alaska cruise association

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

The so-called "Alaska Cruise Association" (more properly called the Miami Cruise Association) has been caught exaggerating the effects of Alaska’s $50 per person "head tax." 

The Juneau Empire reports in an article by Pat Forgey entitled "Attack On A Tax" that the cruise industry is misleading the public.  Cruise lines claim that cruise prices have dropped as low as $300, and the $50 tax is driving passengers away from cruising to Alaska.

The newspaper reports that cruise passengers actually pay around $2,000 a cruise. Also, most passengers believe that a $50 tax is negligible and has no have an effect on their decision to book a cruise.

The most revealing and disturbing part of the article is that cruise industry spokesman, John Binkley, considers financial information regarding cruises to Alaska to be "proprietary and confidential."  The cruise industry keeps the information secret notwithstanding the fact that both Carnival and Royal Caribbean, which carry 80 percent of the cruise ship passengers to Alaska, are publicly traded companies which are required to report financial data to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This is business as usual for the cruise industry.  Its credibility for facts is historically dubious. Cruise lines are the least transparent industry by far.  As I have reported in previous articles, the non-tax paying and polluting cruise industry’s real motivation to to punish Alaska for its strict pollution regulations

Another newspaper in Alaska reported on the cruise industry’s big lies. The Alaska Daily News calls the $300 cruise ticket a "myth" perpetuated by the cruise industry.  The two comments to the story sum up the truth about the cruise industry’s attack on Alaska:

  • "Multi-national cruise ship hirelings in Alaska beat this big lie about the $50 head tax and its impact on passenger decisions to death and lost all credibility as a result . . .  Alaska’s regulations are a model for other places and this scares the industry."
  • "No surprise here, other than the cruise industry got caught telling tall tales."

 

 

Photo credit:

Polluting cruise ship     www.ecollo.com  

  

Today Carnival issued a press release which reported profits of $1,100,000,000 for the third quarter ending August 31, 2009. The cruise line collected revenues from passengers of over $4,000,000,000 in the last three months.

This announcement of Carnival’s over-a-billion-dollars-in-profits comes two days after the Carnival dominated "Alaska" Cruise Association filed a lawsuit against Alaska over the $50-a-passenger tax.

Four days ago, the environmental group "Friends of the Earth" gave Carnival a "D-" on the cruise line environmental scorecard.

What a week for Carnival!  A failing pollution grade, over $1,000,000,000 in quarterly profits, and a lawsuit initiated in Alaska over a $50 tax.

What is wrong with this picture?      

 

 

The cruise industry has picked a fight with Alaska over the $50 tax designed to protect the state. The lawsuit, which is posted online, indicates that the lawsuit was filed by a trade organization called, interesting enough, the "Alaska Cruise Association."

"Alaskan Cruise Association" – Made in Miami, Florida 

There is nothing remotely "Alaskan" about the "Alaska Cruise Association" (ACA).  The ACA is comprised of nine cruise lines, none of which are based in Alaska.  Six of the cruise lines – Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and Silverseas – are based in Miami or Fort Lauderdale. The other three line, Holland America, Princess, and Windstar Cruises, are all owned by Miami-based Carnival or its subsidiaries.

Even the main lawyer listed on the lawsuit papers, Seattle lawyer Stephen Rummage, is not even admitted to practice law in Alaska. He must petition the court in Alaska for special permission to enter the courthouse in Alaska to argue the case. You can guarantee that the bulk of the ACA’s lawyer’s fees will be paid by money which can be traced back to Miami. 

Revenge is Sweet

The Miami cruise lines do not like to be regulated and are certainly not used to being taxed.  It is like trying to put a leash on a mean dog.  Someone is going to be bitten.  Yet, Alaska has every right to impose reasonable taxes to protect its pristine environment from the out-of-state polluters like Carnival and Royal Caribbean.   

The lawsuit is revenge against Alaska by Carnival and other cruise lines in South Florida.  Unlike Florida and the struggling islands in the Caribbean which for years have rolled over and played dead for the pollution spewing cruise industry, Alaska has enacted a number of measures to protect the state from  the foreign flagged cruise lines’ predatory practices.  Earlier in the year, it was widely reported that the cruise industry was having difficulty convincing the legislators to abolish strict water pollution standards which were approved by Alaskan voters in 2006. 

Like Father, Like Son?

Soon thereafter, Mickey Arison of Carnival began threatening to punish Alaska for the pollution regulations and having the audacity to levy a $50 tax on the passengers who sail on his cruise ships. Any time I hear the word "tax" and "Mickey Arison" in the same sentence, I can’t help but to think about Mickey’s father, Ted Arison.  He collected billions of dollars from tax paying U.S. passengers and lived the good life in Miami but he registered his Miami based cruise line and his cruise ships in Panama to avoid all U.S. taxes.  In 1990, he abandoned Miami, denounced his U.S. citizenship, and returned to Israel with his billions in a ploy to avoid estate and inheritance taxes.

So here we are again, with the younger Arison leading the charge of the Miami consortium of foreign flagged cruise ships pretending to be an "Alaskan" non-profit organization with Alaska’s best interests at heart. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. This is pay back by the Miami cruise lines, and business as usual for the latest tax avoiding Miami billionaire.    

 

Photo credit:

Business Week   –    Photo of Mickey Arison