Friday, January 22, 1999

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
The Royal Hawaiian Band plays at Pier 10 for the
Norwegian Dynasty cruise ship's arrival last April.
Performance fees and cleanup costs are among the
obstacles cited in the past to bringing back Boat Days.

Cruise ships
preparing to strike
up the band

Boat Days return Sunday
amid efforts to re-establish the
once-popular fixture

By Jerry Tune


The passengers of four cruise ships visiting Honolulu Harbor will get a taste of old Hawaii on Sunday in what city and cruise industry officials hope will be the resumption of Boat Days celebrations.

The Royal Hawaiian Band will have a busy day as it greets the four ships. starting at 7:30 a.m. at Pier 2-B and ending at 6 p.m. at Piers 19-20.

City and cruise industry officials say they want to continue the new Boat Days program in order to boost a cruise ship industry estimated to pump in $200 million a year into the Hawaii economy. Organizers want to schedule more Royal Hawaiian Band receptions for those ship arrivals that can be fit into the band's schedule.

City Councilwoman Rene Mansho led efforts to bring back the Boat Days celebration, with the band, a red carpet, and plants brought to four different pier locations in Honolulu Harbor.

Boat Days started in 1872 and continued into the 1960s, as local residents greeted relatives and visitors to Hawaii with leis, streamers, hula and music. The tradition died out, however, as the jet age surpassed the cruise business.

Mansho said she got involved in bringing back Boat Days after talking to Bill Thayer, president of Waldron Steamship Co., which is the agent for many of the large cruise ships. He agreed to chair a committee that also includes Craig Kennedy, executive vice president Rod Tamamoto, president of Aala Ship Service Inc.; and Jake Ng, senior aide to Sen. Norman Sakamoto (D, Moanalua-Salt Lake).

"We're starting small but we want to bring back the enthusiasm of Boat Days," Mansho said. "We're working with the mayor's office and the state harbors people on this."

One problem is that there is an ordinance that requires that the city-sponsored Royal Hawaiian Band be paid $300 for every cruise ship performance, Mansho said. "But they do play community events (for free) and they want to come out for Boat Days," she added.

Mansho has introduced a bill that repeals the fee requirement. The first reading will be Wednesday and the bill could take effect in mid-March, she said.

Meanwhile, Thayer said he will make arrangements to pay the band for Boat Days performances, something the cruise ship industry has done in the past.

Mansho said the neighbor island cities are ahead of Honolulu on efforts to welcome cruise ships.

When the Boat Days idea was researched last year, Paula Loomis, assistant to Mayor Jeremy Harris, found that there were certain costs that prevented a full resurrection of Boat Days. These included the band fee and the cost to cleanup the harbor if confetti was thrown.

But Loomis said Harris supports the waiver of the band fee.

Kennedy, of stevedoring company McCabe Hamilton & Renny Co., said the Boat Days effort will send a message to cruise ship lines that Hawaii really wants them to continue visiting the islands.

"What we are looking at is a growing business opportunity for the state," Kennedy said. "Anything we can do to provide encouragement for this will show our aloha spirit for the passengers, crew and the captains."

On Sunday, the festivities are scheduled to start at 7:30 a.m. at Pier 2-B, when the band will welcome in the Queen Elizabeth 2 liner, which can carry 1,850 passengers. The band moves to Pier 9 at 8 a.m. to greet the Vistafjord; and at 2 p.m. plays music at Piers 10-11 for passengers on the Maxim Gorky ship. At 6 p.m., the band will be at Piers 19-20 to say aloha to the Crystal Symphony as the ship leaves Honolulu.

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