This 2013 photo shows Juneau’s Capitol Disposal Landfill. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

This 2013 photo shows Juneau’s Capitol Disposal Landfill. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: Cruise line debate is garbage

  • Wednesday, June 2, 2021 5:23pm
  • Opinion

By Stuart Hallam

A metaphor for the cruise lines view of Juneau?

In 2016, they dumped just under 650,000 pounds of garbage in Juneau.

In 2019….. over 3 million pounds of trash dumped here.

The cruise lines show us how they feel about us, be it garbage at our very limited landfill, or dumping in our waters We are not talking food scraps, “This includes the usual suspects as well as jugs and barrels previously containing chemicals, 100’s of mattresses, bedding, 200 chairs in September, furniture, slot machines, worn ship line and much more.”

What can we learn form Key West? Venice, Bruges, Dubrovnik, Amsterdam, Dublin, Santorini, Barcelona and others? Two very real lessons: Juneau is not alone in being run over by a cruise ship industry that has little care for the ports it visits, and less is more for the destination.

What do the cruise lines think of us, I remind you of their arguments over a $5 head tax: people would stop coming. Segue to 2016 with vastly increased day trippers to Juneau. Then cruise lines sue the CBJ. Why? How the head tax money was spent: to the benefit of their passengers. Why? They wanted it spent purely for the lines benefit, including vast sums to improve privately owned docks.

When a party believes in their position, they do not ignore verifiable facts or science, let alone offer obfuscations to support said position. Hearing those who support JCAN referred to as “anti-tourism” reminds me of an abuser saying “I love you- why do you make me hit you?”

With anunrestrained cruise ship industry, it is squandering quality of life for what? Juneau needs balance. Like those cities noted above, the level of cruise ship passenger traffic is simply too much.

Reasonable minds can honestly disagree. I have benefitted greatly from tourism to Juneau. Like those at JCAN, I am an ardent supporter of tourism, just as I am a supporter of fishing and resource extraction. What is consistent with all of the above is responsible approaches to all.

While benefiting greatly from tourism, I noted years ago that the balance had been lost. Both our quality of life, and also for the visitors. The single greatest reason for my no longer being involved in the industry concerns the negative effects that having too many visitors has on the visitors. Day after day of breaking hearts, telling people that the trips they dreamed of are not available to them, was simply a bridge too far for me.

The cruise lines do not ave the passenger’s best interest in mind anymore than they have ours. Debatable?

Many ships stop in Juneau for half a day, yet are kept in “Icy Straight” for a full day?

The disingenuous arguments over the $5 head tax?

The lawsuit over how those funds were spent. To benefit the cruise ship companies, not the passengers. (A new incinerator would be beneficial per escalation of cruise ship dumping.)

When is the last time you were at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center?

The patronizing My Turn “Cruise Initiatives Risk Future of Juneau Businesses,” reinforces the need for JCAN.

Taking the arguments to logical extremes, we should cut down every tree in the Tongass, support legalized prostitution and expand the recreational drug industry exponentially.

The implied threat that cruise ships would pass Juneau by if we take action? I call out the authors integrity on that one. Where are they going to make up that revenue? What towns have the offerings to line their pockets that Juneau has?

I ask the writer — of the small businesses you refer to, how many are locally owned compared to those halcyon days of the 1990s? How many cruise ship associated jobs pay a living wage? How many dollars go to Juneau owned businesses? How many dollars stay in town? Feel free to compare to the 1990s.

Enough of the bad faith arguments that Juneauites who want balance returned to tourism are anti-tourism. Ditto the preaching of economic doom unless we allow the cruise lines to do as they please, that they will stop coming here.

• Stuart Hallam as resided in Juneau since 1994. Hallam has worked in tourism, from guiding, to bus driving, to running a brokerage. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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