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Friday, April 14, 2000

Liquor sales
OK’d till June
on Rainbow I

Dream Cruises' other ship still lacks
a license after breaches involving minors

By Harold Morse


Dream Cruises' vessel that won its liquor license back last year will keep the license through June, the Liquor Commission decided.

The commission will determine later whether the license will be retained beyond that time for the vessel Rainbow I and also how long Rainbow I will continue on probation.

The license of the firm's other vessel, American Dream, is still revoked. American Dream was cited March 27, 1999, for alcohol violations involving minors and cited again June 18, 1999.

On Aug. 19, the Liquor Commission fined Dream Cruises $3,350 for these violations and revoked liquor licenses for both American Dream and Rainbow I. An Oct. 14 hearing reconfirmed the fines but reinstated probationally the Rainbow I license.

Yesterday, the question was whether Dream Cruises is fit and proper to hold a liquor license, said Deputy Corporation Counsel Anthony Chang. The commission voted 4-1 to continue the license for Rainbow I for now. Commissioner Chu Lan Kwock cast the dissenting vote.

P. Michael Watson, Dream Cruises president, said outside the hearing room that Dream Cruises will apply for reinstatement of American Dream's license but declined to say when.

"Obviously, I'm delighted to retain our business. ... I believe that we are serious, hard-working and respectful of law, and I'm happy that they agreed with that," he said.

Dream Cruises was fined an additional $750 on Feb. 24 for late payment of the initial $3,350. Yesterday, attorney Hiram Kamaka took the blame for the late payment. He had advised Dream Cruises to wait for a written order to pay the $3,350, an order that never came, Dream Cruises spokesmen said. The $3,350 fine eventually was paid Dec. 23.

Kenneth Hoo, a new Dream Cruises attorney, said the company was in the process of seeking new counsel to replace Kamaka when it followed his advice to wait for a written order before paying the fine.

"I advised them to await your decision following the Oct. 14 (hearing)," Kamaka said.

It was a misunderstanding on his part of commission procedures, he said. "The failure to pay in a timely fashion was my fault, ladies and gentlemen. ... I suggest that it not be held against the licensee."

Hoo said: "There was no intent at any time to violate the written order or to be noncompliant with the order. ... So they have paid all the monetary fines that have been assessed against them. ... It was not the licensee who was at fault."

All fines were in connection with the American Dream, none with Rainbow I, and Dream Cruises has ceased all charters that resulted in the violations, Hoo said. "They have a new guest services manager who had substantial experience at work at Duke's and Don Ho's," Hoo said.

Cruise passengers now are older, and it's much easier to check identification, he said. Watson told commissioners he's been in the passenger vessel business here and in California since 1980.

Dream Cruises initial reaction to commission citations was an inappropriate response, Watson said. "We made what I consider a ghastly mistake doing these cruises and we ... will not do them again." It was hard to police alcohol sale with so many minors aboard, said Watson, who has children of his own, ages 4 to 22.

"As a parent, I'm very serious about underage drinking in my own case," he said.

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