Cruise ships offer economic lifeline to struggling Maui businesses

Some Maui businesses say they are getting an economic boost from visitors, but they are not coming by air but by sea.
Published: Oct. 1, 2023 at 10:35 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 2, 2023 at 1:07 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui businesses are getting an economic boost from cruise ship visitors even as overall tourism to the island remains down following the wildfires.

“We are glad the cruise ships are coming here. It helps the business. We are trying to survive,” said one taxi cab driver.

Several passengers getting off Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Pride of America” said they have been following the news out of Maui and want to help support the economy.

“We came from Sydney, Australia. We are looking to do a snorkel trip, and we are just coming into town to see what’s available,” said Carolyn Millers.

According to the Hawaii Department of Transportation, the harbor will have around 10 visits from cruise ships in October.

The governor has called for West Maui to be reopened to visitors on Oct. 8.

However, more than 9,000 have signed a petition asking for that to be delayed as some of the dead have yet to be buried, and displaced families are just now returning to the burn zones.

Some state and Maui County lawmakers are adding their support to that call.

Green counters that reopening that part of the island, home to the popular Kaanapali resort area, is crucial to Maui’s economic recovery.

Many businesses add the reality is that without visitors, there is no way for them to stay open.

“Business before the fire was great. We probably had 80 employees. Now it’s easily cut in half,” said Anthony Garcia, with Da Nani Pirates food truck.

Although the cruise ships are returning to Maui since the fires, they are not going to Lahaina harbor, which they visited before, and there is no telling when they will ever be able to do so.