Hawaii cruise passenger calls rise during fourth quarter

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HONOLULU -- The number of cruisers visiting Hawaii on foreign-flag cruise ships jumped by 58% last fall and is expected to grow 165% by 2003.

"Hawaii has experienced exceptional growth in the cruise industry in the last few years," said Seiji Naya, director of the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT).

"It is very encouraging that despite the events of Sept. 11, we experienced strong growth in the number of cruise passengers over the last several months."

Port calls in Hawaii are expected to grow from 237 in 2001 to 538 in 2002 and 580 in 2003. Above, a musical group serenades cruise passengers at the Big Island's port in Kailua-Kona. According to the DBEDT, the number of passengers on foreign cruise ships visiting Hawaii from September through November 2001 was 41,310 -- a 58% increase compared with the 25,149 visitors who came during the same period in 2000.

That does not include the approximately 2,000 weekly passengers now coming to board Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Star, which is running weekly interisland cruises here.

In a report -- called the Hawaii Cruise Industry 2001 Report -- presented to a meeting of the Hawaii Tourism Authority recently, the North West CruiseShip Association said cruise passengers coming to Hawaii will jump from 160,000 in 2001 to 250,000 in 2002 and 265,000 in 2003.

Port calls in Hawaii will grow from 237 in 2001 to 538 in 2002 and 580 in 2003.

The new Norwegian Star cruises have changed everything here, according to John Hansen, North West CruiseShip Association president.

"The kind of calls that existed here in the 1990s would be at the beginning of the Alaska season, as ships would stop in Hawaii on their way there, and the same thing would happen at the end of the Alaska season," he said.

Although the number of port calls and passengers are growing, Hawaii still will have only about 2.5% of the world market share -- a figure that is just a grain of sand compared with the 44.5% market share that the Caribbean and the Bahamas enjoy, according to the report.

Other interesting facts in the Hawaii Cruise Industry Report include: Eighty-five percent of Hawaii's cruise passengers are from the mainland, 56% of Hawaii cruisers are first-time visitors, 62% of cruisers are from the East Coast and 22% are from the West Coast.

"As you can see, more than 60% of the cruise visitors are from the East," said Hansen. "That's important because people from the East Coast tend to stay longer and are more inclined to come back."

Cruise ship passengers in Hawaii stay an average of 2.4 nights pre- or post-cruise.

What's more, the cruise industry is bringing money and marketing muscle to the state, the report said.

For example, in 2002, port fees paid to the state amounted to $4.4 million per year, the economic impact of cruises in the state will be about $91 million and the cruise industry will spend about $9 million marketing cruises in Hawaii.

Also in 2002, according to the report, there will be 18 ships visiting Hawaii, representing eight cruise lines in 124 sailings.

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