Cruises skip
Molokai stops

Two cruise lines will meet
with residents over
their concerns

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> Two cruise lines have postponed making stops at Molokai at least until they meet with residents about environmental issues.

Holland America Line Inc. and Princess Cruises said yesterday they have delayed inauguration of their Molokai visits at least until next winter.

The decision follows a letter sent by state House and Senate transportation chairmen, asking the cruise lines to voluntarily cancel their scheduled calls on the Friendly Isle.

The Molokai group Hui Ho'opakele Aina, fearing adverse impact on the reefs and island public facilities, has been organizing opposition against the cruise arrivals.

State Rep. Joseph Souki and state Sen. Cal Kawamoto said they felt the cruise lines should meet with leaders and residents on Molokai to discuss issues, including the effect of the arrivals on the reef and health of the island.

Holland America's ship Statendam had planned to have its first visit on April 15, followed by its ship Amsterdam on April 18.

With the April cancellations, the next scheduled call for both cruise lines will be next winter.

Souki said no date has been set for the meeting, but it is likely to be held in the summer after the state legislative session.

Holland America spokesman John Shively said in a letter yesterday that the cruise line is willing to honor Souki and Kawamoto's request, even though "we believe that such a decision will disappoint our passengers and also disappoint many on Molokai."

"However, it is clear to us that many people on Molokai still have questions about the visit," Shively said.

"We believe that those questions can be addressed, but we agree with you that they cannot be addressed without bringing appropriate members of our company and appropriate government officials to Molokai to meet with the local people."

Shively said that Holland America has had meetings with members of the Molokai community who supported bringing cruise passengers to the Friendly Isle.

Souki said he was happy with the response from the cruise lines and looks forward to company officials explaining their environmental practices aboard their ships. He said that if the majority of people at the Molokai meeting opposed cruise ship arrivals, he would be opposed to the ships stopping at Molokai.

But Souki said the opposition cannot come from the same minority of people on Molokai.

Barbara Haliniak, president of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce, said while her group supports the cruise ships because they would help to build commerce, she is in favor of holding a community meeting.

"The bottom line is, because this is a small island, I think it's important that people living on the island get a chance to hear from both sides and form an opinion," she said.

Isaac Moriwake, an Earthjustice attorney representing Hui Ho'opakele, said the group was glad Souki and Kawamoto understood the importance of cruise line officials having a meeting with the community.

But Moriwake said his clients were disappointed that Souki and Kawamoto chose to kill legislative bills this year that would regulate discharges by the cruise line industry in Hawaii.

"In terms of common sense and good manners, that's something that should have been done at the outset," Moriwake said.

Moriwake said he hoped the cruise officials will pay attention to the opinions expressed at the meeting. "Is this just something to make them look good, even though the community doesn't want it?"

Maui Circuit Judge Shackley Raffetto denied on Feb. 5 the group's request for a preliminary injunction to halt the cruise visits to Molokai.

Since late December the first two scheduled Molokai cruise ship visits were canceled -- one because of bad ocean conditions, the second when the ship was diverted to aid in a rescue.

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