LIHUE — Andrea Goldstein of Boston was among the crowd of passengers who had one word to describe the dockside activity Thursday.
“They make us feel very welcome,” Goldstein said. “This is better than just walking into a terminal. They are happy people, and because they’re so happy, it makes us happy. This is the best, and that’s why we are here the last — they always save the best for last. While on the ship, I had visions of what Hawaii was, and is now, this is the real Hawaii!”
The 2,400 passengers aboard the NCL Pride of America cruise ship were joined by a security crew as well as harbormaster Robert Crowell, who came to watch the inaugural boatside greeting.
“This is like deja vu,” said Sharon Leoiki, Alu Like member. “I used to do this right out of high school. Now, I’m back doing this.”
More than 30 Alu Like members from all parts of the island arrived at the harbor and set up for the arriving cruise ship in a designated area established by the security and harbor personnel.
“This is the inaugural greeting,” said Lani Kaui of the Kauai Visitors Bureau. “It took a lot of hard work to get to this point. The Alu Like people even had to go through a security class to learn the proper way to conduct themselves in accordance to security requirements. They all have to wear their purple Alu Like shirts and they are all identified properly. We also had to lug all the plants, rocks, and move all the tables and set up the chairs.”
Christine Kellogg of Florida said she always wondered how leis were made.
“I made my first one,” the elated passenger said. “Now, where do I find a lei needle?”
The dockside greeting program included music, hula, and crafts by the kupuna. It is a collaborative effort between the Hawaii Tourism Authority, KVB, the County of Kauai, and the State of Hawaii-Department of Transportation, Harbors Division.
“This worked out well,” said Nalani Brun of the county’s Office of Economic Development. “We were just coordinators in getting this together. We were lucky the Alu Like kupuna had a program in place on Thursdays. Previously, Thursday was their field trip day and they would usually end up at the Waimea Plantation Cottages.”
The weekly gatherings ended after the property got sold and the kupuna were looking for a place to meet.
“I am so proud of our precious kupuna for sharing the Hawaiian culture at the Nawiliwili Pier,” said Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. “It’s a wonderful treat for our cruise ship visitors to be greeted by these ambassadors of aloha.”