After typical summer lull, cruise ships are back

After spending the summer cruise season in Alaska, the Caribbean or other parts of the world, many cruise ships are back in Hawaiian waters.

Between now and the end of the year, no less than 27 port calls are scheduled for Nawiliwili Harbor for cruise ships other than the Norwegian Star, which calls each Saturday morning as part of its weekly interisland cruise.

The parade begins tomorrow, Monday, Sept. 23, as the 964-foot-long MV Summit eases into Nawiliwili, scheduled to arrive at 7 a.m. and depart 6 p.m. the same day.

On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the Vision of the Seas, 915 feet long, arrives at 7 a.m., and leaves at 6 p.m. The Norwegian Wind, the 754-foot-long sister ship of the Norwegian Star, comes to Nawiliwili this Thursday, Sept. 26, in at 7 a.m. and out at 6 p.m.

On Friday, Sept. 27, the MV Summit returns, in at 7 a.m. and out at 6 p.m., and on what will be a very busy Saturday, Sept. 28, the Norwegian Star, Norwegian Wind and Matson container ship are all scheduled to arrive at 7 a.m.

The Wind leaves at 3 p.m., and the Star and Matson vessel at 6 p.m.

The return of the cruise ships after a four-month hiatus is welcome news for local merchants, tour operators, taxi drivers, and other vendors in and out of the Nawiliwili area, as state surveys show that the average cruise-ship passenger plunks down around $90 dollars per person during each shore stop.

And cruise-ship statistics show that nearly every passenger gets off the ship when it comes to Nawiliwili.

The average cruise visitor during the first half of 2002 spent approximately $91 per person per day (PPPD) while on shore in Hawai’i, according to results from surveys conducted by the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

This amount is comprised of tour costs and other on-land expenditures such as money spent in restaurants, and on entertainment, shopping, and souvenirs. In comparison, the average non-cruise visitor to Hawai’i spent $176 per person per day during the same six-month period.

U.S. East cruise visitors spent the most at $97 PPPD, followed by visitors from Europe ($87), Canada ($85), and U.S. West ($83). In contrast, Hawai’i resident cruise passengers spent only $37 PPPD.

Statistics from DBEDT indicate the number of visitors on cruise ships in Hawai’i continued to climb in the first half of 2002, up 53.1 percent from the same period last year, to 118,515 passengers.

And with various cruise companies vowing to bring even more ships to the islands, some temporarily and others permanently, the numbers will continue to grow.

“The continued growth in cruise passengers to the islands is very encouraging, especially in light of the challenges the tourism industry has faced during the past year,” said Dr. Seiji Naya, DBEDT director.

“It is another sign of resilience in our visitor industry, and testimony to Hawai’i’s reputation as an attractive visitor destination,” Naya said.

Decisions by domestic travelers to take to the seas instead of the air, and to chose domestic destinations over international ones in the wake of Sept. 11, has much to do with increases in Hawai’i cruise-ship passengers as well, industry experts have said.

A total of 23 cruise ships made 67 trips around the islands from January to June 2002 this year. This number includes voyages of the Norwegian Star, which is now domiciled in Hawai’i throughout the entire year.

The ships visiting this year are nearly all larger than the 20 cruise vessels that made 75 trips with 77,385 passengers during the same period last year.

Of the 118,515 total passengers who toured the islands aboard cruise ships during the first half of 2002, nearly 97 percent were out-of-state visitors, while 3,568 passengers were Hawai’i residents.

Visitors from the U.S. East comprised the largest percentage of out-of-state passengers (56.2 percent), followed by visitors from U.S. West (31.3 percent), Canada (5.8 percent), Europe (2 percent), and others (4.6 percent).

Over half of the passengers (52.4 percent) were repeat visitors to the islands, while 33.8 percent came to Hawai’i for the first time.

Close to 84 percent of the passengers cruised the islands for leisure, 8.8 percent visited friends and relatives, while 3.6 percent were on their honeymoons.

The total average length of stay of cruise passengers in Hawai’i during the first half of 2002 was 6.74 days. In addition to the average of 4.49 days all passengers spent aboard ship touring the islands and the 1.17 days they spent on shore after their cruise was over, the visitors arriving in Hawai’i by air stayed an average of 1.08 days in Hawai’i before their cruises.

Passengers from Europe spent the most time in the islands, 7.68 days. Their average length of cruise was 4.63 days, and they also spent 1.52 days on shore after their cruises were over. The average length of stay by Canadian visitors was 7.28 total days, of which 4.54 days were spent on ship and 1.28 days were spent in the islands after cruises. U.S. West visitors spent an average of 6.78 total days in the islands, 4.54 days aboard ship and 1.40 days after cruises.

The average length of stay for U.S. East cruise visitors was the shortest at 6.64 total days. Their length of cruise was 4.48 days with only 0.96 days spent in the islands after their cruise ended.

Of those who spent extra nights in Hawai’i either before or after their cruises, about 54 percent chose to stay in hotels. Other types of lodging used by cruise visitors during their extra nights included condominiums (3.9 percent), timeshare properties (2 percent), and staying with friends and relatives (2.4 percent).

The survey results are based on 11,871 completed cruise survey forms, representing 25,620 visitors and yielding a sampling error of plus or minus 0.4 percent. Consistent with DBEDT’s efforts to adopt the most efficient technological distribution media, the data is posted on-line at http://www.hawaii.gov/dbedt/latest.html.

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