NCL Corporation has decided to withdraw its Pride of Hawaii cruise
ship from the Hawaii market, at least on a temporary basis. The
April 10 announcement came as a surprise to tourism officials in
the Islands, as well as on the mainland. Pride of Hawaii’s last
cruise will take place in January 2008. Launched in 2006, Pride of
Hawaii was the third vessel in the NCL America fleet. Utilizing
American-flagged ships and American crews, the NCL America vessels
have offered a unique program of inter-island itineraries in Hawaii
for the past three years.
In contrast, other major cruise lines operate foreign-flagged
vessels that are required by maritime laws to visit a foreign port.
They thus can’t replicate NCL’s Hawaii-only itineraries.
The interisland concept was considered an innovative, but risky,
strategy for a major cruise line when first announced. And it now
appears that the challenges of operating three American-flagged
vessels (including Pride of Aloha and Pride of America) proved a
bit more daunting than originally envisioned.
In an April 10 statement, the company noted: “NCL’s substantial
2006 losses, reported in February of this year, have been caused by
downward pricing pressure in the Hawaii market following the
addition of Pride of Hawaii to the fleet last summer, and the steep
increase in the amount of foreign flag competition entering the
Hawaii market from the West Coast.”
At the cruise industry conference in Ft. Lauderdale,
cruise3sixty, held March 30-April 1, NCL Corporation president and
CEO Colin Veitch acknowledged the unexpected obstacles the line had
faced in training and retaining crew members for its NCL America
vessels. But, he nonetheless gave no hint of the news to
“We take this action with regret, but sure in the knowledge that
a temporary retrenchment is the right thing to do for the good of
the business and the good of Hawaii in the long run,” said Veitch
in the April 10 statement. “We remain committed to building a
strong U.S. Flag cruise business home ported in Hawaii, and we need
to make sure that our other two ships, Pride of Aloha and Pride of
America, are able to achieve acceptable profitability before we can
confidently re-introduce Pride of Hawaii.”
In some ways, added Veitch, the company was a victim of its own
success. “We have demonstrated that Hawaii is a highly attractive
cruise destination, and Hawaii now has four times as much capacity
serving it in 2007 as it did in 2004 when we started NCL America,”
said Veitch. “We are now very hopeful that this latest measure will
make the critical difference in ensuring the success of this
Veitch added: “We continue to have a vision of a strong domestic
cruise industry in Hawaii and firmly believe that the combination
of steps we have now taken will result in a strong NCL America
delivering the best cruise itinerary anywhere in the world with the
very highest standard of service at sea.”
The Pride of Hawaii, meanwhile, will be renamed Norwegian Jade
and redeployed in Europe as part of the Norwegian Cruise Line
fleet. The ship will be re-flagged into the Bahamas registry and
undergo a short wet dock in Honolulu in February 2008.
Modifications will include the addition of a casino and new artwork
on her hull, replacing the vibrantly colored floral lei that has
been the ship’s trademark.
After a series of repositioning cruises, the newly-renamed ship
will arrive in Barcelona to begin sailing an array of European
itineraries to the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, Baltic,
British Isles and the North Cape.
The line has offered a full refund to guests booked on Pride of
Hawaii beyond its last sailing in January 2008.