VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Prominent ocean environmentalist
Jean-Michel Cousteau called on the cruise industry to better
educate its customers on how to enjoy fragile seaways and
"Pollution and coastal development are destroying the diversity
of our marine life at an alarming rate," Cousteau said at the
annual Ship to Shore conference here. "We are poisoning our
planet's very life blood."
Cousteau's visit to the Alaska-oriented tourism gathering, which
drew agents from throughout the U.S. and Canada, was arranged as a
part of the United Nations' International Year of the Ocean.
"It is very important to educate tourists," Cousteau said.
"Educated tourists enjoy their visits more, and they do the right
Cousteau, following in the footsteps of his father, Jacques
Cousteau, who died a year ago, called on all segments of the
tourism field, including cruise lines, to develop guidelines for
their customers, advising them on how to care for the ecology.
Moderating a later panel discussion, Rick James, Princess
Cruises' senior vice president of marketing and corporate
communications and the current chairman of Cruise Lines
International Association, defended his industry's contribution to
"I think the industry fully understands its responsibilities to
the oceans," James said. "This is where we make our living. We all
have become cognizant [of] those responsibilities, and I'm very
pleased to see how the industry has moved forward on [environmental
Nevertheless, James acknowledged that more could be done and
pledged to carry Cousteau's comments back to his colleagues in
"Jean-Michel's words were not lost on us," James said. "I have a
13-year-old son, and it's important to me that, in the years ahead,
he can go cruising and enjoy the experience that I have
On another topic, when asked by an agent why Alaska per diems,
even allowing for discounts, were invariably higher than in, say,
the Caribbean, James said that was a function of "supply and demand
and the short Alaska season."
Another panelist, Kirk Lanterman, the chairman and chief
executive officer of Holland America-Westours, noted that, in
Alaska, ships were required to carry pilots on board at all times
-- at a cost of $4,000 to $5,000 a day -- whereas elsewhere pilots
generally were required only for a short time when entering and
And he noted that, in many places in Alaska, cruise lines were
investing in infrastructure commitments that needed funding -- as
in the case, he said, of the dock Princess built for its ships in
The city liked the concept so much, according to Lanterman, that
it then assessed other cruise lines to fund an upgrade of other
dock facilities. Then, too, he pointed out, fuel is more expensive
in Alaska than elsewhere because of local taxes.