We can learn from other cities…

There have been a few editorials in the Post and Courier lately – it seems that our city leaders could stand to learn from other cities, figure out the problems and come up with a solution…

July 26, 2013 letter to the editor:

In response to the July 14 letter noting that the air was cleaner and it was quieter around the cruise ships dock in Vancouver: In 2009, Port Metro Vancouver became the first port in Canada to install shore power for cruise ships, allowing ships to shut down their diesel engines and connect to a land-based electrical grid while docked.

The costs were shared by the Canadian government, British Columbia Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, BC Hydro and the port. They won international awards for this effort. So maybe Charleston leaders could convene a similar group and lead the way for the Southeast coast.

T. L. Herbert
Brantley Drive, Charleston

July 14, 2013 letter to the editor:

I just had the opportunity to visit Vancouver, British Columbia, for several days. Vancouver has embraced the cruise ship industry. They have a spectacular cruise ship terminal that is right downtown complete with shops, restaurants, and also their rail terminal.

I was there for three days and I saw seven different ships in port from three different cruise lines. I did not notice any pollution coming from the ships, there was no loud noise or music coming from any of the ships at any time, and the passengers even exited the ship on a different level from where the shops were. The only noise that we could hear was the sounding of the horn as the ships left. The seaplanes that were constantly landing and taking off made much more noise than any of the cruise ships.

Maybe we should check with Vancouver to see how they have been so successful in working with the cruise industry.

Edward Leary
High Hammock Road, Johns Island

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: http://academiccommons.columbia.edu/catalog/ac%3A162278

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: http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20130617/PC16/130619398/1009/savannah-studying-cruises-won-x2019-t-share-study-yet-with-public&source=RSS

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.

Jane Fishman: A trip to a cruise ship

When one of my favorite cousins — who decided to become a doctor in her early 40s — wrote and said she and her poet/bon vivant husband, both from Los Angeles, would be in Charleston, S.C., for a day and would I consider visiting, I said, “Mais oui! Of course!”

They would be arriving from Key West, Fla., and before that, points in Colombia, the Panama Canal, Costa Rica and Mexico.

My cousins are of the cruise ship culture.

“You can’t miss it,” said Sheila on my cell as I drove into Charleston on a misty, humid Tuesday. “It’s just down from the Old Market.”

How hard could that be?

“Can’t miss it,” the taxicab driver said at the service station, grinning slightly as if he had views to share about the “culture” but was keeping them to himself. “It’s 12 stories tall.”

“Right by the Custom House,” a police officer on Broad Street said.

“I know the rest,” I said. “I can’t miss it.”

I missed it. Every time.

Turns out I had another image in mind. I was looking for a boat. I was expecting a vessel, a ship, maybe even a very, very big ship.

Not a shopping center, a condominium complex, a commercial center, a strip mall, a block of concrete. (And this — the Crystal Symphony — is a midsize boat with only 900 passengers, not 1,500 or 2,000. Here, there was only one boat docked, not three or four.)

“I waved at you from our room when you were walking down the entryway with Michael,” my cousin said. “Didn’t you see me?”

Didn’t I see her? She was a speck, a dot, a smidgen on this white behemoth of a structure sitting absolutely still as if it were a permanent fixture on the horizon. I saw the water, sort of. I saw the beast. I did not see anyone waving at me.

I showed my passport (though previously vetted), emptied my pockets, left my driver’s license with the uniformed guard and entered another world. I’ve never been on a cruise ship before. I’ve never been anywhere with a karaoke bar, a well-stocked library, a bridge room, a computer room, a whirlpool, a sauna, a golf driving net, a cigar bar, a sommelier, a movie theater or a Las Vegas-style showroom under one roof. It’s a small city.

The library looked impressive.

“How many books have you read?” I asked.

Five for Sheila, three for Michael.

On our way to a restaurant that’s open all day, we passed many fine, upscale stores. By agreement with the port city, none are open when the ship is docked. Once it sets sail (well, that’s the terminology, but I doubt there are any actual sails), the shops open for business.

“Are you hungry? Want some coffee?” Michael said.

We headed to the buffet table of lox, croissants, fruit, bagels — and that was just the cold stuff. In minutes, a beautiful latte was delivered to the table.

When we finished, we got up for a spin around the ship. There was no bill. There’s never a bill.

The menus on the ship’s restaurants do not include prices. No one needs to carry money on a cruise ship. There’s no money exchange.

It’s all “handled” ahead of time. More food? More wine or beer (not the really good stuff; that costs extra)? Bring it on.

“A friend of mine likes to say after he got back from a cruise he went out to a restaurant and when he was finished he got up without paying,” Michael said. “The same friend said he had to remind his wife to put her napkin on her lap. Usually it’s the waiter who tends to such things.”

Or a butler, if you want to pay for it.

Later that day we left the ship — the efficiency of waiters cleaning the carpet, setting up for lunch, the conviviality of other guests — and headed to Charleston for lunch (though who could be hungry?) It was low tide, the sky a teal blue, the pluff mud a shiny, squishy gray.

I stopped to consider the sweet, pungent yet rotten-egg odor of the marsh and I wanted to take my shoes off and feel the mud in my toes.

I took a deep breath. My shoulders dropped three inches.

Then I thought about Savannah as a port for cruise ships. I thought about more horse-drawn carriages crossing Liberty Street, more tour buses ambling around the tender infrastructure of River Street, more multiple bicycle thingeys clogging up Bull Street, and my shoulders went up three inches.

When we parted, we hugged and kvelled (Yiddish for being happy and proud) and said how great it was to be with family, especially since we’re so spread apart.

“But if we do meet again on a cruise ship,” I told them, “Please, dear God, don’t let it be in Savannah.”

Jane Fishman’s columns appear weekly in Accent. Contact her at gofish5@earthlink.net or call 912-484-3045.

View Entire Article Here: http://savannahnow.com/accent/2013-05-25/jane-fishman-trip-cruise-ship#.UcNQIuvNcnX

California Law To Require Ships To Cut Pollution

California is about to become the first state to require shore power at its ports. A new law mandates at least half of a shipping line’s fleet to shut down their diesel engines and plug into shore-side electric power when they unload their cargo. It’s part of a larger effort to cut pollution at the state’s busiest ports, but costs have been a sticking point.

Visit http://www.npr.org/2013/05/20/185437447/calif-law-to-require-ships-to-cut-pollution to listen to the story


Two ports, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, handle almost half of all of the consumer goods being shipped into the United States. Together, these two ports are also the single largest polluter in Southern California, a region famous for its smog.

NPR’s Kirk Siegler reports on a new California law that will soon require some of the largest diesel-guzzling ships to kill their engines and plug in to shore power at the docks.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Shipping is a dirty business and it’s hard to regulate. Ships register in distant countries, they burn dirty bunker fuel thousands of miles off the coasts. And when they get into port, these massive vessels that are four football fields long, can’t just shut down when they unload their cargo for three days. See, aboard its more floating city than ship, with plumbing systems, lights, computers, climate-controlled containers.

RENE MOILANEN: And typically they’re running their auxiliary engines that entire time. It’s essentially like leaving a car idling in front of your driveway.

SIEGLER: On a drizzly morning, Port of Long Beach environmental planner Renee Moilanen stands on the slippery deck of a small patrol boat; a humbling place beneath the 20-story high red cranes unloading cargo. She says requiring the vessel above us to shut off its diesel and plug into electricity is the emissions equivalent of taking 33,000 cars off the road for each day they do it.

MOILANEN: So if we can reduce those emissions occurring at berth, we can make significant progress in reducing health risks for the local community.

SIEGLER: Ship emissions are just one component though of a huge spectrum of environmental problems at the ports. And until recently, they’ve taken a backseat to bitter fights over pollution from all the trucks and trains that move the cargo out of here. But shore power is one big piece of a broader air quality plan; some of it, the ports have done voluntarily, some by court order, but all in response to the alarmingly high rates of asthma and cancer detected among people in the mostly poor, minority neighborhoods down wind of the two ports.

MAYOR BOB FOSTER: Years ago, when we were putting this plan in place, you know, I was quoted many times as saying, you know, we’re not going to have, you know, kids get asthma or cancer in our city, so that someone in Kansas can get a cheaper television set.

SIEGLER: Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. His city owns some of the port, a huge economic engine for this region. But he straddles a fine line between port booster and public health advocate.

FOSTER: The ships are just sort of the last remaining big ticket item on pollution. I think this will – well, I know, this will be a much healthier environment. And we’ll still have a robust economy of really good jobs. I think this is the template for the rest of the world.

SIEGLER: But for now, California is the only government in the world to mandate shore power. And there are concerns the less-regulated East Coast ports could poach business once the Panama Canal is widened to accommodate larger vessels. Some shipping lines have grumbled about having to spend on average $1.5 million to retrofit their vessels, just to do business in one state.

It’s just the two cables that we’re looking at?

MOILANEN: Yeah. Yeah.


SIEGLER: Don’t over-think it.


SIEGLER: Back on the patrol boat, the port’s Renee Moilanen points out, what look like two giant extension cords. They plunge over the side of a vessel owned by the Matson Line. It was one of the first here to plug into shore power ahead of the mandate. The cables disappear under the wharf, which the port recently electrified.

MOILANEN: It looks far less impressive than it actually is. The technology and the engineering behind it is very complicated.

SIEGLER: And expensive, and just one step in the massive effort to clean up one of the largest sources of pollution in a region with some of the worst air in the country.

Kirk Siegler, NPR News.

The fantasy of “the Fantasy”


Charleston was recently named Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Top
Destination in the World!(1)  After 2015, such an honor is unlikely.

Why do tourists love Charleston?  Ohio residents Gary and
Marilyn Steyskal, who’ve visited twice a year since the ’80’s, say, “It’s the
history, the restaurants, the historical churches, and we like to explore old
cemeteries.  We always find something we haven’t seen before.”(2)  Those reasons
match many surveys that proclaim Charleston’s charm, history, historic homes and
gardens, architecture, ambiance, culture, restaurants, and friendly people as
the draw for almost 5 million tourists annually.  Tourists don’t take those
horse-drawn carriages to the Citadel Mall–they head downtown into the historic
neighborhoods to wander through the quaint streets and charming neighborhoods,
relax in one of our restaurants and browse the downtown shops.  People want to
see historic Charleston; that’s why they come.

Sadly, a cherished history doesn’t portend a glorious
future.  Ask the people who once lived in Venice, Italy, Dubrovnik, Croatia or
Key West, Florida.  These are cities changed, damaged or in decline.  People
left as carelessness replaced civility and T-shirt vendors displaced charming
shops.  Much of the damage was caused by the rapid increase of cruise ship
visits so near the historic centers of these cities.  That’s why the National
Trust for Historic Preservation has put Charleston on special “Watch Status”
when it released its list of “Americas 11 Most Endangered Places in 2011.”(3)

The biggest myth of cruise ship tourism is that what you see
is what you’ll get.  As upsetting as it may be for those in Ansonborough and on
the East Side, proponents say it won’t get worse.  That’s “the fantasy.”  It’s
about to get a lot worse.

First, cruise ships carried 2 million passengers in the
l980’s; this year, they’ll carry 18 million!  Modern cruise tourism, increasing
by 7.2% annually, is the fastest growing segment of the leisure travel

“As a result of this growth…  “Second, cruise ships are getting bigger,
much bigger.”

Second, Cruise ships are getting bigger, much bigger.  The
“Fantasy,” the 22-year-old ship that’s home-ported in Charleston, is the oldest
ship and one of the smallest in Carnival’s fleet.  Rumor has it, it’s for
sale.(5)  When she’s gone, she won’t be replaced by another 70,000-ton ship with
2,060 passengers and a crew of 920.  For a glimpse at what’s sailing over the
horizon, check out the ship Carnival just ordered.  She’ll be the first of a
new, larger class–a 135,000-ton behemoth that will carry 4,000 passengers.(6)
Royal Caribbean already sails two, even larger ships, the “Allure of the Seas”
and the “Oasis of the Seas.”  Each carries 6,300 passengers and 2,400 crew.(7)
Each is also five times larger than the Titanic!

Third, these aren’t like ships of the past that were built to
take passengers from one port to the next.  When Carnival reinvented the cruise
industry in l972, each ship was designed to be the destination.  This brilliant
business model lures passengers with a low-priced deals, then encourages them to
spend and spend once on-board.  And there’s lots to spend on: upscale
restaurants, spa treatments, drinks at multiple bars and nightclubs, adult-only
serenity retreat, “meet and mingle” lounges, city-styled “shopping streets,”
casinos, plus “entertainment options all up and down the ship” as one Carnival
offering promotes.(8)  Why just take passengers from one port to another to
spend their money if they’ll spend money on the ship?(9)   That business plan is
working!  Royal Caribbean, the third largest cruise line, rolled out its public
offering just two weeks ago at $19 a share–those shares jumped 31% the first
day!  Carnival Corp., with 99 ships, is valued at $30 billion.(10)  Today’s
mega-ships compete for tourist dollars with land-based resorts totally unlike
yesterday’s ships that contributed to the ports they visited.(11)

Fourth, in spite of these facts and trends, the State Ports
Authority (SPA) unilaterally decided to wedge a giant new cruise terminal in at
Union Pier next to historic downtown.  The SPA never engaged Charleston’s
citizens in a discussion about alternative locations; in fact, it never
considered any other location even though regulations required such a study.(12)
It never researched other historic cities–those that haven’t been damaged by
cruise tourism–where their cruise terminals are farther removed from their
historic downtowns, neighborhoods and small streets.  So soon, unless fate or
common sense (both unlikely) or a lawsuit (only slightly less unlikely)
intervene, thousands more passengers, in concentrated throngs, will swarm
through the streets of Charleston’s historic districts with those crowds growing
by 7.2% year after year.

The SPA has also rejected every single idea to mitigate the
damage that a 100,000 sq. ft. cruise terminal, 9 acres of parking, traffic and
passenger congestion, the swarm and pollution of provisioning trucks, homeland
and border security, and increasingly large cruise ships will cause near
downtown.  The SPA refused to agree to binding limits on the size, number of
ships, or frequency of visits, and it’s refused to install shore power or demand
non-sulfer (toxic) diesel fuel be required while these ships idle for eight
hours a day in port.  It’s ignored every olive branch, every warning by doctors,
every concern raised about the damage cruise terminals have caused to other
historic cities.(14)  The only way to bring the SPA to the negotiating table is
to stop this “fast track” terminal approval…somehow.   If the brakes aren’t
applied, and this giant new cruise terminal is permitted for Union Pier, with an
existing 1800 foot pier that can accommodate these mega-ships, the impacts will
be devastating for Charleston’s historic districts including Ansonborough,
downtown, the French Quarter and South of Broad.  Once it’s built and the
dangers are finally realized, it’ll be too late.

Two things are certain. The SPA’s mantra ad nauseum about Charleston’s
“300 years of port history” is bunk.(15)  And so is the implied corollary that
Charleston’s fabled history can protect it from a future of unbridled,
unregulated tourism.  The continuous, explosive surge of cruise ship tourists is
unlike any threat from the past.  And given the immense resources and power of
the cruise industry, what local “regulations,” even if imposed, couldn’t be
weakened?  Charleston’s only defense is to get this proposed terminal moved
farther away…somehow.


#   #    #

a)  “Harboring Tourism” Symposium details and registration


aa)  Story about Symposium on Cruise Ships in Historic Ports set for
Charleston – Miami Herald


1)  Charleston names top city in the world [sic] – ABC News 4


2)  Conde Nast declares Charleston top tourist city in the World – Post and


3)  Positive news for Charleston Lawsuit – National Trust for Historic


4)  Florida-Caribbean Cruise Assn. – PDF


5)  Cruise critic – reader thread


6)  Carnival Cruise Lines – Wikipedia


7)  On Earth – Can the cruise industry clean up its act?


8)  The Carnival “Dream” – Carnival website


9)  Cruise industry throttling up again…  – AOL Daily Finance


10)  Norwegian Cruise Line IPO soars 31% – USA Today


11)  International Review of Management – Dubrovnik.  (PDF Download)www.econjournals.com/index.php/irmm/article/download/257/pdf

12)  Groundhog Day – Jay Williams blog


13)  The SPA’s “Defiant”  – Jay Williams blog


14)  It’s all ao Unnecessary – Jay Williams blog


15)  The Future isn’t what it Used to Be – The Charleston Mercury


How Can So Many Experts Be Wrong About the Detrimental Effects of Cruise Ship Air-Borne Emissions?

Original article can be seen here.

Could so many doctors and scientists be so wrong about the ill effects of diesel emissions on people’s health?

It would be tempting to read today’s commentary by Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley, and breathe easy about cruise ships emissions. But to do go there, you’d have to ignore the Charleston County Medical Society; the South Carolina Medical Association; the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment; the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; the Air Resources Board; the New England Journal of Medicine; the Journal of the American Medical Association; and the World Health Association.

Mr. Merrill argues that air quality in Charleston is fine, and that moving the State Ports Authority’s passenger terminal upriver 300 yards will make it even better. He says that the air meets state and federal requirements, and that cruise ships in port aren’t an issue for concern.

What he doesn’t say is that Carnival Cruise Lines, which has up to 104 cruises a year initiating in Charleston, is working to weaken federal air quality standards. Or that Carnival has helped other ports it calls on mitigate emissions by installing shoreside plug-in power. Someone there must see merit in using electricity and thus allowing cruise ships to turn off their diesel engines while docked.

The SPA contends that the cost of installing shoreside power does not justify doing it. Government standards, and a port in compliance with them, are enough to protect people who live nearby.

But the state medical association felt strongly enough about the matter to pass a resolution promoting shoreside power.

And numerous scientific research efforts have concluded, among other findings, that people who work around diesel driven equipment are more likely to develop lung cancer than those who are not exposed to diesel emissions; that diesel exhaust is associated with eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, headaches, lightheadedness and aggravated chronic respiratory problems; that fine particulate air pollution leads to an increase of lung cancer deaths and cardiopulmonary mortality; and that particulate matter is related to an increase in the risk of infant deaths.

Perhaps on Daniel Island, where Mr. Merrill lives, people don’t see it. But residents who live close to the passenger terminal complain that their porches and cars are black from the emissions. They don’t feel they can breathe a sigh of relief.

Not yet.