Cruise lines promise
no Molokai stops
Isle residents meet with executives
from 2 major companies
KALAMAULA, Molokai >> Officials from Holland America Line Inc. and Princess Cruises & Tours last night assured Molokai residents no cruise ships would stop at their island.
"I think it's unfortunate how things got a little off track. ... It's not the way we want to do business," said Tom Dow, vice president of public affairs for Princess Cruises. "Our plans are, we're not going to bring ships to Molokai, period."
Dow and John Shively, vice president of government and community relations for Holland America, said they were willing to consider the idea of ferrying cruise passengers from Lahaina to Molokai.
But Shively said the proposal would have to come from Molokai residents.
More than 60 people attended the meeting last night at a community complex in Kalamaula in central Molokai.
Cruise line officials met with the community to fulfill a promise to state legislators that a community meeting would be held on Molokai before making plans for further visits.
Holland America's ship Statendam canceled a scheduled stop Dec. 28, blaming high winds in the channel for making landing difficult.
While some merchants supported the planned stop, others protested, citing worries about the impact on reefs used for subsistence fishing, and filed a lawsuit in Maui Circuit Court.
The Hawaiian environmental group Hui Ho'opakele Aina, arguing the cruise lines should be required to come up with an environmental impact statement before landing on Molokai, lost an attempt for a temporary and preliminary court injunction.
Earthjustice attorney Isaac Moriwake, representing the Hui, said the group is still seeking a permanent injunction.
Moriwake said the lawsuit wouldn't apply to ferries between Lahaina and Molokai, because they are already in operation.
Residents, including activists, last night appeared happy with the comments and accepted the apology.
Walter Ritte, a spokesman for Hui Ho'opakele Aina, said he viewed the meeting as a victory for Molokai in attempts to make big businesses understand they should consult with the community before beginning projects on the Friendly Isle.
"The protest part is over. We're in the healing part," Ritte said. "Hopefully, it's going to be a victory for the cruise lines."
A number of residents said they were pleased that cruise officials took the time to talk with them, but felt hurt by the way they weren't consulted from the outset.
Maui County Councilman Danny Mateo said he sent a letter to Holland America earlier this year and never received a response from it.
Mateo said although he felt "snubbed," he is putting the incident aside.
"This is a new beginning," he said.
He said the island needs to be careful to protect its natural resources and culture and he liked the idea of a "small ferry" bringing cruise passengers to Molokai.