Ship tour participants enjoyed clear skies in Homer while aboard Holland America’s MS Amsterdam.

Jonathan Bailey, the Amsterdam’s Safety, Environment & Health Officer, shows how waste aboard the ships is recycled, reused or off-loaded to approved shore facilities.

Holland America’s MS Amsterdam in Anchorage. A visit to the bridge is always a highlight of the ship tour.

The Alaska Cruise Association would like to take the opportunity to thank all those who joined us for one of this season’s ship tours.

Since 2007, ACA has given Alaskans the opportunity to see first-hand what goes on aboard a cruise ship. Ship tour participants include Alaska businesspeople, members of various convention and visitors bureaus, legislators and community leaders. While the primary focus of the tour is how cruise lines are meeting (and, in many cases, exceeding) Alaska’s stringent environmental standards, economics are also discussed.

“In Alaska, cruise lines generate $1.35 billion in direct and indirect purchases and wages and support 14,500 jobs. In Anchorage alone, cruise spending totals $102 million. That’s huge. When I heard those numbers, it really drove home just how important the cruise industry is to Anchorage and our state as a whole,” said Wells Fargo Branch Manager Whitney Patton, who attended a ship tour aboard the MS Amsterdam in Anchorage.

Rod Pfleiger, ACA membership and community relations manager, said the response to the ship tours has been overwhelmingly positive. Not only are participants impressed with the on-board passenger amenities – restaurants, nightclubs, swimming pools and spas – they also appreciate seeing the efforts cruise lines make to preserve and protect the environment. From sophisticated engine room equipment designed to reduce or eliminate liquid discharge to separators for galley products and recycling, cruise lines are making good on their promise to go “above and beyond compliance.”

“These ship tours are really an educational tool. When you take Alaskans on board, they see it, hear it and touch it,” Pfleiger said. “Going forward, we never know what’s in front of us – an environmental issue, for instance. Our opponents will show up and say we’re polluting the waters, so we need people who are outside the industry who can testify and say, ‘Look, I’ve seen the on-board technology firsthand. I know the cruise industry is very proactive in its efforts to minimize all types of pollution at sea. You’re basing your opinion on misinformation, not fact.'”

Pfleiger said the cruise lines are eager to show off their state-of-the-art environmental equipment, as well as give ship tour participants a “taste” of cruising. Participants are treated to a lunch on board the ship, the undisputed high point of the tour. A recent lunch in Anchorage consisted of shrimp and bruschetta, grilled tenderloin with potatoes, and molten chocolate cake for dessert.

“The ship tour is just a great experience. I can’t recommend it enough,” Pfleiger said. “It’s good for the cruise lines, it’s good for participants and it’s good for Alaska communities.”

If you or someone you know is interested in a ship tour during the 2011 cruise season, call ACA at (907) 743-4529 or e-mail ACA Public Affairs Specialist Lalanya Downs at [email protected].

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