Archive for January 2013

Charleston Not Alone in Cruise Tourism Challenges/Concerns

Cruise conference to address concerns in Charleston and abroad

VENICE, Italy — More than two dozen residents gathered in a bar on the east side of this city earlier this month to plot the course of their year-old effort to fight the ever larger cruise ships arriving here.

In a corner, a slide projector flashed images of many of them sailing small boats, waving “No Grandi Navi (No Big Ships)” flags.

The talk centered on strategies to push back at cruise ships when the mega-ships return in bulk in a few months.

Some specific concerns include the ships clogging the city’s canals, polluting the lagoon’s delicate marine environment and harming the foundations of the city’s historic architecture.

The debate over these ships, which can dwarf this medieval city’s skyline, heated up further after the Costa Concordia cruise liner ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio last year.

Clearly, concern over cruise ships isn’t limited to Charleston.

But Charleston soon will take center stage in the international debate over how best to balance cruise tourism and preservation concerns in the historic port cities where the ships often call.
‘Harboring Tourism’

On Feb. 6-8, the Francis Marion Hotel will be the scene of an international conference hosted by the World Monuments Fund, the Preservation Society of Charleston and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The event isn’t designed simply to bash the cruise ship industry, said Erica Avrami, research and education director with the World Monuments Fund.

In fact, Craig Milan, a Miami-based consultant to the cruise travel industry, will give the keynote address the first night.

“We recognize that tourism is a major generator of revenue in the world,” she said. “It’s an important partner to heritage preservation — the two really do go hand in hand.”

But she said the tourism must be sustainable, too.

“We just realized there hadn’t been enough focus on cruise tourism in historic places,” she said, explaining the purpose of the “Harboring Tourism” conference. “What I’m hearing is that there are places all around the world that are grappling with similar issues.”
Finding a balance

Charleston isn’t necessarily the city with the greatest cruise ship problem.

Evan Thompson, director of the Preservation Society of Charleston, said Venice is a better example of the potential harm from cruise ships, and Venetian architect Paolo Motta is set to deliver the event’s main lecture on Feb. 7.

Other cities have had their own issues, such as Mobile, Ala., which invested more than $20 million in the Alabama Cruise Terminal only to see its main cruise line pull out, posing a financial headache in covering the debt.

Alaska, Mexico and Costa Rica have their own challenges and are scheduled to send speakers to the event.

“Venice is indeed a sort of poster child for the heritage community because Venice is so iconic from a heritage perspective,” Avrami said, “but this is something that historic ports around the world have been grappling with.”

“We suddenly realized there really hasn’t been a lot of concentrated dialogue on best practices when it comes to historic ports,” she said.
Waking up

Anthony C. Wood, a New York-based preservation educator, historian and activist, has visited Charleston regularly for more than a decade.

He recalled waking up one morning in his room at the Francis Marion Hotel.

“I remember the next morning going to the window, and had this sudden shock,” he said. “I thought, ‘Who let them build that high rise since I last came to Charleston?’ Then I realized, that wasn’t a high rise. It was a cruise ship. The impact was something you couldn’t ignore. It’s a very serious issue.”

Charleston might not have the world’s greatest problems with cruise ships — the number calling here in a year is still well below what even opponents concede is a reasonable limit — but it is the first historic city to be added to the World Monuments Fund “Watch List” specifically because of the threat of cruise ships.
Ahead of the game

The cruise debate has raged here for a few years and has triggered multiple lawsuits, two of which are still pending. Dozens of homeowners in the historic district fly banners with a slash mark over a cruise ship’s smokestack.

A coalition of residents and environmental and preservation groups are pushing the city and port to enact a legally enforceable cap to ensure that no more than an average of two cruise ships call here in a week and that no ships arrive with more than 3,500 passengers.

They also want cruise ships to plug into the city’s electrical grid at port instead of burning their own fuel to limit air pollution, and they want the city to collect a fee to offset its cost of managing cruise visits, among other things.

Avrami said the conference will capture the discussions and publish them online, but it has another goal.

“In the long term, we’re hoping that having this symposium in Charleston will help to foster better dialogue and help bring more knowledge to the table so negotiated solutions can be found to the existing situation in Charleston, which I know is rather tense,” she said.

Wood, who plans to participate in the conference, said Charleston has built an incredible tourism brand — it has earned the No. 1 spot in the world in Conde Nast’s most recent visitors’ poll — but there’s no guarantee it will remain on top.

“You don’t want people saying things bout Charleston that they’re now saying about Key West because of the impact of cruise ships. Or Venice,” he said. “You want to get ahead of the game on this.”

But the prospects for a breakthrough here are uncertain. While the conference has sought a range of perspectives, neither State Ports Authority officials nor Charleston Mayor Joe Riley — the ships’ greatest defenders — are set to participate. Many local opponents are.

“Everyone hopes Charleston will get it right,” Wood said. “Hopefully, this conference will ultimately provide information that will let Charleston get it right.”



The list of those speaking at the cruise ship conference currently includes the following:

  • Carrie Agnew, Charleston Communities for Cruise Control
  • Gustavo Araoz, International Council of Monuments and Sites
  • Michelle Baldwin, Mayport Community Development Corp., Florida
  • Dana Beach, Coastal Conservation League, Charleston
  • Amos Bien, Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Costa Rica
  • William Cook, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, D.C.
  • Joseph Geldhof, Law Office of Joseph W. Geldhof, Alaska
  • Tony Hiss, author of “The Experience of Place,” New York
  • Blan Holman, Southern Environmental Law Center, Charleston
  • Martha Honey, Center for Responsible Tourism, Washington, D.C.
  • Mobile, Ala., Mayor Sam Jones
  • Kristian Jørgensen, Fjord Norway
  • Paulina Kaplan, municipality of Valparaiso, Chile
  • Marcie Keever, Friends of the Earth, Berkeley, Calif.
  • Ross Klein, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Canada
  • Craig Milan, Cruise Tourism Specialist and Travel Industry Consultant, Florida
  • Harry Miley Jr., Miley and Associates, Columbia
  • Paolo Motta, architect, Italy
  • Randy Pelzer, Charlestowne Neighborhood Association
  • Brian Scarfe, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Jamie Sweeting, advisor to Royal Caribbean
  • Evan Thompson, Preservation Society of Charleston
  • Jonathan Tourtellot, National Geographic
  • Dora Uribe, lawyer, Cozumel, Mexico
  • Anthony Wood, Ittleson Foundation and National Trust for Historic Preservation

If you go:

What: Harboring Tourism: A Symposium on Cruise Ships in Historic Port Communities.

When: Feb. 6-8.

Where: Francis Marion Hotel, King and Calhoun streets.

Hosts: Preservation Society of Charleston, World Monuments Fund and National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Cost: $300 for students and society or trust members; $350 for non-members for the full conference; $25/$30 for only Wednesday’s session; $75/$100 for only Friday’s.

more info: Visit or call 722-4630.

DHEC now considering an application for plug-in power at Truck Stops – smaller and far less polluting than cruise ships!

Shore power arrives at the Port of Halifax

No. H003/13
For release – January 23, 2013

HALIFAX — The Port of Halifax will be the first port in Atlantic Canada to implement shore power for cruise ships, beginning with the 2014 cruise season.

Shore power is a highly effective way to reduce marine diesel air emissions by enabling ships to shut down their engines and connect to the electrical grid in order to provide necessary power while docked. This initiative represents the second shore power installation for cruise ships in Canada.

Today’s announcement, which was made at Canada’s largest East Coast port by the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, Graham Steele, MLA Halifax Fairview on behalf of Percy Paris, Minister of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism for Nova Scotia, and Karen Oldfield, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Halifax Port Authority, represents a $10-million cooperative initiative among the Government of Canada, the Province of Nova Scotia and the Port of Halifax.

“Our government continues to make significant investments in Nova Scotia’s future.  We know that a thriving tourism industry is a key part of ensuring Nova Scotia’s economic prosperity and we are happy to grow this sector of Nova Scotia’s economy while helping the environment,” said Minister MacKay. “Be it the $25 billion federal initiative to build ships in Nova Scotia, offshore oil exploration or tourism, our government is committed to growing Nova Scotia’s economy and creating more jobs.”

Transport Canada will contribute up to $5 million to the project. The Province of Nova Scotia and the Port of Halifax will each contribute an additional $2.5 million.

“We know Nova Scotians want good jobs and a thriving tourism industry, and this investment represents part of our jobsHere plan to move toward a more prosperous future,” said MLA Steele. “The province is supporting the businesses and workers that depend on the cruise ship industry, creating quieter and cleaner conditions for visitors and Nova Scotian families, and positioning Nova Scotia as a more attractive destination.”

“The support of this project from both the federal and provincial governments will both help the environment and ensure Halifax remains a marquee port-of-call on the Canada-New England itinerary,” said Ms. Oldfield. “The cruise industry is an important part of our local economy, generating an estimated $50 million per year in economic impact.”

Once installed, shore power at the Port of Halifax will have immediate benefits by decreasing cruise ship idling by seven per cent, and will contribute to improved air quality and human health. This percentage is expected to increase over time as more ships equipped for shore power use the facilities. The seven per cent reduction represents an annual decrease of approximately 123,000 litres of fuel and 370,000 kg of greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions.

Halifax is one of the largest natural harbours in the world and has the deepest berths on the Eastern Seaboard of North America. In 2012, the Port of Halifax generated approximately $1.5 billion in economic impact and over 11,000 port-related jobs. Annual cruise activity accounts for about eight per cent of all tourism traffic in Nova Scotia.

Funding for the Shore Power Technology for Ports Program was provided under the Clean Transportation Initiatives in Budget 2011 as part of the renewal of the Government of Canada’s Clean Air Agenda. These initiatives focus on aligning Canadian regulations with those in the United States and with international standards, improving the efficiency of the transportation system, and advancing green technologies through programs such as Shore Power Technology for Ports. These initiatives will help Canada achieve its economy-wide target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.



City Council’s Double Standard Pointed out in Jack Bass’ Commentary in Sunday’s Post & Courier

On-street smoking ban not consistent

As the son of a chain-smoking father, I’ve smoked two cigarettes in my life. The first, when I was 12, tasted bad. The other came much later, when driving with my three young children (now all parents of teenagers) and their mother from a weekend visit with friends at their Lake Marion cottage. We headed home to Columbia on paved back roads on a late summer, Sunday afternoon.

As we approached a rural railroad crossing, a small moving train suddenly appeared in the twilight, seconds away from what appeared a collision course. I slammed on brakes, swerved onto the right of way, and came to a bumpy halt, perhaps 15 feet from the track. Only then did I realize it was a twilight optical illusion. The train, as it turned out, was actually backing away in the opposite direction.

But shaken and stimulated by a flow of adrenaline, I reached out for my then wife’s lighted cigarette. I deeply inhaled and experienced an enveloping release of tension. I promised myself that if ever again in such a situation, I would light up another cigarette. So far I haven’t.

The story is relevant because of Charleston City Council’s recent action to ban on-street smoking in a roughly 10-block area extending beyond the boundaries of the Roper/St. Francis and MUSC hospitals. This is the same City Council that refuses to require on-shore power for downtown cruise ships, whose toxic pollutants pose a genuine threat to public health in a far larger business and residential area. At least that’s what a past president of the state medical association has told us.

Consider for a moment that, say, a construction worker just processed admittance of his wife, his children’s mother, into the emergency room with severe chest pains. He feels the train is heading right at him. But if he goes out on the street to seek calming relaxation by smoking cigarette, he becomes a criminal and has to pay a fine.

Shame on the Charleston City Council for its surrender to power. Shame on Carnival Cruise Lines, which from their nine cruise lines sends Charleston the oldest and ugliest goat in the barn. Shame on the board of directors of the State Ports Authority for dereliction of duty.

Jack Bass

Queen Street



We’re Ready for Action!

Let Cruise Hearing Begin

Those who want reasonable limits to Charleston’s cruise industry should be allowed to present their case in court, according to a “referee” appointed to analyze their complaints and make recommendations to the S.C. Supreme Court.

That is good news. The contentious cruise issue has pitted the State Ports Authority and Mayor Joe Riley against citizens, preservation and conservation groups, and neighborhood associations. It needs a thorough airing. The divide between the two sides isn’t shrinking.

Carnival’s cruise ship Fantasy is home-based in Charleston. The mayor says that is a financial plus for Charleston and says the SPA’s pledge not to grow the business without first going to the public is good enough for him.

Citizens and groups involved in the lawsuit say they haven’t seen the financial advantage. They want enforceable, reasonable limits to the size and number of cruise ships that visit Charleston, and the frequency of their calls. The SPA hasn’t agreed to such limits, and the city hasn’t pushed for them.

Circuit Judge Clifton Newman indicated that the court should hear charges that noise, congestion, traffic and soot from cruise ships are a nuisance to the peninsula.

If the Supreme Court heeds his advice, the case will be heard in a lower court.

But, not surprisingly, Judge Newman also recommended the Supreme Court dismiss charges regarding Carnival’s environmental impact, saying the cruise line meets federal guidelines.

Further, he thinks the court should reject the notion that cruise ships should be governed by the city zoning ordinances.

The S.C. Supreme Court is not compelled to follow any of Judge Newman’s advice. But doing so could be an important step reaching an accord on the contentious issue. Clearly, the rifts aren’t going away,

Those seeking enforceable controls over the cruise industry, despite Judge Newman’s legal opinion, see the cruise ships as floating hotels for 3,500 that dwarf downtown hotels but don’t have to follow the rules hotels do. The advocates for cruise control are not a small group of whiners and “snobs,” as cruise supporters have charged.

And they are not just local. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has put Charleston on a watch list as an endangered place because of the cruise industry’s impact. Both Ansonborough and Charlestowne neighborhoods fear losing National Register status.

The Preservation Society is concerned lest its historic easements could be impaired.

The Charleston County Medical Society and the S.C. Medical Association have both resolved that emissions from cruise ships are a threat to people’s health.

Meanwhile, more than a half-dozen neighborhood associations and preservationists last week asked the Department of Health and Environmental Control to rescind a permit allowing the State Ports Authority to drive piles for a new cruise terminal.

It is a pity that the cruise question ended up in litigation. It could have been averted in an efficient and friendly way with some simple legal limits.

Certainly, the city has gone the extra mile in regulating other less intrusive tourism-related operations.

Optimally, Judge Newman’s recommendation will force the issue of regulating cruise ships to protect what preservationists have dubbed “the delicate balance” of tourism, business and residential living.

Originally Posted Here