An unusual debate continues over the use of Charleston, South Carolina as a cruise port and the scale of the cruise industry's presence in this quaint old southern town. There is a lot to argue about - air emissions, waste discharge, traffic, noise and passenger congestion as well as the visual pollution of this beautiful city.
The debate is unusual insofar as few places, other than Alaska and California, have taken steps to hold cruise lines accountable to public health and community standards.
Cruise lines such as Carnival Corporation have a deplorable history of air emissions and waste discharge. They are used to having their way with third world countries and U.S. ports, only to suddenly leave town when they can think they can get a better deal elsewhere.
The Coastal Conservation League, the Preservation Society of Charleston and Charleston's Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood are wise to try and hold Carnival accountable to local laws and regulations.
The Charleston City Paper reports that the debate over cruise ship regulations in Charleston has now led to a "billboard kerfuffle."
The newspaper explains that in September, a citizens' group called Charleston Communities for Cruise Control put up a billboard (top) on I-26 that reads "SAVE CHARLESTON: SUPPORT CRUISE CONTROL." The billboard depicts the smoke funnels of a Carnival cruise ship looming over the skyline.
On Monday, an anti-regulation business group calling itself CruiseOnInCharleston.org erected its own billboard (bottom) with the message "CRUISE ON IN ... WELCOME and THANK YOU."
Its exciting to actually see this debate continuing about a cruise industry which usually bullies its way without discussion into one-sided business deals which contain no guarantees for the host ports. The billboard battle reflects that Charleston, unlike 95% of cruise ports, is a community with citizens of intelligence and integrity who are not about to roll over and let the cruise industry turn their community into a place like Key West or Nassau.
One day Carnival will pull out of Charleston with no notice when it finds that it can make more money sailing from another port which has no concern for issues like pollution and congestion. Carnival will then leave Charleston's businesses with nothing more than their welcome billboards.