HONOLULU -- Cruising's megaships face an uncertain future in Kauai.
Later this summer, Hawaii's harbor pilots will decide if the
megas can be safely steered into Nawiliwili Harbor, according to
Dave Lyman, president of the Hawaii Pilots Association.
At the invitation of several cruise lines (Carnival, Celebrity
and Royal Caribbean) the state's nine harbor pilots are practicing
guiding some of the large ships in Alaska to see if they will be
able to steer them into Nawiliwili in the fall, when the big ships
are scheduled to call on Kauai.
The pilots are also practicing on Norwegian Cruise Line
simulators in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Nawiliwili's harbor pilots have twice turned away Celebrity
Cruises' 965-foot-long, 91,000-ton Infinity during inclement
weather because of the ship's size and the pilots' unfamiliarity
with the ship's technology. According to the pilots, they would
have guided in a smaller ship in similar weather conditions.
"The problem on Kauai is the harbor and the ships," said Lyman.
"These new ships are extremely long and extremely tall, and the
winds at Nawiliwili can be capricious and strong."
Lyman said the height of the megaships allows more area for the
wind to catch on and push a ship in the wrong direction.
"The clearances in that harbor right now are intolerable for
anything but the best of conditions" for the large ships, Lyman
"We're the ones who keep the ships off the rocks, and if there's
a big ship that can't fit into a tiny harbor, then we won't do it,"
Lyman said the harbor pilots won't make a determination whether
they will attempt to land the ships in Kauai until after the end of
the Alaska cruise season.
Two other large ships that are scheduled to call on Kauai in the
fall are Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas, at 962 feet and
90,060 tons, and Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Spirit at 963 feet
and 88,500 tons.
Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Star, which is 965 feet long
and 91,000 tons, is set to begin making interisland cruises in the
state, including Kauai, in mid-December.
All four ships are promoting calls at Kauai although the pilots
have not decided whether they will attempt to land the ships.
A spokeswoman for Norwegian said the company "is happy the
pilots have accepted the invitation to sail on the ships in Alaska,
and we are confident that we will be taking our guests to
Tom Fujikawa, Hawaii Harbors Division administrator, said, "If
the cruise companies are confident that the ships can be brought in
safely, then it's only fair that the pilots give it a try.