I recently blogged about the boom in cruising and Fox news reported on an interesting issue on Monday titled “Cruise failure leaves Mobile with looming debt.” This article highlights the effect one cruise company can have on a city! Carnival Cruise lines stopped going to this seven year old terminal in Mobile, Alabama last year. They relocated their ship to New Orleans. As a result, the city of Mobile was left with a debt problem. According to the article they are faced with a big economic problem, “How to pay for a more than $20 million passenger terminal that’s now used for dances and weddings rather than tourist embarkations.” For the years that the cruises were coming to this port, the parking charges and other fees by the cruisers helped pay about 2 million per year for this terminal. At the end of the current fiscal year these funds will no longer exist. This is going to leave Mobile with some financial issues. They either need to get a new cruise ship to come to this port or find out another way to use his 65,000 building. The manager Sheila Gurganus is trying to promote the city and this terminal. To pay the utility bills she is currently renting out this building. Starting October 1 the bill will go to the city. According to the spokeswoman for the city, “Barbara Drummond, said officials aren’t sure how to pay the mortgage on the 7-year-old terminal when the bill starts going to the city on Oct. 1.” They are trying to get a cruise company to come back to Mobile. According to the article if this fails, an additional 1 cent sales tax may be necessary. The problem Mobile faces according to Carolyn Brown, a cruise industry watcher, is “inadequate marketing…The domestic cruise industry is getting more competitive as companies relocate ships overseas, and Mobile has not done enough to promote itself as a potential home port or destination”.
One thing for sure cruise ship companies are welcomed by most places because of the big bucks they bring to the economy. This is why the industry is so powerful in Congress. It is hard to get laws passed to hold the industry more accountable because of the fear the industry will place their operations overseas and deny the local United States ports the huge economic benefits the cruise lines bring to the ports they utilize. In fact, when I spoke in the United States Congress about the need for safety reforms in the cruise ship industry, addressing crimes and disappearances on cruise ships, a Florida congressman attacked me by saying the cruise line industry brought a lot of money to the state of Florida. I guess he was suggesting they have friends in Congress, leave them alone. However the poor crewmembers that are overworked and underpaid on the cruise ships need a friend in Congress, not an enemy. Passengers who are injured on a cruise ship, and the family members who have lost a loved one a cruise ship, need a friend in Congress. Instead, the cruise ship companies continue to enjoy very favorable laws, and continue to whittle down the rights of passengers and crewmembers with a stroke of a pen by contracting out of liability for all than can get away with.
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