Holland America’s Statendam, which plans to be the first major
cruise vessel to call on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, was forced
to cancel its scheduled visit Jan. 22. The change, which occurred
after the U.S. Coast Guard asked the ship for emergency aid, was
second time in three weeks that the controversial visit was
The ship had to cut one Hawaii port call because it lost a day’s
travel while helping three passengers aboard a private yacht. A
Holland America spokeswoman, Rose Abello, said Molokai was most
“We have a track record in the other ports of getting the people
in and we know what kind of experience they’re going to have,”
Abello said. “All of Molokai is an unknown because we haven’t been
there yet. So when we look at dropping a port, we want to make sure
the rest of the experience is as good as we can make it.”
On Dec. 28 the Statendam anchored off shore, but high winds
prevented passengers from coming on land. Holland America will get
two more chances to call on Molokai this year, with stops planned
in April and November.
The ship’s arrival has been controversial on the small island,
prized by locals and visitors for its rural charm and Old Hawaii
feel. Many residents say they are happy to have a new source of
industry on Molokai, where unemployment is the highest in the
state. But others fear the island does not have the facilities to
handle the 1,000 visitors who were expected to come ashore, and
that cruise ships will ruin the island’s rural nature and damage
its delicate reef.
The boosters have said that they will support the cruise line’s
future visits with festivities and crafts fairs, noting that the
port calls are a good way to grow Molokai’s tourism industry
without building more hotels.
“If people come over to Molokai for the day, they’re going to
come back and stay,” said Sandy Beddow, director of the Molokai
Beddow estimates the economic impact at $131,000 per visit.
As the ship sat off shore on Dec. 28, a reported 100 or more
protesters lined the dock with signs that read “No Aloha for Cruise
Ships” and other slogans.
Holland America executives said they added Molokai to the
itinerary because many of the people on its 15- and 16-day Hawaii
cruises are repeaters, and Molokai offers new sites and
“From what I can see, the Molokai call is going to be very
successful,” said David Giersdorf, HAL’s senior vice president for
marketing and sales. “The guests are looking forward to us going
there, the governor, the mayor of Maui County, the business people
are looking forward to us coming and welcoming our guests.”
He said there are no immediate plans to expand the number of
calls scheduled for Molokai each year.