Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it won’t make calls in Big Isle ports this week, widening tourism losses for the hard-hit island.
NCL notified Hawaii island businesses this morning that Pride of America will not call in Hilo on Tuesday and as a result will spend the day at sea. On Wednesday, NCL said Pride of America will not call in Kona but will add an additional day in Maui and call in Lahaina instead.
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“At Norwegian Cruise Line, the safety and security of our guests and crew is our top priority. We have been closely monitoring the adverse conditions impacting the Big Island of Hawaii and are modifying the itinerary of Pride of America to ensure our guests have the best vacation experience possible,” the company said in a statement today.
This latest loss is on top of those already reported by Ross Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He said the island has had “many cancellations from our hotel side and activities are being affected.”
The losses are “quite substantial,” Birch said. They are “almost 50 percent off summer bookings from previous years.”
Bill Zabolski, owner of Captain Zodiac, said the company and other Hawaii island businesses rely heavily on cruise ship stops.
“Cruise ships are 20 to 30 percent of our overall business,” Zabolski said. “We plan on them for a major source of revenue as do all the shops and restaurants along Alii Drive in downtown Kona. On Wednesdays when the cruise ships come, our whole town comes alive.”
Zabolski said that he hasn’t received word from NCL on why they made the decision not to make Hawaii island port calls or when they planned to resume.
“The decision was a shock,” Zabolski said. “In Kona, we’re 100 miles away from volcanoes. It’s a blue-sky day and there’s no more vog than usual.”
Zabolski said he and other members of the Hawaii island visitor industry want to get the message out that it’s safe to visit unaffected areas of the island.
“We want to remind people that this is a volcanic eruption that has been ongoing since 1983 on the other side of the island and that it affects a small community of a couple thousand people. There are 180,000 people on the island and we are fine,” he said.