December 8, 2000
A combination of factors has led Royal Caribbean and sister cruise line Celebrity to announce that the company’s Alaska itineraries will not visit the port of Haines this year. The two lines, which will have five ships there this season -- plus a new rail service that’s available on a limited basis -- say that the canceled call at Haines is due to increased operating costs. The company claims that the decision is an economic one, prompted by rising fuel costs that are hurting all lines. According to the announcement, “ by bypassing Haines and heading straight from Skagway to Juneau, for example, a ship can slow its speed considerably and consume far less fuel.” But is there more to it? Despite calling in at Haines on Alaskan voyages since 1990, the city, just 15 miles south of Skagway, has enjoyed an occasionally uneasy relationship with Royal Caribbean. Two years ago the cruise line admitted that it dumped pollutants into area water. More recently, Haines residents voted to add a four- percent sales tax to shore excursions there and planned to limit cruise ship calls in order to maintain the environment. But a Cruise Critic survey of planned 2001 stops at Haines by cruise lines with a major presence in Alaska -- Princess, Holland America, Crystal and Carnival -- revealed that none include the town on their itineraries. Royal Caribbean, on its part, maintains it will continue to offer Haines-based shore excursions from nearby Skagway.