The challenges posed by very large cruise ships to historic port cities are not limited to Charleston.
So it is with great excitement that Charleston Communities for Cruise Control (C4) announces joining forces with No Grandi Navi (No Big Boats) in Venice and the Key West Committee for Responsible Tourism. We will now work together as an international coalition to establish appropriate standards for cruise industry activity in historically scaled port cities.
Citizens of Venice and Key West have worked hard to address the negative effects that come with a concentration of massive cruise in their cities. Charleston remains on the watchlists of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the World Monuments Fund as an endangered place due to growing unregulated cruise ship visits, but its citizens, too, are seeking standards to manage impact on scale, congestion and quality of life.
The cruise ship industry is growing rapidly, both in number of cruises and size of cruise ships. Problems with cruise ship operations are in the news regularly. The Fantasy is known to be the oldest and smallest cruise ship in Carnival’s fleet. Assurances that Charleston is a “niche” market that will not grow appreciably will provide little comfort when Carnival retires the Fantasy, replacing it with a larger ship, bringing that much more traffic and upheaval to everyday life in what is already an overburdened historic area.
Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, supported by a large number of residents and visitors, advocates reasonable standards for cruise ships and consideration of alternative locations for a cruise ship terminal—keeping it in line with other types of tourism as well as the everyday life of Charlestonians.
The issue is about balanced co-existence. To achieve it, Charleston must be proactive.
It would be wonderful to have a new Charleston waterfront without nine acres of asphalt parking lot for hundreds of cars and dozens of buses departing/ arriving downtown each cruise day. To have a cruise ship terminal at a location in need of revitalization, rather than an area already congested. To allow ships the ability to use shore power, providing cleaner air for everyone in a 300-plus mile radius. To have the S.C. State Ports Authority, Carnival and the city work with residents to address these issues — not disparage those concerned about their health, well-being and the heritage of Charleston
Asking that these issues be addressed is not just C4, but also the Preservation Society of Charleston, the Coastal Conservation League, Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association and the Charlestown Neighborhood Association, Charleston Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, the Historic Charleston Foundation, the Charleston County Medical Society, the South Carolina Medical Association, The Post and Courier, the Charleston Mercury, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the World Monuments Fund.
Charleston has been named the No. 1 tourist destination for the past three years. We point out that the key word in this high honor is “destination.”
These tourists are people who want to come stay in Charleston, and enjoy and learn about our remarkable area. Like the increasing number of people who call Charleston home, they support thriving businesses, restaurants and hotels.
To maintain that activity and the countless jobs that depend on it, Charleston must maintain intimate scale, uniqueness, walkability, and historic ambiance.
With our new international coalition in place, we hope to encourage other port cities to adopt a Cruise Ship Code of Conduct, such as the one we drafted for Charleston. (Available on our website: www.charlestoncruisecontrol.org/cruise-ship-code-of-conduct/)
Port cities are sharing their history and historic ambiance with cruise passengers. Cruise lines should work with these same cities, not just “use” them as a means of attracting passengers.
We are all in this together. We all should benefit, not just the cruise lines.
Carrie Agnew is the executive director of Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, a South Carolina educational non-profit with members in 27 other states and five countries outside the United States.