How Badly Are Cruise Ships Ruining Historic Ports?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

The claims against large cruise ships causing environmental damage have been longstanding. From claims by Italian environmentalists that cruise vessels are damaging the foundations of the lagoon city, Venice, to issues here in the United States concerning pollution through wastewater emissions, the cruise industry has its hands full of complaints, and it seems as though it will not be addressing any of them any time soon.

But while cruise giants and protestors have duked it out for numerous years, every argument always has some truth at its core. And with so many activists fighting to preserve their homes against the damage large vessels can cause, it is only natural that our cruise ship attorneys here at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A. would wonder exactly how much damage cruise ships are causing historic ports.

The debate on the pros and cons of the cruise industry is one of the oldest battles in history. Arguments over the economic benefits of the industry over the impacts on congestion and pollution have been heard time and time again, but are they truly valid?

This week in Charleston, South Carolina, a port that has been home to many cruise ship debates in recent times, will host an international conference on the issue of whether vessels are in fact causing more harm than good to the ports they call on. The event, called “Harboring Tourism: A Symposium on Cruise Ships in Historic Port Communities,” will begin on Wednesday and will tackle commonly discussed topics including pollution, sea traffic and economic matters.

“Our interest is to raise the dialogue and to really understand how do historic ports manage cruise tourism, how do they do that effectively and what are some of the challenges they face,” said Erica Avrami, research and education director for the World Monuments Fund and one of the sponsors of the event.

The three-day conference is also sponsored by the Preservation Society of Charleston and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Charleston, which has been home to seasonal cruise visits, became a year-round embarkation point in 2010, when Carnival Cruise Lines permanently home ported its 2,056-passenger ship, the Fantasy, in the city.

As the industry grows in Charleston, the South Carolina State Ports Authority has already planned to keep up with the economic gains that cruise travel can bring by building a $35 million cruise terminal. However, the plans for the terminal have brought lawsuits in state and federal courts by plaintiffs who are concerned that pollution and congestion will do nothing but threaten Charleston’s historic legacy.

Similar concerns about the cruise industry also have been raised in Venice, where critics worry about cruise ship accidents similar to the Costa Concordia capsizing, air and water pollution.

But while it is inarguable that the cruise industry can bring in much needed revenue for port cities, the issues surrounding cruise ship safety and pollution simply cannot be ignored. Between harmful emissions and lax safety standards, something needs to be done within the industry to fix the issues that have been harming not only the environment, but leading to accidents and injuries for passengers and crewmembers as well.

Photo Credits:

Top right: Charleston, S.C. – cruisediva.blogspot.com
Bottom left: Venice, Italy – marsecreview.com