Will Hawaii welcome cruise ships back soon?

   October 6, 2020 ,   Cruise Industry

Come November 1, larger cruise ships could return to Hawaii’s waters. However, it is probably not going to be smooth sailing at first for the cruise shipping industry.

Back in March, the USA's agency CDC issued a travel advisory saying United States citizens, particularly those with underlying conditions, should not travel by cruise ship. The CDC then issued a “no-sail” order for ships with the capacity to carry at least 250 guests in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

The CDC had wanted the order extended to keep cruise ships docked until mid-February. The White House, however, intervened, and the order was extended only through October 31, a date that most of the cruise industry had voluntarily agreed to honour anyway.

It is still unclear how many cruise liners might return to Hawaii this year or what the public safety plan of the state is for their return. Sailing could be challenging given that an interisland quarantine is still existing and there are differing COVID restrictions that could interfere with port calls, activities, and attractions.

According to the State Department of Transportation spokesman Tim Sakahara, “currently there are no cruise line bookings for Honolulu Harbor the remainder of the year.”

To change that, the industry has to get its plans approved by the Centers and state HDOT Harbors Division and would also need to find a way to navigate the interisland quarantines of Hawaii and other county restrictions, which might keep travelers from being allowed to make port calls.

According to Hawaii Tourism Authority, only 20 cruise vessels visited Hawaii in the first 8 months of 2020, bringing a total of 29,792 tourists. HTA said that was ~61% drop from 2019 when 37 vessels to Hawaii carried 77,036 passengers.

Despite the financial losses, HTA is still uncertain when Hawaii might be welcoming the cruisers back.