Hawaii Denies Permission to Disembark for Two Cruise Ships

Honolulu's Pier 2 cruise berth (file image)

Published Mar 19, 2020 9:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Thursday, the state of Hawaii said that it will allow the cruise ships Maasdam and Norwegian Jewel to enter Honolulu Harbor in order to refuel and resupply, but it will not allow passengers to disembark.

“The health and safety of all people in Hawaii is always at the forefront of operational decisions. Presently, all state resources are focused and directed towards containing the spread of COVID-19. Allowing more than 2,500 passengers and crew to disembark will further strain these resources,” said Jade Butay, the director of the Hawaii Department of Transportation. “HDOT and the state are allowing the ships to dock at Honolulu Harbor so they may refuel and restock. Neither ship had originally planned to make Hawaii its final port and both will carry on to mainland destinations, where more resources can be marshalled to handle the passengers and crew properly.”

On Tuesday, Hawaii governor David Ige asked visitors to consider postponing their travel to Hawaii for at least 30 days. HDOT said that it made the decision to deny the two requests to allow passengers and crew to disembark in line with the governor's directive.

16 other cruise ships have canceled their scheduled calls in Hawaii as part of the industry's nationwide suspension of operations, but the Maasdam and Norwegian Jewel were already at sea at the time the moratorium was announced.

The Maasdam is scheduled to arrive at Honolulu Harbor Pier 2 on Friday, and she is scheduled to depart the following day. There are about 850 passengers onboard.

The Norwegian Jewel is scheduled to arrive on Sunday, March 22, and she has about 1,700 passengers on board.

There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on either ship, but both vessels have been in search of a port of call for some time. Norwegian Jewel set sail from Australia in February, but she was refused entry by Fiji, New Zealand and French Polynesia over the perceived risk of coronavirus transmission. Maasdam departed New Zealand on March 2; she was turned away from French Polynesia and from Hilo, Hawaii, and she diverted to Honolulu instead.