It's not enough to bring your gleaming and graceful ships into the harbor and to send your passengers off to the tour guides and the shops and the restaurants with their credit cards and their wads of cash. It used to be enough, but not anymore, not in Alaska.

For the cruise industry, the entire state of Alaska has become something like an environmental first baseman, just waiting to catch the runner with his foot off the bag. Tag! You're outta here.

Surprise inspections in Juneau earlier this month revealed that the smoke emissions of four cruise ships may have violated clean air standards.

The cruise industry claims to have made significant progress in recent years in meeting its environmental responsibilities. Well and good.

But Alaska, it seems to us, is one place where the cruise lines can't afford too many more outs. The local fans are already starting to boo.

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Connect the dots

Even in a "mature" industry like air transportation, there are new products all the time.

Just recently, Vanguard Airlines laid plans to start nonstop service between Kansas City and New Orleans. If you're in Kansas City today and you need to fly to New Orleans, you can't go nonstop. You can connect in Dallas, St. Louis, Memphis or Atlanta. Hubs.

We also heard from Southwest Airlines a few days ago. One of Southwest's new services, when it comes to Buffalo in October, will be a nonstop to Phoenix. If you're in Buffalo today and you need to fly to Phoenix, you can't go nonstop. You can connect in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland or Chicago. More hubs.

Hubs are fine, but, let's face it, nothing beats a nonstop. Hubs lose a few passengers every time an airline like Vanguard or Southwest connects the dots, and that's probably a good thing. It keeps them loose.

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