USA Today Travel reports several groups that have formed in order to file a lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines, who has moved one of their cruise ships to the historic city on a year around basis. The groups that have formed together to pursue the lawsuit include the Charleston area's Coastal Conservation League, Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, as well as other local groups. The complaints focus on the problems of cruise ship noise, size and pollution.
Regarding the lawsuit which will attempt to make Carnival subject to city and state regulations governing pollution, Stephen Gates from the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association stated: "until that compliance is in place the cruise ship activity probably ought not to be taking place." The Carnival Cruise Line's ship, Fantasy, sails out of Charleston weekly. It is based there year around. The main complaints are that the cruise ship is causing air and water pollution in the city, as well as increasing traffic congestion. The main result of all of this is that it is damaging Charleston's reputation as a historical city, free from these types of issues that are more present in the big cities.
At the same time this lawsuit is being filed, the South Carolina Port Authority is going forward with a plan it has for a new cruise ship terminal in Charleston that will handle larger ships which can carry up to 3,500 passengers at a time.
The port officials of South Carolina have quickly dismissed the concerns, and have written to the city's Mayor that any claim that Charleston will be "overrun with cruise ships without appropriate regulation" is nothing but "sensationalism... not borne out by any reasonable and factual assessment of the size of the Charleston cruise market."
The officials also have sharp criticism for any claims that the cruise ships are bringing people to Charleston that are not the type of people that are welcome in Charleston. The port officials stated: "the cruise passengers that chose to be tourists are representatives of the general tourist population in Charleston."
It appears the debate will continue in Charleston as to the benefits/costs of the cruise ship presence in Charleston. It has been my experience that the cruise ship company is very powerful, and based on their lobbyists and the money they bring to a particular state or city, they end up doing pretty much what they want to do, and groups such as this usually have very little success in stopping them.