MIAMI — Calling Alaska’s cruise regulatory environment the "most burdensome and costly" in the world, Holland America Line’s CEO issued a strong condemnation of those policies in front of the state’s governor on Tuesday.
Stein Kruse, HAL's CEO, made the remarks during the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention, with Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell in the audience.
"We understand that regulation is necessary, but we are concerned about overzealous regulation in Alaska," said Kruse, who heads of one of the two biggest cruise line operators in Alaska. "Our assets are movable and we are good at moving our ships if conditons necessitate."
Parnell was the first sitting governor to attend Seatrade.
Kruse explained that the ballot initiative that imparted a host of new taxes and regulations on the cruise industry beginning in 2007 "confused the voters" of Alaska, who did not realize how much it would impact state tourism, he said.
Noting that cruise passenger counts will be down 17% this year, Kruse said that decline "hurts businesses in Alaska."
"That 17% decline doesn’t mean the ships aren’t operating full," he added. "They are somewhere else."
Kruse said that the industry supports fair and logical regulation, and that it is not opposed to paying "rational taxes and fees to enhance the passenger experience."
He also pointed to the huge investment that HAL has made in Alaska on trains, hotels, and riverboats and the thousands of Alaskans the company employs.
"It is sad to see this," Kruse added. "We had a great partnership with Alaska."