Pride of Hawaii on its way
The Pride of Hawaii, the largest and most expensive U.S.-flagged passenger ship ever built, is scheduled to leave California today for its new home in the islands.
The 2,400-passenger cruise ship was christened Saturday in Los Angeles by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and is expected to arrive on Kauai on Sunday. It will stop in Hilo on May 30, Kahului the next day and Kona on June 2 before arriving at its Honolulu homeport June 3.
The 965-foot vessel is the third in a series of U.S.-flagged cruise ships sailing under the NCL America brand for the rapidly growing interisland market. It joins the Pride of Aloha and Pride of America in NCL's fleet.
Colin Veitch, president and chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Line, said Inouye is "the father of this project and its most steadfast supporter."
The Pride of Hawaii and Pride of America are from the "Project America" program that Norwegian purchased after the U.S. cruise ship company American Classic Voyages declared bankruptcy in 2001.
Inouye pushed legislation in the 2003 federal appropriations bill allowing Norwegian to sail the two ships under a U.S. flag with an American crew. It also allowed the cruise line to reflag the Norwegian Sky, now the Pride of Aloha.
The provision exempts Norwegian's ships from federal law that prohibits foreign-built ships from operating between U.S. ports. It also requires the cruise line to employ American crews and abide by all U.S. laws.
"I have always believed in the potential of Hawaii as a major cruise destination, and I am very pleased that, thanks to NCL, at last this has happened," Inouye said.
The Pride of Hawaii will officially enter seven-day interisland service June 5. The ship weighs 93,500 tons and cost more than $500 million to build.