POSTED: 5:52 p.m. HST, Jan 16, 2012
More than 104,000 travelers arrived in the islands on cruise ships — mostly from the West Coast — in the first 11 months of last year, according to the most recent data available. That's a 14.5 percent increase from the same period in 2010. There were 59 cruise liners that pulled into Hawaii ports during that time, an increase of 11.3 percent.
There are several reasons for the growth, industry experts say, including the presence of more cruise ships in the Pacific and a fear among some travelers of ongoing drug-cartel related violence in Mexico.
The industry still hasn't recouped a pre-recession peak of about 130,000 passengers reached in 2007, but travel agents say demand for West Coast to Hawaii cruises is strong.
Donna Ratte, owner of the Cruise Holidays travel agency franchise in Palm Springs, Calif., said many of her customers who used to board ships to Mexico are heading to Hawaii instead. There isn't as much interest in Mexico among senior citizens, which make up a big portion of the retiree community, she said.