Grand Princess became the first cruise ship to dock with guests in Hawaii since the start of the pandemic two years ago. The vessel arrived on Sunday, January 9, and docked at pier 2 in Honolulu. Despite some concerns about Omicron and how the vessel would fare on such a long trip, the locals warmly welcomed Grand Princess.
The Princess cruise ship departed from Los Angeles on January 4 and will spend several days exploring the archipelago’s islands and coastline. Grand Princess is the first of several vessels slated to return to Hawaii in the upcoming weeks and months.
Grand Princess Brings Guests to Hawaii
Carrying a total of 1,188 guests and 915 crew members, Grand Princess sailed into the port of Honolulu on the morning of January 9, 2022. It has been two years since the last cruise ship sailed to Hawaii. While there have been concerns amongst the local population about the return of cruising, the cruise line and the local health authorities have ensured all bases are covered.
The Hawaii State Department of Transportation (HDOT) Public Information Officer Jai Cunningham said the cruise lines and the state’s agreements, which were finalized recently, require a minimum of 99% of passengers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19:
“These cruise lines realize it’s been 22 months since they’ve been up and running in Hawaiian waters,” Cunningham explained. “They’re very serious about this, and they don’t want to misstep in this because they know that the ball’s in our court. The fact that people were saying that they’ll just be able to get off the boat without testing, absolutely not true. It is not true, they will be tested, or they will have been vaccinated and show their documentation to prove that.”
Strict Protocols and Happy Guests
Some of the guests who were lucky enough to be onboard the first cruise to the Pacific island archipelago noted how happy they were to be able to come back to Hawaii:
“We come every year to see our beautiful whales, enjoy the people, and the food and the sites. We have missed you all terribly,” said Peggy Casper, a passenger on the Grand Princess. Other passengers noted the strict measures that have been implemented to keep locals and guests aboard as safe as possible, Loren Micalizio: “We wear masks all the time. It’s not ideal. It’s not the way you want to vacation. But in order to vacation, it is worth it to keep us all safe.”
“We have got about half a full ship. Everything is going well. I think everyone is healthy. We have all been swabbed. So, I think people living here don’t have to be concerned about us bringing the disease over here,” said Joann Monroe from Los Angeles.
Grand Princess departed from Honolulu late in the evening of January 9 and set sail to Kauai, Hilo, and her final stop in Maui before crossing to Mexico’s Baja California peninsula for a stop in Ensenada. The cruise will end again on January 19, when Grand Princess returns to Los Angeles.
While Hawaii is not the busiest cruise destination globally, it is a bucket-list destination for many. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, more than 140.000 visitors a year come to Hawaii, contributing more than $58 million in direct spending.
In the upcoming weeks and months, more cruise ships will start calling in Hawaii. One of these cruise ships is Carnival Miracle. The ship will sail today, January 9, for a 14-day cruise to the islands from Long Beach, California. Other vessels scheduled to sail to Hawaii are Viking Cruises Viking Orion and Viking Star, Oceania Cruises Insignia, Holland America Line’s Koningsdam, and Ruby Princess.