HONOLULU -- Norwegian Cruise Line's addition of a year-round ship
to Hawaii waters next year could be the last if the state does not
add more port space, according to public and private cruise
With the arrival of the 1,960-passenger SuperStar Leo on Dec.
16, 2001, Hawaii's harbors will be packed to near capacity, say
"We have unlimited potential here as a cruise destination, but
it's limited by the facilities," said Bill Thayer, president of
Waldron Steamship in Honolulu.
"We are already at the point where we could be turning people
away because we simply don't have the parking spaces for cruise
SuperStar Leo will transfer to NCL from the fleet of Star
Cruises, NCL's Singapore-based parent.
The ship will be renamed and join two other Hawaii-based cruise
ships offering regular sailings: United States Lines' Patriot and
American Hawaii Cruises' Independence.
Both lines are owned by U.S.-flag operator American Classic
Voyages. U.S. Lines also is building two 1,900-passenger ships for
year-round Hawaii cruises in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
Just bringing NCL to Hawaii was a difficult task because of port
scheduling conflicts between cargo ships, the Patriot and
Independence and the many repositioning cruises that call in Hawaii
during the year, said Thayer and Tom Fujikawa, the administrator
for the state of Hawaii's Harbor Division.
"We are getting congested and we are now getting conflicts
because of scheduling at our piers," said Fujikawa. "Norwegian is
great for Hawaii, but it causes us concern about the scheduling
"For the foreseeable future we are OK, but if there was a huge
influx, we might have to turn them away."
The Honolulu harbor can accommodate three large ships at a time,
but it does not have a passenger terminal. Fujikawa said the
harbors divisions will ask the legislature for $20 million to build
a new terminal by 2003.
Thayer said piers at Hilo on the Big Island and Nawiliwili on
Kauai only can take one large cruise ship at a time.
Fujikawa said there are projects waiting for funding at the
piers in Hilo and Nawiliwili but those projects are subject to the
whims of the legislature.
There is space for cruise ships in Kona on the Big Island, but
it too is a place where passengers must take a tender to shore.
On Maui, cruise ships can use the cargo terminal in Kahului or
anchor outside Lahaina. Lahaina needs a wider channel and a
dedicated tendering port, said Thayer.
Thayer said even the improvements for Hawaii's piers that are
planned and heading for the legislature may not be enough for
"The facilities we are planning could easily be eclipsed in the
future," said Thayer. "When United States Lines brings its third
ship in 2003, that will be the critical time."