County to have $500,000 Saturday with arrival of huge cruise ship

If everything goes right Saturday morning, Nawiliwili Harbor will see upwards of 5,000 passengers and 3,000 crew disembark from two huge cruise ships.

If 5,000 visitors get off the ships, and spend the average of $80 per person the state says they spend when they’re ashore a day, the island will witness a $400,000 day of spending.

The crews’ favorite haunts are Wal-Mart and Kmart, and shuttles will take them there free of charge. There are no statistics about what the average crew member spends during a day ashore in Hawai’i.

The visitors will spread out over most of the island, on van and bus tours to Hanalei, Waimea Canyon and other places, take taxi tours, rent cars, book helicopter flights, engage in all manner of land and river tours, and hop on other free shuttles for shopping experiences in and around Nawiliwili.

The 959-foot-long Carnival Spirit arrives first, scheduled to be dockside at Pier 2 by 7 a.m. The every-Saturday arrival of the 965-foot-long Norwegian Star is expected at Pier 3 by 8 a.m.

Then comes the fun part. Because of the Star’s length, it won’t fit lengthwise alongside Pier 3, where the Matson barges usually dock. It will be tied up in the harbor with its stern up against the southernmost end of the pier.

While the Carnival Spirit passengers and crew will have a simple gangplank walk to shore, the Star’s passengers and crew will have to be shuttled by boat across the harbor to the jetty where Club Jetty and the Seaflite terminal used to stand.

That will mean the jetty access road traffic will be limited to taxis, vans and other shuttles picking up passengers and crew, said Bob Crowell, state Department of Transportation Harbors Division harbormaster. Buses will use another gate to stay inside the state harbor’s fenced perimeter.

The shuttle boats hold 80 passengers each, so will have to make around 50 round-trips between the ship and jetty if 4,000 passengers and crew decide to leave the ship. At the jetty end, only one shuttle can be unloaded at a time. And there are no permanent toilet facilities or phones at the jetty.

This plan will be implemented if it wins approval from the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard, which has a ship and crew at Nawiliwili, recently has been called to do many more security-type duties than in previous years, as a result of Sept. 11.

A contingent of Coast Guard personnel from O’ahu will come to witness security provisions and how things work at the harbor, where it for the first time welcomes, simultaneously, two of the largest ships to call on Nawiliwili.

Matson, for its part, has agreed to delay the arrival of its Saturday barge, usually in port by 3 p.m. This Saturday, the Star leaves at 5 p.m., the Matson barge comes into Pier 1 at 5:30 p.m., and Spirit is out at 6 p.m., at which time the Matson ship will have the harbor to itself.

In anticipation of the historic event, Crowell yesterday called a morning meeting of shuttle, taxi, rental-car, retail, security and other personnel at his harbor office. Over 20 people attended.

A rental-car company representative said her shuttles will carry passengers from both vessels, and asked if those vehicles would be able to deliver passengers back to both ships.

Crowell said that may be a problem because of security requirements that may allow only passengers of one ship plus the driver beyond a particular checkpoint.

The same condition exists next Saturday, Oct. 12, as well, when the Star, Spirit and Matson vessel do the harbor tango once again.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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