ongratulations are in order to the
State of Hawaii and to Norwegian Cruise Line, for they both have
something new to offer, something good. On the Fourth of July,
appropriately, NCL began operating interisland cruises within
Hawaii, using a modern cruise ship flying the American flag.
We've said before that there ought to be room in the travel
industry's product line for interisland Hawaii cruises on modern
ships, without the annoying requirement to include a foreign port.
Finally, with the inaugural Hawaii cruise of the Pride of Aloha,
that product is here.
That's good news, and the news is likely to get better as NCL
brings the Pride of America to the market next year, and the Pride
of Hawaii in 2006.
All of this should be good for NCL, good for Hawaii and good for
cruising. What's missing in all this goodness, however, is the
availability of similar opportunities for other cruise operators in
Hawaii and elsewhere in U.S. waters.
Our antiquated maritime laws impose such ridiculous restrictions
on the modern cruise industry that NCL could get into this market
only with an extraordinary dispensation from the U.S. Congress.
That tells us that a thorough overhaul of our maritime laws and
policy is long overdue.
• • •
t long last, the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA), the airlines and a few big airports
are beginning to test a "registered traveler" program whereby
certain lucky travelers are promised a shorter, hassle-free trip
through the security lines.
It makes great sense for the security system to offer passengers
the option of signing up, sharing some personal background
information and jumping through a few hoops in return for a sort of
"speed pass," and we hope the tests now beginning in Minneapolis
will help everyone work the bugs out of the system.
The airlines are keenly interested in making this work for a
variety of reasons, but the one we hear most often is that it would
mean fewer security hassles for their frequent business travelers.
That's an understandable concern, but we would hope that everybody
involved in this enterprise -- and that includes the airlines, the
passengers and the TSA -- remembers the difference between
passenger service and security.
During the test phase, only certain members of the frequent
flyer programs of the participating airlines will be eligible.
That's OK for the test phase, but if the end result is a permanent
program, it should be a program with no elitist overtones. Any
traveler should be eligible to enroll, regardless of whether he or
she is a frequent traveler, a business traveler or a big
Airlines can pamper their best customers in any way they see
fit, but we believe the obligation of our federal security
screeners is to treat all taxpayers with equal respect and equal