Thursday, May 11, 2006

In the News: Ships That Pass in the Morn: One Is Huge, the Other Just Scrappy

The cruise ship industry is expanding by leaps and bounds. Literally. Yesterday, the "Freedom of the Seas" oceanliner, the largest passenger vessel in the world with a price tag of over one billion dollars, made its way into New York Harbor and was greeted by the John J. Harvey, a much smaller boat with a much longer history. As the cruise industry continues to grow in our region residents will increasingly see these large ships entering our waters. The impact to our local ecosystem and waterfront communities are yet to be determined, but for now the owners at Royal Caribbean are excited about bringing this great ship to to NY in a celebration of our maritime history writes the NY Times. JB

May 11, 2006

By Aalan Feuer

If, for whatever reason, you had risen early yesterday and loitered at the bottom of Manhattan, you might have seen, among the garbage scows and the Staten Island ferries, a nautical publicity stunt coming in from sea.

The stunt involved two ships or, actually, a ship and a boat: the Freedom of the Seas, a billion-dollar, 160,000-ton behemoth, which is owned by Royal Caribbean and holds the title of the Biggest Cruise Ship in the World; and the John J. Harvey, a snub-nosed, 268-ton fireboat, which is owned by a cast of local mariners and has been chugging through the waterways around New York for more than 70 years.

The idea here was to lend a sheen of history and working-class appeal to the arrival of Leviathan, which was on its maiden voyage. The scrappy Harvey led the gleaming Freedom through the narrows, into the harbor and around the Statue of Liberty, not unlike a hound dog bounding out before a hunting expedition for the king.

"It's a great nod to New York to bring in the biggest ship in the world with all the coolest stuff on board and to fire up literally the Harvey, which very few people know about," said Rene Mack, the publicist who planned the event. "I see it as a salute to New York's maritime history, which is hard to find these days."

It is axiomatic that New York's maritime history is not only hard to find these days, but also has pretty much sunk which is one reason the Harvey's owners took the escort gig. Their boat is old, prone to floods, drinks diesel like an 18-wheeler and survives on a diet of matching grants and deductible donations. Publicity, as much as its hull, keeps the boat afloat.


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