American Safari reaches agreement with Molokai residents


American Safari Cruises said it reached an understanding with Molokai residents who blocked the Safari Explorer from calling at the island in late November. Visits to the destination will resume in January, said American Safari.

“After working with state and federal authorities and local groups, an amicable agreement has been reached to allow the yacht unimpeded visits to the island on its seven-day adventure cruises,” said the line.

The agreement “is a result of many long hours of spirited discussions about tourism and development on the island with all participants sharing the underlying desire to preserve Molokai's unique character, history and traditions,” American Safari said.

Company CEO Dan Blanchard met with community representatives after the blockade of small boats and surfboards interrupted the Safari Explorer's itinerary.

"We are grateful to the wonderful people of Molokai for their true aloha spirit. We hold tremendous respect for their unwavering desire to preserve their traditional lifestyle for future generations," said Blanchard.

Protesting residents complained that they didn't have a say in Molokai’s tourism policies.

The rural Hawaiian island, which has a very limited tourism infrastructure, is located about 25 miles from Oahu.

This is American Safari's first season operating in Hawaii. The 36-passenger Safari Explorer is scheduled to sail seven-night Hawaii cruises through early May, returning next November for the 2012-13 winter season.

For cruise news and updates, follow Donna Tunney on Twitter @dttravelweekly.

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