Juneau officials reject Norwegian’s free cruise offer

JUNEAU, Alaska: Juneau officials have rejected an offer by Norwegian Cruise Line to send the city manager and mayor on a free cruise.
The Juneau Assembly voted to turn down the invitation, and it rejected an amendment to have the city pay for the cruise, KTOO Public Media in Juneau reported.
The cruise line invited leaders from port communities along the West Coast in order to bring attention to the Norwegian Joy’s first US voyage next month, according to the city.
The ship is traveling from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Los Angeles. It will be stopping at Alaska destinations later this year.

The cruise line declined to say what other leaders were invited on the four-day trip to California.
City Manager Rorie Watt said the trip could have provided an opportunity for him and Mayor Beth Weldon to learn how other communities are dealing with cruise tourism growth.
“I think there is value that could be gained, and the value would outweigh the negatives, although I’m not going to push you very hard on this,” Watt said.
The cruise offer could have been an attempt to influence city officials, assembly members Rob Edwardson and Loren Jones said. City officials can find other ways to learn more about the industry, Jones said.

“It would be just as easy, I think, to have an all-day seminar when it’s docked all day in Ketchikan or it’s docked all day in Juneau and invite all those people,” Jones said.
Juneau rules also restrict officials from accepting gifts of $50 or more. The cruise line did offer to charge $99 for the trip to those who couldn’t accept it for free, the city said.

Juneau was engaged in a lawsuit with the cruise industry over the use of cruise ship passenger fees. A federal court decision last year restricted the use of the fees. Juneau officials have not announced if they will appeal the ruling.
Assembly member Wade Bryson said the trip could have been a step forward.
“To put our officials onto an inaugural trip lets them know we don’t have hard feelings,” Bryson said. AP

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