Measles On Alaska-Bound Cruise Ship

According to Alaska Business Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Anchorage Quarantine Station notified the Alaska Section of Epidemiology on September 11, 2014 of a "suspected measles (rubeola) case associated with the cruise industry."

The press release stated that "an adult crew member had recent contact with a confirmed measles case abroad, and subsequently developed classic clinical symptoms of measles on September 9 while onboard a ship in Alaska waters."

The patient apparently flew on international and domestic flights as well as cruise travel while infectious. The release says that "all cruise passengers will be informed of possible exposure directly Cruise Ship Measleswhile on board the ship."

The release downplays the chances of the crew member infecting someone who might have disembarked in Alaska. But there remains the possibility that the infected crew member may have infected passengers or other crew members (to the extent that they were not vaccinated) who could get off the ship either in Vancouver or Seattle, assuming this was a cruise which originated in these cities.   

The governmental agencies did not mention the name of the cruise ship, but claims that all cruise passenger who possibly could have been infected "will be" notified.

The report raises troubling issues.

Why would the governmental agencies keep the name of the cruise ship secret, except to avoid embarrassment to the cruise line? 

Have the cruise passengers (and crew) in fact been informed? 

If not, when will the passengers (and crew) be notified?

I'm asking the readers of Cruise Law News the following questions:

Has anyone been notified of the risk of being infected during a cruise to Alaska?

Does anyone know what cruise ships were in Alaskan waters on September 9th?

Measles outbreaks on a cruise are very serious. We reported on such an outbreak earlier this year - Measles Outbreak On Costa Pacifica Cruise Ship.

Have a thought?  Please leave a comment or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

September 16 2014 Update:  We received the following comments on our Facebook page:

"I just returned from a cruise to Alaska I was on the cruise ship the Pearl we were notified on Saturday that we may have been exposed to the measles.

"We were notified - the crew member was removed from the ship while we were at sea." 

NCL Cruise Measles

Graphic (top): www.gmanetwork.com

Princess Tours Bus Accident in Alaska Kills Princess Cruises Employee

Princess Cruise Bus AccidentNews sources in Alaska are reporting that a Princess Cruises employee was killed when a Princess Tours excursion bus overturned on a rain slicked highway in Alaska.

The accident occurred at mile 173 on Parks Highway, approximately 200 miles south of Fairbanks.

The Frontiersman reports that this is the second serious incident involving a Princess-owned bus on a remote stretch of road in the past month. Here's a story about the prior accident involving a Princess bus.

The photograph of the crushed bus (left) was published by the Frontiersman via Tim Whitney.

The Cruise Fever websites says that "the bus was heading northbound along the Denali National Park from Mt. McKinley Wilderness Lodge to the Princess Wilderness Lodge" when the accident happened. 

KTUU states that three people, all Princess employees, were on board the bus when it crashed and the front end was crushed. 

The woman who died was from Malaysia and working in Alaska. A second Princess employee was seriously injured. The bus driver was not injured.  

State Troopers say that excessive speed was a factor in the accident.  

Have a comment?  Please join the discussion on our Facebook page

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Fewer Cruise Passengers Sail From Seattle

Cruise Seattle Alaska King 5 TV reports that there has been a drop in the number of departures of cruise ship and cruise passengers through Seattle.

The video below features the Carnival Miracle which arrived back in Seattle after a cruise to Alaska.

805,000 passengers and 178 cruise ships will pass through Seattle during the May-September cruise season. That's compared to 870,000 passengers and 187 ships in 2013, and 934,900 passengers and 202 vessels in 2012.

The estimated drop of 8% in passengers equates to a loss of $30 million hit to the local economy. 

The seafood businesses and selling fresh salmon at Pike Place Market are a major attraction to cruise passengers arriving in Seattle. 

I'm currently in Seattle with my law partner (and spouse). We attended a vessel inspection of the Carnival Miracle yesterday.   

Is Juneau's Cruise Ship Disaster Exercise A Joke?

KTOO in Alaska published an article today entitled "Is Juneau Ready for a Cruise Ship Security Threat?

The article states that Juneau, which receives over 1,000,000 cruise passengers a year, is conducting an emergency exercise today involving a "cruise ship security threat." 

The article quotes Emergency Programs Manager Tom Mattice saying that the emergency exercise involves cruise ship passengers and some type of "large-scale" security event. 

Coast Guard employees, city officials, fire and rescue personnel, police officers, cruise line officials and relief organizations like the American Red Cross will be involved in the drill.

The city official calls this a "large-scale event" but that seems hardly true. A reader of our Facebook page sent us a link from the Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska requesting " . . . up to (40) enthusiastic volunteers to role play as victims/patients for sheltering, mental health and medical victims." No actual cruise ships will be involved.

Three dozen volunteers playing injured and no cruise ship in sight? That's hardly a realistic or "large scale" test.  

The cruise ships sailing to Alaska today have 2,000 to 4,000 passengers aboard, in addition to crew members from 60 different countries. Many critics of the cruise industry are concerned that the local Emergency Cruise Ship Disaster Exerciseports and emergency response officials will be overwhelmed by a true large scale cruise disaster.  

A former cruise safety manager recently sent a letter to Senator Rockefeller outlining his concerns. Read "Let’s Not Wait for a Cruise Line Disaster to Protect Passengers." I have written many cautionary stories like this one - "Titanic Redux? Can Royal Caribbean Safely Evacuate 8,500 Passengers & Crew from the Oasis of the Seas?"

Many local emergency exercises like the one in Juneau today serve as little more than a public relations tool to tout that cruising is safe and everyone is prepared if something goes wrong.

Last year, the Coast Guard and the Bahamas participated in a emergency exercise where "actors"(photo above right) played injured cruise ship passengers and were attended to by the Bahamian police.  

I'm sure that the forty or so actors lying around down town Juneau with fake bandages around their heads today were well taken care of by the emergency response teams which probably had more emergency personnel than the "victims."

Anyone have photos of the event? We'd be pleased to post them . . .  

Additional Info:

Resolution Adopting the Cruise Ship Shore-Side Response Plan for Juneau

Cruise Ship Emergency Response Overview for Juneau 

April 3 2014 Update:  Scenario involved barge with explosives colliding with cruise ship at port in Juneau (make believe) with only 26 passengers going to the hospital . . .

And here are the PR comments:

“We have one of the best teams out there for emergencies."

"We’re like family, we’ve been doing this together for so long."

“I thought it was very successful."

Coast Guard Medevacs Cruise Passenger From Diamond Princess

KCAW reports that a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, based in Sitka, Alaska, medevaced a 72-year-old woman from the cruise ship Diamond Princess in Icy Strait on September 19, 2013.

The woman, suffering from convulsions, was safely transferred to awaiting emergency medical personnel in Sitka, about 100 miles south of Icy Strait. EMS then transported her to Sitka Community Hospital for further care.

Seas were calm at the time of the medevac, with 12 mile winds and 6 miles visibility.

The video below is courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard / Air Station Sitka. 

 

 

Millennium Passengers Fear Riot & Call 911

KRBD FM Community Radio for Southeast Alaska has an interesting story today about cruise passengers aboard the broken down Celebrity Millennium cruise ship calling 911 in Ketchikan out of fear that a "riot" would break out. 

It seems like some cruise passengers were unruly about the cancellation of the cruise and communications about where the passengers were to be flown.

A local police chief told KRBD:

“We, the police department, received three 911 calls from passengers on the MV Millennium who stated that people were getting unruly on board the ship, and they believed a riot was about to begin. Officers responded to the ship, met with ship security and advised them of the 911 calls. Ship security and officers contacted approximately 500 guests on the third floor of the vessel, and subsequently peace was restored and officers left.”

Read more: Passengers on Troubled Cruise Ship Near Rioting, Callers Told Ketchikan Police

Just imagine if the Millennium was stuck in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico for four or five days.

Millennium Cruise ship Alaska

Story & Photo Credit: KRBD

Engine Problems Disable Celebrity Millennium in Alaska

Millennium Cruise ShipA newspaper in Alaska is reporting that the Celebrity Millennium cruise ship, which was suppose to have sailed on Friday from Seward, will be stuck in port until at least Tuesday due to engine problems.

The cruise ship arrived four hours late to Seward on Friday after experiencing an electrical problem with one of the ship’s two propulsion systems while at sea. 

The newspaper says that over 2,000 passengers are stranded. Many people were left scrambling to find a way back to Anchorage. Rental cars are scarce and buses dedicated to pre-booked excursions are not available to the majority of the passengers. The scheduled port stops in Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway will be missed.

Celebrity is saying that it will refund the passengers' ticket fares plus provide a credit toward another cruise in the future. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Captain-Tucker

Story Credit: Professor Ross Klein's website CruiseJunkie.com

Ill Cruise Passenger Medevaced From Coral Princess

The Alaska Dispatch reports that a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter medevaced an ill cruise ship passenger off a cruise ship yesterday.

The Jayhawk helicopter crew, stationed in Sitka, flew to the Princess Cruises' Coral Princess cruise ship while it was in Glacier Bay. The helicopter hoisted the passenger, who was suffering from stroke-like symptoms, and transported her to Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau.   

Coral Princess Glacier Bay Alaska

Photo Credit: Get Up and Go Magazine 

Celebrity Millennium Puke Cruise Arrives in Alaska

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the Celebrity Millennium cruise ship sailed to Seward, Alaska last Friday, May 10th, with an elevated number of passengers and crew with a gastrointestinal illness.  164 of its 1,963 passengers and 30 of its 935 crew members experienced the gastro-illness.

The CDC states that the "causative agent" (type of pathogen) is "unknown," although at least one newspaper, the Seward City News, states that the sickness outbreak is believed to be caused by norovirus.

Comments to the newspaper complained about cruise passengers coughing and hacking in public and the locals having to be on higher alert to wash their hands when cruise ships come into port.  

Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Captain-Tucker

Celebrity Millennium Cruise Ship Norovirus

 

A Step Backwards: Alaska Yields to Cruise Industry Lobbying and Repeals Wastewater Restrictions.

Want some some zinc, nickel and copper in your Alaskan salmon? Well, now you can.

Today the Republican controlled Alaska Senate voted 14 to 6 to approve a law proposed by Governor Parnell to abolish cruise ship wastewater standards enacted in 2006.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the new law will allow the cruise industry to indefinitely discharge ammonia, a product of human waste, and heavy metals, dissolved from ship plumbing. Those discharges would have been banned in 2015 under a 2006 citizen initiative.

Alaska Air and Water PollutionThe new law dismantles a scientific advisory panel on cruise ship wastewater created in 2009. 

Formerly the most progressive state in the U.S. protecting its waters from harmful cruise ship discharges, Alaska was intimidated by the cruise industry to roll back its environmental regulations to permit cruise lines to dump high levels of waste by-products and heavy metals like zinc, copper and nickel.   

Ammonia contributes to algae blooms and harms shellfish. Copper, one of the heavy metals, has been shown to harmful to salmon. 

Fishing groups, environmentalists, Alaska native organizations and residents of coastal communities spoke out against the new pro-cruise line law.

During Tuesday's floor debate, Senator Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, listed a series of pollution violations by cruise ships over the years, including 41 in 2009. 

You can read our last article about this mess here: The Dirty Alaskan Cruise Industry Just Got Dirtier

What a big victory for the Miami-based cruise industry.

And what a disgrace for the state of Alaska.

Governor Parnell Continues to Advance Dirty Cruise Industry's Interests

Governor Parnell and the pro-cruise pollution legislators in Alaska have some new talking points in their efforts to weaken the cruise line waste water restrictions. They say that its not the cruise sewage that will harm the state's image but their opponents' "hype" that easing the standards will result in "dirty water and terrible discharges."        

Putting aside for a moment the nasty spectacle of dumping partially treated sewage into the water, the fact is that cruise ship water treatment devices clearly do not treat all of the wastewater discharged in Alaskan waters in compliance with Alaska’s water quality standards regarding ammonia, as well as the heavy metals - copper, nickel and zinc.

Alaska Cruise Ship Pollution It's unhealthy and dangerous to release these heavy metals into the waters where they will find their way in the fish, particularly salmon. 

Three years ago, the cruise industry flat out threatened Governor Parnell that it would boycott Alaska unless he would agree to work with the cruise lines to avoid pollution regulations. Read Governor Parnell Gets Punked.

Instead of demanding better technologies to address this problem, as required by the 2006 initiatives, Governor is heading the state in the other direction where no efforts will be made to address the problems with heavy metals. Meanwhile, the sewage (whether partially treated or not) will continue to fill the Alaskan waters.   

A newspaper in Ketchikan explains that this is a huge problem given the enormous amount of sewage and toxic by-products which cruise ships will dump in Alaskan waters:

"About 30 cruise ships carrying a total of nearly one million people visit Alaska over a five month period. This result is over one billion gallons of cruise discharges being dumped into unknown areas of Alaska state waters every year."

The newspaper also points out that on January 29th, as the relaxed laws were being fast tracked by legislators, Princess Cruises was fined $20,000 (a slap on the wrist) when one of its cruise ships, the 2,590 passenger Golden Princess, discharged 66,000 gallons of chlorinated pool water into Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.  

Zinc, nickel and copper in the fish and chlorine in the water. Alaska is heading backwards.

Read our last article on these disturbing developments in Alaska:

The Dirty Alaskan Cruise Industry Just Got Dirtier

The Dirty Alaskan Cruise Industry Just Got Dirtier

In 2006, Alaskan citizens sent a clear message to the cruise industry that cruise ships could not treat the beautiful waters of Alaska like a toilet.  

Seven years ago Alaskan voters approved legislation that prohibited cruise ships from discharging "untreated sewage, treated sewage, graywater or other wastewaters in a manner that violates any applicable effluent limits or standards under state or federal law, including Alaska Water Quality Standards governing pollution at the point of discharge.” 

Alaska Salmon Fisheries - Cruise Ship PollutionThe Alaskan regulations strictly restricted the level of ammonia, copper, nickel and zinc.  As of 2009, cruise ships were routinely being caught violating the Alaska regulations.  In this chart, in 2009 alone, there were forty-one (41) violations of Alaska'a waster water and air emission laws by Celebrity, HAL, NCL, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Silverseas, with Carnival-owned Princess and HAL cruise ships being the greatest offenders. 

The Miami-based cruise industry is used to getting its way. Cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean are used to dumping untreated sewage in the waters of powerless Caribbean countries. Most port nations and even most states in the U.S. where the cruise lines base their cruise ships have not enacted any waste water discharge regulations whatsoever.  

But Alaska was different,  It not only passed legislation that banned the nasty cruise line practice of opening the bowels of the huge ships into the state's waters but it took steps to levy a realistic head tax of $50 per passenger to offset the damage to Alaska's infrastructure caused by the massive cruise ships.

The cruise lines did not like Alaska's exercise of its state rights one bit. The cruise industry spent millions of dollars lobbying against waste water regulations. It attacked the green water scientists, removed the honest water experts from oversight panels, inserted cruise industry hacks, and bullied state officials and concerned citizens.  

Carnival led the charge. It threatened Alaskan Governor Parnell that it would pull its ships from Alaska and it sued the state along with other cruise lines to avoid the $50 head tax.

Alaskan Governor Parnell backed down and sent a message to the cruise industry that the state's water emission laws are negotiable. Alaska caved in and reduced its $50 head tax. Alaska began sliding down the slippery slope as the cruise lines increased their lobbying and threatened to boycott Alaska. 

The result today is that at Governor Parnell's urging, the House of Representatives just voted to essentially repeal all of the 2006 waster water initiatives. The debate is now moving to the Senate.

A repeal of the 2006 laws will be disastrous to the waters of Alaska.

Alaskan Cruise Ship - Pollution Waste WaterAs explained in this thoughtful blog, "a single cruise ship produces 210,000 gallons of sewage, over a million gallons of greywater, 130 gallons of hazardous wastes such as poisonous metals, and 25,000 gallons of oily bilge water in a single week-long cruise. There are 28 very large cruise ships which operate up to 150 days annually in Alaska. Such large quantities of pollution are a threat to Alaska’s critical fisheries." 

This results is approximately 1,064,448,000 gallons of sewage and wastewater being dumped into Alaska state waters every year. The really sinister part of the abandonment of the pollution laws is that Republicans rejected Democratic amendments which would have required disclosure of the location of sewage discharges and protected fisheries from sewage discharges.

The thought of the cruise industry dumping over a billion gallons of cruise ship crap into the salmon filled waters is really gross.  They can keep the locations secret too.  I hate to think of all of the norovirus-laden poop floating around with the fish.  But this is the reality of a cruise industry which projects itself as a steward of the seas but is actually the Alaskan waters' worst enemy.

 

Photo:

Salmon - earthjustice.com

Princess Cruises Fined for Dumping 66,000 Gallons of Chlorinated Water into Glacier Bay in Alaska

KTOO news station in Alaska reports today that the Environmental Protection Agency fined Princess Cruises $20,000 for dumping water from six swimming pools aboard the Golden Princess cruise ship into Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in 2011.

The EPA announced the fine against the cruise line yesterday.

Princess was forced to sign a consent agreement admitting responsibility and subjecting itself to a final court order. Princess admitted that it violated the Clean Water Act in May 2011 when it discharged Princess Cruises Pollution Glacier Bay Alaskamore than 66,000 gallons of pool water into the pristine waters of Glacier Bay.

Princess Cruises claims that a "software malfunction," on the Golden Princess, somehow caused all six of the pool valves to open. This dumped chlorinated water from all of the cruise ship’s pools as well as whirlpools into the national park and preserve.

The waste-water permits for large cruise ships prohibit the discharge of pool and spa water in national parks and refuges. 

The fine comes at a time when the Governor of Alaska is agreeing to roll back the strict water emission laws of Alaska as urged by the cruise industry

Princess Cruises has the worst environmental record in the Alaskan waters, and has been caught discharging illegal levels of waste water over the recent years.  Before the state of Alaska began passing strict environmental laws, the cruise industry openly dumped raw sewage and chemicals throughout the Alaskan waters.   

Royal Caribbean Passenger Dies While Kayaking in Alaska

The Juneau Empire newspaper reports today that a cruise ship passenger from Texas died after after his kayak overturned in Mendenhall Lake in Juneau, Alaska on Sunday. 

A spokeswoman for the Tongass National Forest stated that the deceased cruise passengers was 62 year old Michael Ray Fullerton.  Mr. Fullerton was with other family members, from a cruise ship, who rented kayaks to tour a lake at the foot of Mendenhall Glacier.  

A public radio station in Alaska, KTOO News, indicated that the group was from Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship. "They rented tandem kayaks and safety gear from Alaska Boat and Kayak in Auke Bay about 3 p.m., according to owner Sean Janes. He said the group was not on a Royal Caribbean Rhapsody of the Seas - Kayaking Death - Juneauguided trip. He said they were all given a safety briefing before they loaded their kayaks and gear in their car to drive to the lake."

The articles suggest that Mr. Fullerton allegedly became tired and the group tied their kayaks together. The kayaks overturned, although the articles are unclear how this happened. Other family members were treated for hypothermia at a hospital and released.

Last year we reported on a cruise passenger from the Disney Wonder who died while kayaking in Alaska. 

 

Photo: Royal Caribbean Cruises website

Alaska Longshore Union: Cruise Lines Violate U.S. Laws

The Juneau Empire published an interesting article this morning about how the cruise industry routinely ignores a U.S. law requiring the use of U.S. longshore workers to perform certain duties, such as operating tender boats and handling cargo and luggage.   

The newspaper reports that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) plans to picket today over the practice of the cruise lines which refuse to utilize U.S. union workers when the foreign flagged cruise ships call on Juneau and other ports in Alaska.

Longshore Union - Alaska - Cruise Ships - ILWUThe president of the local longshore union (Alaska Longshore Division Local 200 Unit 16) is quoted in the newspaper as saying that the cruise industry is in "blatant disregard" of the Immigration and Nationality Act - INA: ACT 258 (Limitations On Performance Of Longshore work By Alien Crewmen)

A representative of the cruise industry responded to the longshore union's complaints by stating that the cruise ships only recently began utilizing U.S. ship crew members for tender boat operations after the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol required the use of American employees.

The issue remains whether the cruise lines are violating the INA by not using union workers to perform the tender and other longshore operations. 

The union representative stated that the union employees intend to demonstrate in Juneau and later in Sitka and Ketchikan, but are not going to disrupt the cruise ship operations.

in addition to Alaska, the ILWU primarily represents dock workers on the West Coast of the U.S., Hawaii and British Columbia, Canada.  The union was established in 1937 after the 1934 "West Coast Waterfront Strike," a 3 month long strike that turned violent in California. 

This issue is just the latest dispute between the ILWU and the cruise industry.  Cruise ships routinely try and use their non-U.S. non-union crewmembers to perform shore-side longshore duties such cargo work, baggage handling, tender operations, and making electrical power connections when the cruise ships are in port.            

Disney Cruise Line Passenger Dies During Kayaking Excursion

A passenger from the Disney Wonder cruise ship kayaking in Juneau was found dead over the past weekend.  KINY Radio reports that the U.S. Coast Guard was notified Saturday morning and found 67-year-old cruise passenger Robert Newell unconscious in a kayak in the vicinity of Spuhn Island.

The Coast Guard brought him ashore, and rescue personnel declared him dead at the scene.

 

Alaska Reduces Taxes and Relaxes Pollution Standards For Bullying Cruise Lines

The Juneau Empire reports that Alaska just weakened its wastewater regulations at the cruise industry's request.  Cruise ships are now permitted to dump greater amount of ammonia (from fecal matter), copper, nickel and zinc in Alaska's pristine waters.

The newspaper reports that the cruise industry is "pleased" and  and "appreciates" the new wastewater discharge rules.

The cruise industry bullied Alaska, threatening the state with pulling cruise ships from Alaska if the wastewater standards were not relaxed.  Some cruise lines planned to reduce time in the ports in Alaska, so that they could sail outside of state waters and dump wastewater without being subject to Alaska's strict standards.

Cruise Ship Pollution - Wastewater - EmissionsCruise lines have been toying with Alaska even since its citizens passed an initiative to increase taxes and enact wastewater regulations to protect Alaskan waters from massively polluting cruise ships.  On Earth Day last week, the New York Times characterized cruise lines as "notorious polluters."  

The cruise industry is having its way with Alaska at this point.

It's agenda was first to wiggle out of Alaska's taxes, but the tax issue was never about whether the $46 head tax was too high.  The cruise lines didn't pay the tax in the first place.  Cruise passengers did.  It is ludicrous to suggest that a family would decide to cruise if the tax were $34 but not cruise at $46.

The real issue has always been the issue of whether the cruise industry would permit a state like Alaska to regulate it.  State of the art pollution technology is expensive.  Cruise lines don't pay any Federal taxes on the $35,000,000,000 they collect on fares each year from tax paying Americans. They don't want to set a precedent of allowing states to impose standards to protect their natural resources.  It's cheaper to pollute.

Earlier this year, the cruise industry twisted the arms of some of the Republican legislators in Alaska and kicked green water scientist Gershon Cohen off of the state's wastewater panel.  This was pay back for Mr. Cohen's work in passing the regulations which strengthened  Alaska's environmental regulations.  With Mr. Cohen removed from the panel, it was easy pickings to gut the pollution standards to benefit the polluters.     

A few weeks ago, Alaska announced it was reducing it's "head tax" on cruise passenger by 25%.  Today, it has relaxed its pollution regulations.  All of this is working exactly as the cruise industry planned after a year of threats and lawsuits. 

The Juneau Empire printed a letter from an Alaskan reader "Beaten Up By Bullies."

It's amazing to see how a "notorious polluting" Miami-based industry which collects $35 billion a year tax-free can threaten and bully Alaska to get exactly what it wants - reduced state taxes, relaxed pollution laws, and more profits . . .

 

For additional information, consider reading:

Polluting Cruise Industry Tries Again to Avoid Alaskan Regulations

 

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Cruise Industry Backs Alaska Down

The Alaska Senate approved a measure today which will lower Alaska's head tax on cruise ship passengers by at least $11.50 a passenger - from $46 to $34.50.

Count this one as a big win for Carnival and it subsidiaries - Princess Cruises and Holland America Line - which are the major polluters of Alaska's waters.    

Alaska Head Tax - Cruise Pollution In exchange for the tax reduction, the Miami-based cruise lines have more or less suggested that they may dismiss the lawsuit filed against Alaska.

Three Democrat Senators dissented, Senate Majority Leader Johnny Elli, Bill Wielechowski and Hollis French.  The bill lowering the taxes must still pass the House. 

There is no agreement that cruise ships, which Carnival and its subsidiaries re-positioned out of Alaska, will return if the tax cut takes effect.  There also is no guarantee that another cruise association or individual cruise lines will not sue Alaska to try and slip out of the state's taxes. 

Carnival played this beautifully.  Parlaying a bogus lawsuit and strong arm tactics to effectively repeal the will of the Alaskan citizens.  The cruise industry has set the stage for concessions from Alaska for Carnival's polluting cruise ships in the future.  

 

Credits:                Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Power to the People of Alaska

The Anchorage Daily News has an interesting editorial today by Alaska resident and green water scientist Gershon Cohen entitled "Power to the People, Not the Cruise Industry."  He characterizes Governor Parnell's decision to reduce the cruise "head tax" from $46 a cruise passenger to only $19 as a sell out to the Miami-based cruise lines.

Dr. Cohen is right.  The citizens of Alaska voted for the tax to protect their state and its beautiful waters from exploitation and pollution by cruise ships operated by Carnival and Royal Caribbean and their subsidiaries - Celebrity, Holland America Lines, and Princess Cruises.  Governor Parnell's unilateral decision to dump 60% of the cruise tax approved by Alaskan voters raises the Cruise Ship Pollution - Alaskaquestion - who is calling the shots here?  The people of Alaska or Carnival's tax-avoiding Mickey Arison

Dr. Cohen has a right to be sensitive about Carnival's control over the politics in Alaska.  When Dr. Cohen was appointed to a waste water panel which regulated cruise ship emissions, the cruise industry complained and Dr. Cohen was unceremoniously removed.      

I written many articles about how foreign incorporated cruise lines pay zero federal taxes on the $35,000,000,000 (billion) in cruise fares from mostly U.S. tax-paying citizens - by flagging their cruise ships in foreign countries.  And there is no doubt that the cruise lines are making money hand over fist.  Just the other day, Forbes announced three cruise tycoons as some of the richest people in the world - "Cruise Line Fat Cat Billionaires."

The Miami cruise lines may be rich, but its the people of Alaska who have the power.  Unless they want to follow Governor Parnell's lead and roll over and play dead for Mickey and his Miami-based cruise ships. 

 

Additional Information to Consider:  In 2009, Alaska issued a record number of waste water violation notices to the cruise industry.  The citizens of Alaska are smart to assess a fair tax against these cruise ships to protect their waters and support the state's infrastructure. 

The major polluters and violators of Alaska's environmental laws were Princess Cruises (photo above) and Holland America Lines (HAL). Listen here for audio from a local NPR station in Sitka, Alaska.

 

Credits:

Princess cruise ship                  Ed Schoenfeld (via NPR KCAW-FM)

Polluting Cruises Lines Oppose Clean Air Law

The cruise industry is preparing to fight against clean air regulations which will protect the U.S. and Canada from the nasty bunker fuels burned by hundreds of cruise ships.

Reuters reports that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is proposing a plan to create a buffer zone around the U.S. and Canada which will require low emissions from cruise ships. 

 

 

We have reported on the cruise industry's use of high-sulfur bunker fuels in prior articles:

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

Super Ships - Rogues on the High Seas

Polluting Cruise Industry Tries Again to Avoid Alaskan Regulations

The Reuters article explains that the proposed "Emissions Control Area" will extend 200 nautical miles around the coast of the two nations and set stringent new limits on air pollution from ocean-going ships beginning in 2015.

The use of high sulfur fuel creates environmental and health problems.  In a prior article, we explained that cruise ships are using fuel containing up to 4.5 per cent sulfur. That is 4,500 times more than is allowed in car fuel in Europe.  The largest ships emit as much as 5,000 tons of sulfur a year – the same as 50,000,000 cars, each releasing an average of only 100 grams of sulfur a year.

The sulfur comes out of ship funnels as tiny particles which are embedded deep into your lungs. The inhaled sulfur causes inflammation of the linings of the lungs, breathing problems, heart disease and cancer.  The major shipping routes of cargo ships and cruise ships bring these deadly emissions right into the port and seaboard cities.  

Take a look at the photograph below of Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas - smoking up a port in Alaska with bunker fuel.  Nasty.  Nasty.  Nasty.  

Holland America Line's CEO, Stein Kruse, complained that the new air law "essentially means all the current fuel that we burn cannot be burned within 200 miles." 

Exactly.

Bunker Fuel - Cruise Pollution

 March 22, 2010 Update:

TreeHugger.com has an interesting article - Cruise Liner Pollution Kills Up To 8,300 People a Year in US and Canada, says EPA:

". . . the EPA argues that adopting the pollution controls would clear the air of particulates in port cities--and would save 8,300 lives a year. Which would mean that unregulated pollution from cruise lines is currently killing 8,300 people a year in the US and Canada . . .

Of course, the cruise industry execs are crying foul--they complain that the pollution controls would force them to pay up to 40% more for low sulfur fuels, and that they would no longer be able to burn any of the fuels they currently use within 200 miles of land. To which I say, Good. 

To cruise ship executives: I am sorry that your fuel expenses will rise--perhaps you will have to increase the price of admission for your monolithic floating tributes to excess, in order to prevent some 8,300 people from dying every year for the crime of happening to live in port cities.

Okay, so that may have been a tad melodramatic--but it seems to me that there's a pretty strong case for limiting pollution from ships, and that the industry's case against doing so rests only on the complaint that it would be expensive. Thankfully for the 8,300 folks whose lives are likely to be saved by the measure, the proposal looks likely to be adopted by the IMO--leaving the world a slightly less polluted place."

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Governor Parnell Gets Punked

Stein Kruse Scold Alaskan Governor ParnellEarlier this week, I attended the "Cruise Shipping Miami" convention here in Miami and reported on the threats against Alaska's Governor Parnell leveled by Holland American Lines' CEO Stein Kruse to pull HAL cruise ships from Alaska. (photo courtesy Travel Agent Central)

As we all know, HAL is wholly owned by Carnival and Kruse reports directly to Carnival CEO and multi-billionaire Mickey Arison.  Mickey has been threatening Alaska ever since the state's voters passed legislation to protect its waters from major polluters like HAL, Princess Cruises and other subsidiaries of Carnival who cruise to Alaska.       

But the issue is not the $50 head tax, as Carnival's lackeys argue.  Its the fact that Alaska has serious environmental regulations which the cruise industry wants to avoid. 

Did the cruise industry's tongue lashing and finger pointing work?  Newspapers like the Alaska Daily News and the Alaska Journal are now reporting that the Governor now wants to reduce the cruise head tax by 25% and make Alaska more conducive to attracting cruise ships.  

In exchange for lower taxes, the cruise industry would drop its lawsuit to repeal the tax and send Alaska Governor Parnell - I promise to do what the cruise lines tell me to do more ships to Alaska. 

The fact that these huge cruise ships burn nasty bunker fuels and discharge massive amount of ammonium, phosphorus, and fecal matter into Alaskan waters was probably not a topic of conversation when Governor Parnell (right) was chatting  with the cruise line executives. 

Alaskan voters previously voted in favor of the cruise tax to protect its waters.  Who did Governor Parnell pledge his allegiance to?  The citizens of Alaska, or the Miami-based cruise lines?  

Wiggling out of Alaska's laws will be the cruise industry's next step.  Cruise lines don't like to be regulated, especially where Alaska's environmental regulations cause the cruise industry to spend money on state-of-the-art wastewater technology.

 

Credits:

Cruise line executives       Travel Agent Central

Polluting Cruise Industry Tries Again to Avoid Alaskan Regulations

Newspapers in Alaska are reporting that cruise lines are trying to avoid Alaska's strict waste water laws. 

The Juneau Empire reports that the cruise industry is complaining to lawmakers in Alaska that the limits on ammonia are too strict.  The cruise industry's "Alaska Cruise Association" - comprised of Miami based cruise lines - is again posturing to reposition its cruise ships if they cannot make a deal which permits them to pollute. 

The cruise industry is known for its strong arm tactics of threatening financial harm to the port cities if they can't get their way around environmental regulations. The newspaper quotes a consultant for the "Alaska Cruise Association, Mike Tibbles, as saying: 

"If this stands, ship deployments could be altered and port times may be reduced," he said. "The result could very likely be fewer economic opportunities for our businesses."

Alaska passed strict wastewater regulations in 2006 for sewage, graywater and other treated water dumped into state waters.

The president of the "Responsible Cruising in Alaska" organization, Chip Thoma, believes that the cruise industry's history of polluting Alaskan waters proves the need to regulate cruise ship discharges: 

"The cruise ships engaged in a great deal of deception to hide their malfeasance." 

Vision of the Seas - Royal Caribbean - Bunker Fuel - Emissions

The carbon footprint of the cruise industry is incredible.  Cruise ships burn nasty bunker fuel and dump millions of gallons of sewage.  If left unregulated, the cruise industry will save money by avoiding implementing new technologies.  We have addressed cruise line pollution and the battle to protect Alaska's waters from the cruise industry's discharges of sewage in prior articles:

Cruise Industry Retaliates Against Green Water Scientist

Cruise Industry Dumps Green Water Scientist Overboard, Appoints Law Firm Employee to Waste Water Panel

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

Polluting Cruise Industry Files Lawsuit to Avoid Alaskan Tax

The "Alaska" Cruise Association's Lawsuit Against Alaska - Pay Back By Tax-Avoiding Miami Cruise Lines

Carnival Announces Quarterly Profits of $1,100,000,000 - But Pushes Lawsuit Against Alaska Over $50 Tax

Cruise Industry Exaggerates Effect of $50 Alaska Tax and Hides Financial Information    

Cruise Air Emissions - Vision of the Seas - Royal Caribbean

 

Credits:

Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas cruise ship    AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Celebrity Cruises' Mercury cruise ship                      AlaskanLibrarian's Flickr photostream

Cruise Industry Dumps Green Water Scientist Overboard, Appoints Law Firm Employee to Waste Water Panel

There is an interesting article today in the Juneau Empire "Legislators Debate Removal of Cruise Panel Member Cohen - Cruise Ally Defends Removal of Industry Foe."

Craig Johnson - Cruise Line Supporter - Alaska The article points out that a Republican legislator, Craig Johnson (photo left), is defending the removal of waste water scientist Gershon Cohen (photo below) from a cruise ship science advisory panel at the insistence of the cruise industry. Representative Johnson is quoted as stating: "I applaud the department for doing the right thing and depoliticizing the panel."

"Depoliticizing the panel?"  

Representative Johnson is known for co-sponsoring a bill to repeal a water-pollution provision in a cruise-ship law that voters approved in 2006.  The Alaskan law prevents state regulators from granting "mixing zones" to cruise ships which would permit the ships' pollution discharge to exceed state standards.  The cruise industry has been lobbying heavily to avoid the strict pollution regulations in Alaska. 

Dumping Mr. Cohen overboard is an end run around environmental laws which protect Alaskan waters.   

While representative Johnson supports sinking Mr. Cohen (who has a master's degree in molecular biology and a doctorate in environmental policy), he supports the appointment of an employee of a law firm which represents the cruise industry on water regulatory issues.

The waste water panel includes Mr. Lincoln Loehr, who is described as a paralegal employed by the law firm of Stoel Rives LLP.  Mr. Loehr works with lawyers who represent the interests of cruise Cruise Ship Pollution - Alaskalines and other large corporate polluters.  In addition to cruise lines, the Stoel Rives law firm brochure states that their lawyers represent the interests of:

 .  .  . chemical plants, mines, power plants, pulp and paper mills, ranches, food processors, steel mills and real estate developers.

The law firm advertises its ability to handle water quality matters "that can severely impact business operations."

Representative Johnson is also quoted in the article as questioning climate change and arguing that science is too often being "politicized."  While claiming to want to "depoliticize" the panel by removing Mr. Cohen, representative Johnson actually wants to politicize the panel with friends of the cruise industry.  

Democratic representative Beth Kerttula stated the obvious: "A number of us have grave, grave Gershon Cohen - Green Waterconcerns about the agency's behavior and about the credibility of the panel as it will now be." 

We pointed out in a prior blog article that Mr. Cohen assisted Alaska in adopting laws to protect its waters from cruise ship pollution.

Representative Johnson and other Republican legislators fit squarely in the cruise industry's pocket.  Dumping Mr. Cohen is pay back, pure and simple, for his protection of Alaska against the $35 billion cruise industry's corporate practices. With Mr. Cohen out of the picture, the cruise industry will pressure its friends on the panel members to devise water quality matters with the cruise industry's business interests in mind.   

The issue is not an academic debate. Just take a look at how one cruise line, Princess Cruises, repeatedly violated Alaskan waster water regulations:    

In September, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific  PrincessSapphire Princess and Sea Princess were cited for violating the Alaska waste water quality standards.  Again, in October, the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Pacific Princess, Sapphire Princess and Sea Princess - together with the Golden Princess - were cited for water discharge violations.

In November, the same culprits - the Diamond Princess, Island Princess, Sea Princess, Golden Princess and Diamond Princess were busted for pollution.

The result of a cruise industry dominated waste water panel will be greater discharges of copper, ammonia, zinc, bacteria and fecal matter into Alaska's pristine waters.

Coral Princess - Alaska - Pollution - Waste Water Violations

 

If you are interested in other articles regarding cruise pollution, consider reading some of our other articles:

Super Ships - Rogues on the High Seas

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

Also consider reading:

"Cruise on Down to our Dumping Ground

 

Credits:

Representative Craig Johnson                  Alaskan State Legislature

Gershon Cohen                    Clean Water Network

Coral Princess     AP via New York Time "Cruise Lines Face More Policing of Waste Disposal"

Cruise Industry Retaliates Against Green Water Scientist

Newspapers in Alaska are reporting that the cruise industry is behind the sudden removal of a highly qualified green water scientist from an advisory council on cruise ship waste water discharge.

Gershon Cohen - Cruise Pollution - AlaskaIn December 2009, the Alaskan Department of Environmental Conservation ("DEC") invited environmental scientist Gershon Cohen to join the state's cruise ship waste water treatment science panel.  The advisory panel has 11 members, with experts in naval architecture, marine engineering and waste water treatment. A representative of the cruise industry sits on the panel as well.

However, the DEC Commissioner, Larry Hartig, disinvited Cohen due to what is described in the newspapers as "corporate influence and pressure" by the cruise industry.

Dr. Cohen is one of the foremost experts in the world on water pollution and clean water technologies.  He has a background in biological sciences, with a Masters Degree in Molecular Biology.  He also is educated in water policy law, with a Ph.D. in Environmental Policy.  Dr. Cohen co-founded the Alaska Clean Water Alliance (ACWA) in 1992, which played a lead role in numerous successful clean-water campaigns. Dr. Cohen founded the Campaign to Safeguard America's Waters (C-SAW), a project of the Earth Island Institute in 1998, to protect public waters from the discharge of toxic pollutants.

In response to Dr. Cohen's unceremonious ouster, a group of Democratic legislators have written a letter to Governor Parnell, complaining of the "corporate abuse" by the cruise lines, and requesting that Dr. Cohen be re-instated. In an article entitled "Lawmakers Call on Parnell to Reinstate Dismissed Scientist," Senator Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, is quoted as stating:

"That is not how we should be doing business . . . When we're talking about positions that deal with  sensitive environmental issues, the protection of Alaska waters, the protection of Alaska lands we should not be letting industry dictate who's on commissions, who's on panels—absolutely, positively not." 

Pristine Waters - Alaska - Gershon Cohen - Cruise Ship PollutionCruise lines are not happy with Dr. Cohen because, as a clean water advocate, he has spent decades advising Alaska about cruise ship water discharge.  In 2006, he was successful in assisting the state of Alaska in adopting an initiative to protect Alaskan waters by requiring the placement of "Ocean Rangers" on cruise ships to monitor discharges.  This program has been successful in preventing cruise lines from dumping pollutants into Alaskan waters and catching them when they do.  There have been 30 violations of Alaska Wastewater Quality Standards by cruise lines in the last six months alone, mostly by Princess Cruises which repeatedly discharged high levels of ammonium and fecal matter into Alaska's pristine waters.  

Getting Dr. Cohen fired from the panel was pay back by the cruise industry. 

The editorials in the Alaskan newspapers unanimously oppose the cruise industry's behind-the-scenes removal of Dr. Cohen.

In an editorial "Our View: Odd Firing," the Anchorage Daily News reports: "It's hard to imagine a more qualified applicant. He stands out among Alaska environmentalists for his thorough knowledge of cruise ship wastewater issues . . . Cohen likely would push for the best available technology, period, and as soon as possible."

We have seen the cruise industry maneuver behind the scenes in the past to try and protect its interests. 

In 2007 when Congress was studying the problem of shipboard sexual assaults, our client Laurie Dishman was invited by a Congressional sub-committee to testify regarding her horrific experience of being strangled and raped on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.  When she reported the crime, the cruise ship doctor gave her a garbage bag and told her to go back to her cabin and collect the evidence herself.   The cruise line thereafter refused to provide her with the name of the rapist or even provide her with copies of her own shipboard medical records. When Royal Caribbean realized that Ms. Dishman had contacted her Congresswoman and was going to be testify, it lobbied certain Congressional members to strike Ms. Dishman from the panel.  It failed.  As a result of Ms. Dishman's testimony, the House of Representatives passed the "Cruise Safety and Security Act of 2009."   

The people of Alaska face a easy choice.  Do you want an expert who has the education, training and experience to protect your pristine waters?    Or will you let the Miami based cruise industry - which is still polluting your waters - dictate the quality of your air and water by making deals behind closed doors?  As concluded by the Anchorage Daily News: 

"One of the primary reasons Alaska cruising may well be the world's cleanest is because activists like Cohen have fought for it. The industry may not welcome him -- but that's no reason for the state to throw him off the panel."

 Cruise Ship Pollution - Alaska

 

We have written about cruise ship dumping, cruise waste discharges and air emissions, and the cruise industry's shenanigans in Alaska in prior articles:   

Cruise Ship Bunker Fuel - "Thick, Tarry Sludge"

New Report Details Cruise Industry's Record of Pollution

Polluting Cruise Industry Files Lawsuit to Avoid Alaskan Tax

The "Alaska" Cruise Association's Lawsuit Against Alaska - Pay Back By Tax-Avoiding Miami Cruise Lines

Carnival Announces Quarterly Profits of $1,100,000,000 - But Pushes Lawsuit Against Alaska Over $50 Tax

Cruise Industry Exaggerates Effect of $50 Alaska Tax and Hides Financial Information

 

Credits:

Dr. Cohen photograph                                   Conservation Institute

Kayak in Alaskan waters photograph            Conservation Institute