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The influential Inouye was a champion of the now-shuttered
American Classic Voyages, which ceased operations and filed for
bankruptcy Oct. 19. Inouye’s wife, Maggie, christened an AMCV ship
on Dec. 8, 2000, but the senator did not attend the Norwegian
Star’s inaugural celebrations in Honolulu a year later.
Inouye helped AMCV’s two Hawaii-based cruise lines, American
Hawaii Cruises and United States Lines, secure an exemption to the
decades-old passenger shipping law that requires
foreign-built-and-flagged vessels to stop at one foreign port
during a cruise to and from U.S. ports.
Inouye was also instrumental in shepherding a federal law in
December 2000 that outlawed shipboard gambling, as NCL finalized
plans to enter the Hawaii market. The measure removed what could
have been a potential marketing edge for NCL, since the two AMCV
vessels did not have casinos.
AMCV enjoyed an exemption that allowed it to operate the Patriot
in Hawaii without stopping at a foreign port, even though the
vessel was built overseas. Is NCL interested in securing a similar
exemption now that AMCV is no longer around?
If it is, the line would use it to expand in Hawaii, not to
replace the Fanning Island call on the Norwegian Star’s weekly
itinerary, NCL said in a statement.
“We are clearly committed to Hawaii cruising and are the market
leader there. So it should not be surprising that we have indeed
had discussions with Sen. Inouye’s office to understand his
criteria for supporting a broadening of the cruise options
available in Hawaii,” the statement said.
NCL made it clear that it would not abandon Fanning Island as a
port call, even though it is approximately 1,000 miles south of
“We are strongly committed to continuing to offer our existing
itineraries based on Fanning Island, where we have already invested
millions of dollars in infrastructure,” NCL said. “Fanning Island,
to many people’s surprise, has become one of the passenger
highlights of our Hawaii-based cruises.”
NCL did not say whether shipboard gambling was discussed and it
did not elaborate on the negotiations.