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Cruise bus snub drives them mad

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The city’s new cruise ship terminal is starting to cause some rough waves in Red Hook.

In the midst of its first sesason in Brooklyn, Princess Cruises insulted its neighbors by hiring a New Jersey-based motor coach company to speed passengers directly away from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal whenever their ships come in.

The selection of a New Jersey company caused a mini-squall in a neighborhood that had been promised by city officials that the cruise industry would bring tourists and spur economic development.

“They say they want to support local businesses, but they expressed no interest in working with us,” said Christina Rubino, who operates a rival bus company, Trans Express, with her three sisters right across the street from the terminal.

“The terminal has been here for months and we have yet to see one Hawaiian shirt,” she added.

Princess did not invite local companies to bid on the motor coach contract because of a prior offer from Academy Bus, a long-standing provider, according to a spokeswoman for the company.

“Enterprising business people contact us when they see an opportunity,” said Princess spokeswoman Julie Benson.

Originally, the city expected to create 600 jobs with the $56-million terminal, but the number of new jobs turned out to be 300 part-time positions. Local development goals haven’t yet met their original ambition either, though city officials said it was still too early to analyze the port’s economic affect.

Cruise ship passengers, especially the Brooklynites among them, have their own complaints about the lack of Brooklyn spirit on the cruises.

“The only info on Brooklyn they give you on the ship was how to get out of Brooklyn,” said John Manbeck, who not only loves cruising, but is also a former borough historian.

Since April, when the cruise ships started using the pier at the foot of Pioneer Street, their crews, not their customers, have provided the biggest economic boost.

“I eat here twice every day,” said Danny Milham, a terminal worker eating breakfast at the Red Hook Grill, a diner on Van Brunt Street. “The pizza is good. Fairway is good. I like that hot dog place up the street. So what if the passengers all split?”

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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