It may sound cliche to call Hawaii a paradise, but it also wouldn’t be far from the mark. With its 19 active volcanoes and black sand beaches, the natural beauty captures visitors almost as well as the people. Tourism drives the most populous and developed island, Oahu. Like many other destinations, similarly dependant on the tourism dollar, it suffered immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is changing as news is breaking that the state of Hawaii is welcoming back cruise ships and its tourists.
Hawaii signs a deal to welcome back cruise ships
According to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, the state signed a port agreement with cruise lines Carnival and Norwegian. The Hawaii Department of Transportation Harbors Division announced today the execution of the first port agreements. These agreements formalize health and safety protocols allowing for the return of cruise line operations in Hawaii.
The agreement allows the first passenger vessels to port in the state since the pandemic started two years ago. The companies will have to maintain specific protocols, such as mandatory COVID-19 testing and dedicated medical staff to handle any outbreaks.
Hawaii Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay commented, “We appreciate everyone, including the cruise line representatives, coming together to finalize the required agreements to fulfill the CDC Conditional Sailing Order.”
Both companies have agreed to require all passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated and a negative test to board the ships. In addition to these requirements, the cruise lines must also follow the Hawaii Safe Travels Program. This program requires all vessel occupants to upload proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test if they are arriving out of state. None of these rules apply to cruises that stay within the state and go from island to island.
These port agreements allow Hawaii to suspend the deal as COVID restrictions evolve.