No Hawaii Cruising Until 2022, State Official Says; Viking and UnCruise React

Don't expect any cruise ship operations within Hawaii through the end of 2021, according to Jai Cunningham, a state Department of Transportation spokeswoman, as discussed with several Hawaii media outlets late last week including the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Cunningham said that the agency does not anticipate approving port calls for cruise vessels with passengers this year, although the state does anticipate completing an agreement with the cruise lines and, if approved by the parties, that would allow cruises to resume in early 2022. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does have a Conditional Sail Order (CSO), which requires an executed agreement with any cruise line prior to its resumption of operations to/from any U.S. port, but that's set to expire on January 15. That said, the CDC has extended that CSO in the past and could do so again. 

John Heald, Carnival Cruise Line's brand ambassador, has said publicly that Carnival—which had planned two sailings of Carnival Miracle prior to year's end from Long Beach, CA—now won't be returning to Hawaii for scheduled sailings until 2022.

Viking also has canceled several cruises, but small-ship UnCruise Adventures says it's still negotiating for its Hilo to Molokai sailings. See statements from both those lines below.

The most prolific Hawaii cruise line, given its American flagging, is Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America, which doesn't plan its restart until early 2022.  

Viking Cancellations

Among Viking's cruises to Hawaii this year was a 16-night "Hawaiian Islands Sojourn," with Viking Orion departing Los Angeles for Hawaii on December 20, 2021. Here is the official statement provided by Viking: 

"Hawaii has a comprehensive and thorough program to welcome cruise ships back to the islands, and we have been in constant communication with local authorities. Ultimately, though, many of Hawaii’s protocols are still in development—and will not be available for the sailings we had scheduled in December 2021. 

"Viking and Hawaii share the same goals to protect the crew, guests and the local residents of the islands. We look forward to working together when Hawaii’s program is fully implemented and cruise ships are welcomed once again, which is expected to be in January 2022."

UnCruise Statement

UnCruise Adventures isn't giving up just yet, though. Here's the small-ship line's statement from Dan Blanchard, the line's owner and CEO:

"We are currently working with local Hawaiian officials regarding our winter operations between Kona and Molokai. We have a 10-year relationship with the people of Molokai, including cultural excursions in the community. Our small experiential culture and adventure-based cruises are currently set to resume on November 26th and have been sold out for months. 

"The effects of the potential cancellation of these small ship excursions will have negative ripple effects for the small businesses and Hawaiian practitioners of Molokai, along with our small business. We have permission to visit the ports, and parks we operate in within other islands and are hoping for the same positive outcome for operating on Molokai. 

"It is difficult for me to comprehend the reasoning behind the decision from the state of Hawaii and Maui County Mayor's Office. The Safari Explorer, which operates in Hawaii is a 36-passenger vessel. Viewing this tiny vessel with the same approach as a large cruise ship is like comparing a small B&B to a large hotel chain."

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