Archive for June 2013

Savannah’s Savvy Cruise Course

Savannah abandoned its plans for a cruise ship terminal this week over the very concerns that neighbors of Charleston’s port, environmentalists and preservationists have with the industry here.

The difference is that Savannah City Council studied the idea for four years, analyzed its potential and decided it wasn’t a good investment gamble.



Indeed, Savannah spent $327,000 on two reports. The more citizens learned, the louder they protested.

Like Charleston, Savannah’s important tourist industry centers on its historic district. Preservationists studied how cruises and the crowds of passengers they carry have played havoc with Venice and other historic port cities.

Conservationists warned of the health hazards of toxic emissions from ships idling at dock. Council member Carol Bell wasn’t convinced that the business case for investing in a cruise terminal was sound.

In the end, Savannah City Council voted unanimously to withhold further funding for studying the project, essentially killing it altogether.

In contrast, Charleston City Council has been supportive of Carnival Cruise Lines using Charleston as a home port for the Fantasy. Even when petitioned by citizens not to eliminate cruises but to impose some reasonable, enforceable restrictions to the size and number of cruise ships coming here, council refused.

The Charleston and South Carolina medical societies have both sounding warnings about health hazards posed by cruise ship emissions, and have advocated for shoreside power to minimize them. The S.C. State Ports Authority has rejected the idea.

The Historic Charleston Foundation paid for a comprehensive analysis of the cruise industry that found the actual financial impact of cruise passengers in Charleston is far less than projections the SPA has released.

Cruisers tend to drive here and board. They take their meals on the ship. And when they return, they tend to get in their cars and go home, rather than stay a few extra days in Charleston.

Similarly, a retired economics professor in Savannah analyzed the marketing study produced for council. He found it unrealistically rosy and noted that it lacked references or empirical support.

And a grassroots group called Be Smart Savannah has been warning people about other cities facing financial woes after being abandoned by cruise lines. This week, Carnival announced it will no longer use Norfolk as a home port. And it left Mobile after a cruise terminal was built for it.

Of the 10 people who addressed Savannah’s council on the issue, only one was supportive of the terminal, and he represented a company with a financial interest in one of three possible terminal sites.

As in Charleston, there has been controversy in Savannah over the best place for a cruise terminal.

The sister cities’ cruise-related issues are very much alike.

The major difference is that Savannah City Council studied, listened, learned and decided it was the wrong move.


Read the entire article here

Savannah City Council Votes NO to Cruise Ships

This just in from our friends at Be Smart Savannah

Savannah City Council – just moments ago – voted NOT to proceed with further studies associated with bringing cruise ships to Savannah. That NO vote means that Savannah has said NO to cruise ships in their harbor.

Here is an article from this morning’s paper too:

Carnival sees fewer bookings, replaces its CEO

by, SCOTT MAYEROWITZ AP Business Writer

NEW YORK—Passengers remain hesitant to book cruises, despite deep discounts. But that didn’t stop Carnival Corp. from eking out a $41 million second-quarter profit thanks to lower fuel costs and the timing of some administrative expenses.

The Miami-based company also announced Tuesday that Micky Arison, who has been CEO since 1979 and is the son of Carnival co-founder Ted Arison, is being replaced by Arnold W. Donald, who has served on the company’s board for the past 12 years. Arison will continue to serve as chairman of the board.

The profit was nearly triple the $14 million the world’s largest cruise company earned during same period last year, a quarter which it suffered from steep losses on fuel prices bets known as derivatives.

Earnings totaled of 5 cents per share this quarter, up from 2 cents a share last year at this time. Revenue fell 1.7 percent to $3.48 billion.

Excluding one-time items, Carnival’s earnings were 9 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected earnings of 6 cents per share on revenue of $3.56 billion.

Shares of Carnival rose $1.67, or 5 percent, to close at $34.89 Tuesday.

Arison led the company through an aggressive expansion that included the acquisition of several brands, including Holland America, Costa Cruises, Cunard and Seabourn. In 2003, he oversaw a merger between Carnival Corp. and P&O Princess Cruises. Today, Carnival runs cruises under 10 brands.

However, Arison came under fire during Carnival’s bad publicity earlier in the year when a string of its cruise ships suffered through mechanical problems and fires. The most dramatic of them was the Carnival Triumph where passengers were stranded at sea for five days as toilets backed up and air conditioners failed. There were media reports of raw sewage seeping through walls and carpets.

Arison, who also owns the Miami Heat basketball team, took some heat of his own for attending a game while the crisis was ongoing.

Donald founded and led Merisant, a company whose products include sweetener brands Equal and Canderel. He also held multiple senior management roles at Monsanto over the course of 20-plus years, including president of the company’s consumer and nutrition sector and president of its agricultural sector.

The Triumph nightmare was followed up with problems on three other Carnival ships: The Elation, Dream and Legend—all which made big headlines.

None of that helped restore confidence in vacationers who are still wary after the January 2012 sinking of the Costa Concordia, also owned by Carnival.

In its earnings release Tuesday, Carnival said that advance bookings for the rest of 2013 are running behind last year’s levels, even at lower prices. Bookings on its namesake Carnival line are particularly weak.

Arison said in a statement that Carnival is working to market the “truly exceptional vacation values” that cruises offer through travel agents and other industry partners.

“We believe these initiatives, combined with slower supply growth, will lead to increased yields,” he said. “In addition, we remain focused on reducing our fuel dependence. By year end, we will achieve a 23 percent cumulative reduction in fuel consumption since 2005 and expect our research and development efforts in fuel saving technologies to continue to bear fruit.”

Those fuel-savings efforts seem to be paying off. In the quarter that ended May 31, the company saw a 14-percent drop in its fuel bill. The company spent $555 million on fuel, down from $645 million during the same quarter last year. Cruise companies, airlines and other large consumers of fuel typically make bets, called derivatives, on the price of oil to hedge again any sudden spikes. Last year, Carnival lost $145 million in the second quarter on such bets. This year, that loss was narrowed to $31 million.

During the second quarter, the company took delivery of Princess Cruises’ 3,560-passenger Royal Princess, the first of a new class of ships for Princess. Additionally, Carnival Sunshine entered service in May following a $155 million modernization.

Read more: Carnival sees fewer bookings, replaces its CEO – The Denver Post
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New posts to the Venice and Key West pages

The cruise industry does not just affect Charleston! We recently updated the Venice and Key West sub-pages with new information!

Please check them out: VENICE and KEY WEST

Almost 4 years on, SC cruise plan still in court

The Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. — It’s been almost four years since the South Carolina Ports Authority announced plans to build a new $35 million cruise terminal in downtown Charleston. Under the original schedule, that terminal would be open now. Instead, questions about the terminal and the city’s year-round cruise industry raised by environmental and neighborhood groups have ended up in court.

Lawsuits are in state and federal court, and an administrative law judge in January will hear concerns about a permit issued by state regulators for the terminal at the site of an existing warehouse. Final resolution won’t come until next year at the earliest.

According to court schedules:

— The state Supreme Court has given attorneys until July 8 to file briefs on whether cruises constitute a public nuisance and violate city zoning ordinances. This is in a state case the court agreed to hear without it first going through lower courts. The Preservation Society of Charleston, the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and neighborhood groups have sued Carnival Cruise Lines seeking to block cruise operations and have the court declare it illegal to build the terminal.

— A November trial date has tentatively been set in federal court for a lawsuit brought by the Conservation League and the Preservation Society against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In the case, moved from Washington, D.C. last year, the plaintiffs seek to invalidate a Corps permit saying more federal review of the terminal’s effect on the city’s historic district is needed.

— Chief South Carolina Administrative Law Judge Ralph Anderson has set a Jan. 27 date to hear a challenge of a Department of Health and Environmental Control permit allowing five pilings to be drilled for the project. Regulators have said putting in pilings is in line with what has been going on along the waterfront for centuries. Any decision by the court can then be appealed to state court.

Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the Ports Authority, all three cases raise important issues that need to be resolved not just for the cruise industry, but for the operation of the port in general.

“We’re not in a rush,” he said. “We will see these things through in a proper way.”

The dispute over the terminal and the city’s expanded cruise industry has been raging for several years. Three years ago, Carnival Cruise Lines permanently based its 2,056-passenger liner Fantasy in Charleston, giving the city a year-round cruise industry. Before that, cruise lines made port calls at Charleston, but no ships were based in the city.

Opponents say the added tourists, traffic congestion and smoke from the cruise liners are destroying the historic fabric of the city. The city and Ports Authority say the industry is being managed properly and cruises will never be more than a niche industry in Charleston.

Blan Holman, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, says it’s about balance between cruise operations and protecting the city’s historic character, upon which tourism and the cruise industry depend.

“We are hopeful that the city of Charleston will agree it has the power, and the responsibility, to oversee a cruise operation based in Charleston,” he said in a statement. “The city of Charleston has exerted its authority to safeguard the harbor and surrounding community for hundreds of years.”

Newsome is optimistic the issues will be resolved and the terminal project will go forward.

“We are going to build a new cruise terminal at the northern end of Union Pier, and we are going to keep a modest-size cruise industry as we have said all along,” he said.

Copyright The Associated Press


click here to see the link:

Assessing and Managing Cruise Ship Tourism in Historic Port Cities: Case Study Charleston, SC

Lauren Perez Hoogkamer recently completed her graduate thesis–Assessing and Managing Cruise Ship Tourism in Historic Port Cities: Case Study Charleston, SC–for her Master’s in Historic Preservation and the Master’s in Urban Planning at Columbia University.

Click to check it out – her research and findings are quite interesting:

A Lawsuit Against Carnival Cruise Lines Continues: Playing by the Rules

Just hours after the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed a suit against Carnival Cruise Lines in 2011, the S.C. State Ports Authority (SPA) held a press conference. At the time, Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said, “We will do everything we can to make sure this lawsuit fails,” according to the Charleston Regional Business Journal.

But the suit is still alive and kicking in the state’s court system. “It’s been about exactly two years since we filed the case,” says Blan Holman, the SELC attorney representing the Preservation Society of Charleston, the Coastal Conservation League, and the Ansonborough and Charlestowne neighborhood associations. “We think it’s pretty obviously not frivolous.”

Because the cruise line now docks its Fantasy ship in Charleston, the plaintiffs reasoned Carnival should be subject to city laws. And while the S.C. Supreme Court threw out three of the 10 claims the SELC had originally made in its suit regarding noise, sign, and environmental ordinances, the fight is far from over. As the CRBJ reports, the Supreme Court has asked attorneys on both sides of the case to file new briefs on two remaining issues.

When the suit was originally filed against Carnival in June 2011, the City of Charleston and the SPA immediately intervened. “They all quickly asked the state Supreme Court not to hear an appeal, but to take the case away from the local judge and hear it in the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction,” Holman explains. The court consented in early 2012 and assigned a special referee, Judge Clifford Newman, to the case.

Newman considered the 10 claims made in the original complaint that fall into three categories: ordinance, nuisance, and environmental. They covered everything from city laws to noise complaints to accusations that Carnival is discharging in state waters without state permits.

But at a hearing last summer, Judge Newman recommended to the S.C. Supreme Court that all claims other than the nuisance ones be dismissed. His argument was based on his opinion that Charleston’s zoning laws can only apply to structures. Because the Carnival Fantasy isn’t permanently located on land or, Newman concluded, substantially attached to land, it isn’t technically a structure. “But he said issues of whether or not someone’s use of their property is reasonable [is] not really a legal question, it’s more of a fact question, so it can’t be dismissed,” Holman adds.

Last week, the S.C. Supreme Court agreed with Newman on dismissing the noise, sign, and environmental permitting complaints. “We did appeal his view on the environmental permitting claim, and so we’re disappointed to see that claim dismissed,” Holman says. “But we think the seven remaining claims, which are ordinance claims and the nuisance claims, they are seven strong claims and this case is very much alive.”

More importantly, the Supreme Court brought up a new issue in the case: Does the City of Charleston have the authority to regulate a cruise operation based in Charleston?

“That’s really a much different question,” Holman says. “It’s a question that goes to the nature of the city’s authority, period. It goes to issues of how far the city’s authority can go when there are federal regulations in place and some limits on local authority.”

Holman and the plaintiffs believe that the city does have the jurisdiction to regulate what the ships do within city limits, and he says he hopes the City of Charleston will preserve its power over these kinds of activities.

“The cruise lines are notorious for not paying any taxes and not being very heavily regulated,” he says. “I think that the goal of the Carnival suit is to see that they’re treated like other businesses, because in Charleston we regulate and have standards for all manner, be it pedicabs or horse-drawn carriages or bus tours or what you can do to your house.”

And, he adds, those standards are key to the economic success of the peninsula and the metropolitan area. Basically, the plaintiffs just want Carnival to play by the rules. If the lawsuit succeeds, Holman hopes the cruise ship industry can continue in Charleston, but in a way that doesn’t affect the livability and health of the community or detract from other parts of the tourist industry.

The Post and Courier reports that the SELC and Carnival Cruise Lines have 30 days to submit new briefs addressing the new allegations.

“The recent order issued by the Supreme Court in the cruise ship case is encouraging because it brings into clear focus the pivotal issues of the case,” Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. told the City Paper in a statement. “And in light of the briefing schedule set by the court, I am optimistic that a decision will be rendered very soon.”

In the end, if the court decides the city does have the power to regulate cruise ships, Holman is hopeful they’ll take advantage.

“We are optimistic that when the city attorneys actually have the opportunity to drill down on the issue that they will, as has been their history, that the city attorney’s office would actively and aggressively defend the City of Charleston’s authority to control activities within its limits,” he says.

Carnival Cruise Lines’ public relations department said it was unable to comment on the case, and a call the City Paper made to the SPA was not returned.

Taken from Charleston City Paper, article by Susan Cohen

View article here:

Savannah studying cruises; won’t share study yet with public

SAVANNAH — A consultant’s report on three potential sites for a cruise ship terminal along the Savannah River has been given to city officials in Savannah, but they aren’t sharing it with residents. The city is refusing to make the taxpayer-funded analysis public, The Savannah Morning News reported. City officials say a provision in the Georgia’s open records law allows them to keep the report secret for now. The exemption pertains to potential land acquisitions.

A Savannah City Council workshop has been scheduled for June 25, and the study will be made public at that time, city spokesman Bret Bell.

The city council awarded Miami-based BEA Architects a contract to perform the study in September. It’s being divided into two phases, and the portion of the study recently given to city officials cost $197,500 to evaluate the sites.

The findings are necessary to obtain U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approval and permits for construction. Results may eliminate certain sites or verify that all three sites, which have not been made public, could be used, the Savannah newspaper reported.

City Councilman Tom Bordeaux had cast the only vote against the study.

Bordeaux said he didn’t think spending millions of dollars on the terminal would be a good investment for the city, considering the amount of time cruise passengers would spend in Savannah.

Bordeaux said he also worried that the terminal would be abandoned if the industry experienced tough financial times, especially since Charleston and Jacksonville, Fla., already have cruise docks.

“Savannah would be the last in and first out,” Bordeaux told the newspaper.

A 2011 report from BEA Architects estimated that Savannah could attract 100,000 cruise visitors a year by investing $18 million, and 300,000 more if it spends another $50 million, though the latter projections have been disputed, the newspaper said.

In downtown Charleston, Carnival Cruise Lines has offered has offered regularly scheduled cruises almost year-round since 2010, when the company permanently based its 2,056-passenger ship Fantasy at a berth on Union Pier Terminal, near the City Market.

The arrival of that business has triggered a backlash among some downtown Charleston residents and preservation groups over the increased traffic congestion, noise and air pollution. Three cruise-related lawsuits are working their way through the court system.


  1. Two lawsuits are challenging the S.C. State Ports Authority plans to open a $35 million cruise terminal at the north end of Union Pier in downtown Charleston. Neighborhood associations and other groups are fighting the proposed site, saying it will bring more tourists, traffic and fumes from ships to the historic district.
  2. The Army Corps of Engineers is being sued over a permit it issued for the terminal. The plaintiffs are seeking to revoke the permit. They also want more public review.
  3. Groups are asking a state court to review a Department of Health and Environmental Control permit allowing the SPA to drive pilings as part of the project.
  4. A third lawsuit targets Carnival Cruise Lines operations in Charleston. The S.C. Supreme Court dismissed claims this month that Carnival violates local noise and sign ordinances. The high court will consider allegations that the cruises are a public nuisance and violate city zoning rules.


View article here:

Plaintiff’s Attorneys vs Carnival/SPA/Charleston respond to SC Supreme Court’s request for more info

Press Release June 11, 2013

More Info:Balancing Cruise Ship Growth & Charleston Charm

Statement from the Southern Environmental Law Center Regarding SC Supreme Court Ruling on Charleston Cruise Ships

Blan Holman, Managing Attorney, Charleston Office, 843-720-5270

Charleston, SC –  The South Carolina Supreme Court has issued an order allowing a case involving Carnival Cruise Lines’ operations in historic Charleston to proceed forward for further briefing. While the Court dismissed three of the claims against Carnival – regarding noise and sign ordinances, and an environmental permitting claim – it did not adopt a Special Referee’s earlier recommendation to dismiss the remaining seven ordinance and nuisance claims.  Blan Holman, managing attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Charleston office, issued the following statement:

“We are pleased that our seven strongest claims remain and look forward to showing that Carnival cannot ignore the rules every other business plays by in making Charleston a great city.

We look forward to continuing to act on behalf of citizens to ensure that Carnival follows local laws that protect the city’s healthy environment, treasured historic assets, and booming tourism industry – an industry that depends on balancing Charleston’s unique historic charm with sensible cruise ship operations.” 

As cruise ship traffic has exploded in the heart of Charleston’s historic district in recent years – growing from 33 dockings in 2009 to 89 in 2011, due mostly to the Carnival Fantasy –citizens have demanded that cruise ship operations adhere to existing standards to manage traffic, pollution, and large crowds.  Charleston has thrived through the years by applying these standards to homeowners and all manner of businesses, from hoteliers to rickshaws.

After Charleston City officials claimed to have no power over cruise operations, SELC filed suit in state courts on behalf of neighborhoods and conservation groups to establish that Carnival is indeed subject to local laws that protect the city’s healthy environment and job-creating historic assets. The Supreme Court has asked for additional briefing on whether Carnival is subject to Charleston’s local authority.  Holman said that is a core issue in the case, adding:

“We are hopeful that the city of Charleston will agree that it has the power – and responsibility – to oversee a cruise operations based in Charleston, as the Carnival Fantasy is. The City of Charleston has exerted its authority to safeguard the harbor and the surrounding community for hundreds of years. It would be a shame if officials now abandon Charleston’s waterfront all for the Carnival Fantasy.”

The plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case are the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, the Coastal Conservation League, and the Preservation Society of Charleston.

In other proceedings, briefing continues in federal court concerning a permit granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a new cruise terminal in Charleston.  By characterizing the $35 million new terminal as a “maintenance” project, the Corps authorized the S.C. State Ports Authority’s terminal with no public notice or consideration of ways to reduce impacts on federally-protected historic sites and the environment.  SELC represents concerned citizen groups seeking open permit review so that options for harmonizing cruise operations with existing businesses and neighborhoods can be fully evaluated.

S.C. Supreme Court Requests More Information in Cruise Case

By Matt Tomsic
Published June 12, 2013

The state Supreme Court has asked attorneys to file briefs on two outstanding issues after dismissing three claims in a lawsuit filed against Carnival Cruise Lines over its Lowcountry operations.
The Southern Environmental Law Center filed the lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines in June 2011 on behalf of the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, the Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston. The city of Charleston and S.C. State Ports Authority also joined the lawsuit as defendants.
The lawsuit argues Carnival is breaking local zoning, nuisance and environmental permitting laws. The legal complaint has several counts and seeks to require Carnival to go through the processes required of other Charleston tourism businesses.

The state’s highest court took jurisdiction over the case in January 2012 and appointed Judge Clifford Newman as special referee in the case. The court asked Newman to hear arguments for preliminary motions by the parties and issue a recommendation on those motions, which he did in January, recommending the S.C. Supreme Court should dismiss a handful of city ordinance and environmental claims but keep the nuisance claims.

On June 5, the court acted on Newman’s recommendation, dismissing three claims regarding the city of Charleston’s noise ordinance; the city’s sign ordinance; and the S.C. Pollution Control Act. The court didn’t dismiss the lawsuit’s remaining claims.

The court also asked the parties to file briefs on issues of standing and the preemption of federal or state law on municipal zoning ordinances before it ruled on the remaining claims.

The briefs are due in early July.

“We are grateful to the Supreme Court for taking this important case in its original jurisdiction,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the ports authority, in a news release. “And we are optimistic that this action will lead to an expeditious resolution to the remainder of the lawsuit.”

The Southern Environmental Law Center was also happy with the decision.

“We are pleased that our seven strongest claims remain and look forward to showing that Carnival cannot ignore the rules every other business plays by in making Charleston a great city,” said Blan Holman, an attorney with the law center, in a news release. “We look forward to continuing to act on behalf of citizens to ensure that Carnival follows local laws that protect the city’s healthy environment, treasured historic assets and booming tourism industry — an industry that depends on balancing Charleston’s unique historic charm with sensible cruise ship operations.”