2 cruise ships turned away by other ports head to Honolulu

Two cruise ships that were turned away by other ports are headed to Honolulu

The Maasdam, operated by Holland America Line, had its port call canceled in Hilo, Hawaii, and is set to disembark Friday in Honolulu Harbor, state officials said. It has 842 guests and 542 crew members.

Norwegian Cruise Line said one of its vessels that was turned away by Fiji and New Zealand is expected to disembark in Honolulu on Sunday. The Norwegian Jewel, with about 2,000 passengers, refueled in American Samoa but was not allowed to disembark at the Port of Pago Pago.

New measures to seal borders to reduce the spread of the coronavirus have left some cruise ships stranded as local governments deny permission to disembark.

News that the Maasdam previously planned to arrive in Hilo on Hawaii's Big Island — after dozens of other ships canceled port calls for fear of spreading coronavirus — sparked worry, with many calling for the ship to be redirected or even for civilian vessels to physically block the Maasdam’s entrance to the harbor, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

Officials were still working on a plan for the ships' arrivals, said Tim Sakahara, spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

The department said officials were working to direct the Maasdam to Honolulu Harbor so passengers will have flight options out of Honolulu's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

“Both ships will have been at sea longer than the 14-day incubation period,” Sakahara said.

Still, Hawaii Gov. David Ige said that starting Friday, disembarking cruise ship passengers will undergo thermal scanning and interviews by physicians.

“We have been told so many times we can disembark, only to be told the day before we couldn’t,” Edmund Pinto, a passenger on the Norwegian Jewel and a former Associated Press editor, said Wednesday.

Ige on Tuesday asked people to postpone island vacations for at least 30 days as the state tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Holland America Line's Westerdam cruise ship arrived Monday in Honolulu with no passengers. The ship departed from the Philippines on March 2 with with 680 crew and 18 contract service staff, who all tested negative for COVID-19 in mid-February, the cruise line said in a statement. The ship sailed for more than a month with no port calls, the statement said.


Associated Press journalist Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City and Fili Sagapolutele in Pago Pago, American Samoa, contributed to this report.