NCL’s latest and greatest makes first Hawaiian stop

The cruise ship Pride of Hawai‘i made its first appearance in the state at Nawiliwili Harbor yesterday.

“We are very honored to have her here on her maiden voyage,” said Rev. Wayne Vidinha of Ke Akua Mana Church before he blessed the ship.

Capt. Kjell M. Nesheim welcomed a Kaua‘i delegation of visitors aboard the largest U.S.-flagged passenger ship ever built.

“It’s a great day for us,” Nesheim said.

It took more than five weeks for the Norwegian Cruise Line ship to get to Kaua‘i.

“We started up in Germany, crossed the Atlantic, went through the Panama Canal and crossed the Pacific with the first passengers from California,” Nesheim said.

The ship stopped in San Francisco before crossing the Pacific Ocean.

“The crew is very excited to be here,” the captain said.

Robert Kritzman, executive vice president and managing director of NCL America’s Hawai‘i operations, said the Pride of Hawai‘i is a state-of-the-art ship.

The $500 million ship carries 2,500 passengers and 1,000 crew members, featuring 10 restaurants, 12 bars, a large pool area with a water slide and a health and fitness spa.

Kritzman called the ship a floating city with 3,500 people in it.

The ship generates its own electricity, creates its own fresh water from salt water, and recycles or incinerates just about every type of trash, Kritzman said.

“We have a sewage treatment plant that treats the effluent to the point where it’s pure, fresh water,” he said. “It is very environmentally friendly.”

The Pride of Hawai‘i, along with the Pride of America and the Pride of Aloha, will capture almost 90 percent of the Hawai‘i cruise market, Kritzman said.

“This is really is Hawai‘i’s cruise line,” he said, noting that the three ships are the only Hawai‘i-based ships to offer seven-day interisland cruises.

Pride of Hawai‘i is staffed with locals. Kamana‘opono Hattori, the ship’s “Hawaiian Ambassador,” has been with NCL for two years.

“I teach the hula classes, the arts and crafts classes, and do presentations about the history and culture of each port of call,” said the Kaneohe native.

Hattori also takes part in presentations on the geological history of the Na Pali Coast while the ship skirts the rugged cliffs.

In his 14 years of sailing the Hawaiian Islands, Hattori has encountered a lot of people who want to learn more about the state’s culture and go for adventures that are off the beaten path.

“The hardest part for them is to plan tours so that they get to see everything they want to see,” he said.

Devin Gomes of Waianae on O‘ahu is the ship’s room service supervisor. “I take care of 1,256 rooms,” he said. “If they order breakfast, I make sure that they get it, or any special request they have in regards to food items.”

He oversees a bell staff of 16 and four butlers.

Gomes said passengers may put in their order by calling room service, or by ordering off menus posted on the ship’s interactive television system.

“We’ll get your order to you in less than 30 minutes,” Gomes said.

Kritzman said an NCL ship will be at Nawiliwili Harbor six days out of the week. The Pride of Hawai‘i will arrive at the harbor on Saturdays, stay overnight, and leave on Sundays.

Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau, said last week the Pride of Hawai‘i will offer visitors a chance to explore the island further.

“We see it as an opportunity for them to do more activities, do more shopping and a chance for them to explore more of the island versus the shorter day trips,” said Kanoho.

She said some of the activities take place on the North Shore.

“It’s a bit of a drive, and some of the tours last four or five hours,” Kanoho said.

The ship begins its regular schedule of round-trip, seven-day cruises a week from today. Cruises originate in Honolulu, with overnights in Hilo on the Big Island on Tuesdays and Kahului, Maui, on Wednesdays and Kona on the Big Island on Fridays before heading to Kaua‘i.

Prices for interisland cruises range from $1,000 to $13,000.

• Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or ckaneshiro@kauaipubco.com.

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