Passengers boost Hawaii's cruise ship industry

Passengers boost Hawaii's cruise ship industry
Published: Sep. 9, 2012 at 10:17 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 9, 2012 at 10:26 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A cruise ship that offers interisland tours will soon be revitalized with a multi-million dollar investment. The Pride of America is just one vessel showcasing Hawaii's appeal to passengers from around the world.

The ship debuted in 2005 as the first new U.S.-flagged cruise ship in nearly half a century. The vessel pulled into Honolulu Harbor this weekend carrying plenty of excited passengers.

"Going to see the Hawaiian Islands. Might be the only chance I get," said passenger Lu Carradine of Fort Wort, Texas.

The ship, which sails to four islands during its weekly voyage, will head into dry dock for two weeks staring in late March. Norwegian Cruise Line is spending $30 million on luxurious suites, new staterooms and other upgrades.

"Any time we refresh our product we revitalize interest in the islands, so it's gonna bring a lot of attention to the islands and to cruising the islands," said David Uchiyama of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Disney's cruise ship "Wonder" made its inaugural voyage to Hawaii in May. A second sailing is planned next month. The vessel docked in Honolulu as well as neighbor island ports.

"What we've been focusing on is distribution to the neighbor islands, and being able to have a surge of expenditures into the neighbor islands instead of everything on Oahu," Uchiyama explained.

With roughly 122 voyages into the state this year, the Hawaii Tourism Authority is expecting 163,000 cruise ship arrivals, up from 123,000 in 2011.

"If you haven't been to the islands before, it gives you a sampling of each of the islands," said Uchiyama. "We've seen that people usually come back once they set their sights on one of the islands that they connect with."

"I don't know exactly what to expect, but I've just seen pictures and it's beautiful. We're going to get up at 3 o'clock in the morning and hike to the top of a volcano and see a sunrise and things like that," said Pride of America passenger Marilyn Smith of Kansas City, Missouri.