After nearly 2 years, Hawaii sees return of large cruise ships

Jan 11, 2022

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Big-ship cruising is finally — finally! — restarting in Hawaii.

After a 22-month period without a single voyage around the Hawaiian islands by a vessel that carried more than a few dozen people, Princess Cruises‘ Grand Princess on Sunday arrived in Honolulu on the first leg of a 15-night sailing from Los Angeles.

The 2,590-passenger ship is the first from any major cruise line to visit Hawaii since the cruise industry shut down operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Hawaii is one of the last major cruise destinations around the world to reopen to large cruise ships.

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“We are delighted to call again on Hawaii, and our guests are very excited about visiting the Aloha state, and doing so safely,” a spokesperson for the cruise line said on Monday.

Carrying 1,188 passengers and 915 crew, Grand Princess will visit the Hawaiian islands of Kauai, Hawaii and Maui before heading back to Los Angeles. The ship also will make a short stop in Ensenada, Mexico, toward the end of the trip.

Other cruise ships scheduled to restart calls in Hawaii in the coming weeks include Carnival Cruise Line‘s Carnival Miracle, Oceania Cruises‘ Insignia and Princess’ Ruby Princess.

Just one small cruise brand, UnCruise Adventures, already had restarted Hawaii cruises. The small-ship cruise specialist operates a 36-passenger, yacht-like vessel in the Hawaiian islands on a seasonal basis.

Usually synonymous with Hawaiian Island sailings, Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Pride of America has had to postpone cruises through Feb. 26, 2022, as part of a larger group of cancellations on which TPG reported last week.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaii has had notoriously strict protocols for both inter-island travel and for travelers entering the state from elsewhere.

Last year, Hawaii also issued pleas for outsiders to stop visiting the islands, which were dealing with overtourism despite virus spikes in 2021.

In what some may see as an about face, the state is now reopening to cruise vessels even as some other destinations become more restrictive about ship visits due to the spike in COVID-19 cases worldwide being caused by the omicron variant of the illness.

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Featured image courtesy of Princess Cruises.

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