The Great Debate: Readers Respond to Proposed Alaska Tax

August 23, 2006
Alaskans voted yesterday on the proposed "cruise ship tax" -- and e-mail is pouring in with reactions on both sides of the fence. Read on to see what Cruise Critic readers have to say.

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Alaska or Bust
"Cruise line tourists spend most of their money with the cruise lines and put a large burden on Alaska. It's only fair to levy a small charge for compensation. Let the cruise lines lower their fares, they're making plenty. Take a look at their facilities. And their hired help is mostly non-resident." --George Hanson

"Anyone who says that a $50 tax will stop them from cruising Alaska doesn't deserve to go there. I have taken a half dozen Alaska cruises and everyone I meet wants the state to look out for the environment so that our kids and grandkids will have the same experience. Nobody goes there to see industrial development. Bottom line -- the money would go to protect the environment." --steveconn

"Get real people. $50 in the grand scheme of things is not that big of a deal." --Chris

"It would not deter me at all ... have been to Alaska MANY times, and find its beauty very special. I feel that the tax is fair, as too many people are spoiling this magnificent state. If it cuts down on some people all well and good...." --Judy

"We loved Alaska, a mere $100 for us to cruise Alaska is nothing! The native Alaskans open up their homes, hearts and lands to us, the visitors. They deserve the extra tax to 'fix things up' and make the ports even better. We will continue to go to Alaska ... we will do excursions in Alaska because that is what Alaska is about, viewing her wondrous beauty." --jrmende63

Hell No, We Won't Go
"A cruise to Alaska is already expensive enough. If Alaska does this tax what's to stop other states from doing it also? That's the last thing we need is for Florida to put a tax on cruising passengers. $50 is a lot of money; if it was like $5 or something, which goes to conserving the wildlife and environment, then I could see it -- but not $50. I'd rather spend my money in the Caribbean." --GrandGT7

"I would definitely go to another destination! Paying an extra charge on top of taxes and charges already added in is appalling." --Marcia

"I would stop cruising to Alaska. I have been there five times because the glaciers are so beautiful. I feel we already pay port charges. If they do this and win, how many other ports will follow? Also, it has been my understanding the ports welcome ships for the revenue they receive. This will also hurt Vancouver because of travelers flying in for cruises, also the hotels that bring in revenue." --Rosemary

"Some groups in Alaska seem to have a real problem with cruisers visiting there at all. I don't think they have the real idea what irritating the cruising public will cause with loss of revenues. Although Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, there are similar experiences to be had on land all over the western United States. If their arrogant attitude is 'Make 'em pay to visit our great land,' I'm afraid they may find less and less visitors willing to accommodate their pay at the gate mentality. There are hundreds of other places to cruise to that the locals are happy to have all visit and leave their money. Nuts to you Alaska...." --EP Allen

"After my already booked Alaskan cruise in June I may just head over to Canada/New England. It's cheaper to fly to Boston or New York, and no extra taxes! PLUS, I haven't sailed there yet! :)" --DPetisca

"This is enough to dissuade us from going. After all, since Alaska is not the Caribbean, it should try to attract tourists instead of ripping them off. What a shame!" --cdnmike

"If it were to go into effect, I would not return to Alaska. This is just another example of state residents trying to get those from 'out of town' to pay for expenses the Alaska residents would rather not fund themselves. And I think the folks from Alaska may be over estimating people's willingness to pay to see their scenic beauty. Northwest Canada has many beautiful sights that rival those in Alaska, and to the best of my knowledge are not directly taxing visitors based on their means of travel." --Steve Berenson

"I don't like to be gouged, the tax is out of line. Sorry, my pockets aren't that deep. There are lots of places to cruise -- the Caribbean comes to mind." --Jo

"With the high cost for airfare and this added tax, I would not plan a cruse to Alaska. The state is taking in lots of oil money and some should be used for the port upgrades." --William

"There are too many cruise ships in Alaska now and it is already very expensive. I would rather go somewhere else." --Janicepot

I'll Go, But...
"It won't keep me from cruising to Alaska, but it again shows the greed of that oil-rich state. Residents already receive yearly oil revenues for every man, woman and child. It's a ridiculous tax...." --SoCalGal

"My husband and I have been to Alaska four times and would like to go a fifth time but I will not be anxious to go with this new tax. We love Alaska and always try to make some sort of purchase on shore and eat at a shore restaurant or two. We will not do that again. The Alaskan government and people will have to be happy with dividing up our $100 tax fee among the citizens and forgetting the extra effort we make to support the economy. It's their choice ... and it's our choice." --Ronne

"My wife and I have cruised to Alaska twice and have another cruise planned for next year. We have always taken time to enjoy the ports, their shops, restaurants and bars. If this tax is imposed we will still travel to Alaska but I would be less interested in visiting the local establishments. I can still enjoy the beauty of Alaska from the ship and eat the food that I have already paid for." --Thomas

"I am a German who did already 16 cruises, but I've never been to Alaska. But I think that (if the tax is included in the cruise fare already) this would not influence my decision. If I would have to pay it individually when going ashore, I think, I would then stay onboard in most places! Maybe you are also interested to know that there are similar plans for a cruise tax in Naples/Capri (Italy) and Venice (Italy), too. I read this in our German newspaper yesterday." --Ulf Schmidt

"Jim and I are planning a cruise to Alaska in July and believe we will already pay more for this cruise than cruises we have taken to other areas. Alaska is a beautiful state, and cruise passengers do pay premium for shopping on shore, however, we will not shop on shore if the extra tax passes because Alaska will make enough in the tax to cover any loss of business revenue generated from shoppers. We will spend our money onboard for this cruise." --Jim & Char

"If the cruise price is right, we'd go but not spend a penny in Alaska, telling locals why I don't buy their products." --Michel

"It's easy to have an initial reaction of 'damn them,' or 'I'll show THEM' but put it in perspective; if you spent a $1,000 on a ticket for a cruise (we spent much more as we're doing a cruisetour) the new tax would amount to 5 percent. How many folks don't bat an eye at a multi-hundred dollar bar tab? Drop a couple hundred (and lose it) in the casinos onboard? Do I LIKE the tax? No. It's just one more way to gobble a bit more out of my pocket. Am I willing to deal with it, if it passes? I say an additional $50 to see our 49th the one time I'm likely to make it and certainly the only time my mother plans to is a small price. At least I'll have seen it while there are still glaciers, and with the recent events with the pipeline shutdown and the loss of those revenues can you expect them to really not look at alternative ways to bring money into the state?" millersdad

"My wife and I have been to Alaska four times and have always found a way to spend some money. If we ever go back we will just stay on the ship and enjoy the views." --Jim

"I have cruised twice to Alaska, two different itineraries and different cruise lines, have often recommended it enthusiastically to others, particularly to families. But I would be more cautious if the tax is enacted, because for a family the head tax will really add up. And I myself, out of resentment, would try to spend that much less on shore in terms of shopping. I probably would not spend less on shore excursions." --Donna

"We will go, but we will curtail our spending on land." --Mary

"My wife and I have not yet been to Alaska, so we would probably still go, even with the increased tax. However, we would strongly consider whether or not we wanted to spend anything further on shore. I would agree with another gentleman's e-mail; the beauty of Alaska is in the scenery, why spend money on trinkets? Most people only have so much money for a given vacation. If the money goes for taxes, less is available for other things. The size of the tax also makes me wonder if they will not be killing the golden goose." --Mobrien11

"We'll be taking our third cruise to Alaska next year. If the tax is imposed, we'll make a point of spending less in the shops and restaurants, and also make sure that these establishments know why. The prices for tours are outrageous anyway because tour guides have to make all their profits during the summer. We live in Texas, I wonder how the folks from Alaska would feel if they had to dish out $50 a head for every person coming down to enjoy Texas winter weather? Taxes can go both ways." --Dave and Elaine

"I would pay the extra, if it really goes to environmental, and port related expenses and improvements, but my bet is it won't. In our state, video lottery was voted in with the condition that it would be in a separate fund and to help education. It is now in the general fund and we had to go to the State Supreme Court to get it back on the ballot to try and get rid of it...." --Suefalls

"I would not complain as long as the ports of call were to visibly be improved and maintained." --Thomas

What do you think about taxing Alaska cruise goers?

--By Melissa Baldwin, Associate Editor