(Juneau Empire file photo)

Letter: Gloomy predictions for ship-free days are a misleading scare tactic

“What? Only one day a week ship-free? Can’t we have Sundays too?” “How about four days a week ship-free?” We signature gatherers are hearing those comments frequently from community members eager to sign the petitions to get the Ship-free Saturdays Initiative on the October municipal ballot.

Despite the doom, gloom and disaster our neighbors at Protect Juneau’s Future are predicting when this initiative passes, many in our community think one quiet day, one out of seven, is an excellent idea. Just one day during the summer to work in our gardens without the constant din of helicopters; to hike with our families to Nugget Falls; to fish from our skiffs in Auke Bay without 77 whale watching boats zipping by; to visit stores and restaurants downtown; and to hold community events on our downtown waterfront.

Ship-free Saturdays would bring the total cruise ship passenger count down to about 1.5 million, based upon this year’s estimated count of 1.7 million. This 1.5 million is only 150,000 fewer than in 2023 and 170,000 more than 2019. Is this a “dramatic change;” “a big gamble;” “an awful impact[s];” a crushing blow to our “long-term prosperity?” Will 1.5 million passengers make Juneau an unviable place to live and do business, as Protect Juneau’s Future supporters lament in their Juneau Empire May 11 op-ed?

I agree with the authors of the May 11 op-ed that we should take emotion out of the debate. I would suggest that the authors are the ones getting a bit emotional with their angst-ladened rhetoric. I love Juneau also, for the 33 years I have lived here. Most of all, I love our sense of community and our quality of life; yet from April through October, those values are severely diminished by cruise ship overtourism. Let’s give all of us, including tourism employees and the Auke Bay whales, one day a week to enjoy in peace.

Susan Schrader