, but under varying circumstances. This is not an “either/or” issue for most citizens.