Alaska and the Cruise Industry Go to Court

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  09.29.09 | 2:12 PM ET

With several major cruise lines headed into the courtroom to challenge Alaska’s $50-per-cruise-passenger “head tax,” Rob Lovitt takes a broader look at the uneasy relationship between the cruise industry and the state. Here’s his take on a return visit to Skagway after a 20-year absence:

I was gobsmacked by the changes. Instead of one ship, there were three, each of which probably carried 2,000-2,500 passengers. With 6,000-plus cruisers unloading simultaneously, Broadway was more or less impassable, and while the Sweet Tooth and Red Onion were still there, they were joined by the likes of Del Sol, Tanzanite International and other absurdly out-of-place outposts of Caribbean kitsch.

And it’s not just Skagway. A recent editorial in the Juneau Empire bemoaned the “yuck factor” created by the dozens of jewelry stores and trinket shops along the city’s main tourist drag. Written, surprisingly enough, by a local economic development booster, the piece didn’t single out the cruise industry, but it doesn’t take an advanced degree in tourism management to realize that cruise ships and curio shops go together like buffet lines and bulging waistlines.


Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.


5 Comments for Alaska and the Cruise Industry Go to Court

Megan Hill 09.29.09 | 3:05 PM ET

Blah, cruises disgust me for the reasons above. Skagway and other Alaskan villages definitely lose something when cruise ships plow into their harbors and Tanzanite stores open in the historic buildings. Yuck, indeed.

Jennifer 09.29.09 | 3:23 PM ET

I agree!  I don’t think you could pay me to go on a cruise like this!  For all of the economic gains that cruises bring to these towns, they are paying for it with much of their “soul”!  How can anyone go on a cruise like this and think they are seeing the “real” Alaska?  Fly (or drive) in, rent a car and get out of towns like this if you want the real deal!

Joe Seellar 09.29.09 | 4:29 PM ET

Yeah, keep up the moaning, when everything has melted and there’s no reason for the cruise ships to go there you’ll have practice for moaning about them leaving

Lindsey 09.29.09 | 7:15 PM ET

Canít resist piping in my two cents on this one! I lived in Skagway last year, and the cruise ship industry is a bitter sweet venture for any place. But history repeats itself and the town of Skagway, like many Alaskan towns wouldnít exist if not for the draw of riches. In the 1800ís millions of people flocked to the last frontier eager to dig up creeks and claim their fortune. These days, on different boats, they flock in search of the riches of branded T-shirts and knickknacks that prove they were there.  In reality, the rush parallels the same level, be it 1898 or 2009.

cruise tips 10.06.09 | 12:16 PM ET

Most times itís more comfortable to allow your cruise line to organize your air traveling as well. This way you will be sure to arrive on time for the cruise embarkation procedures. Moreover any possible flight delays or cancellations will be handled by the cruise line once it takes responsibility for your airfare.

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