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HTA, DLNR following up on reports of cruise ships venturing too near Na Pali Coast

Two cruise ships, which are under the Royal Caribbean umbrella, recently came close enough to the North Shore of Kaua‘i that residents asked local authorities to investigate.

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) said it has engaged government authorities and the cruise industry to discuss the incident after images of the ships began circulating on social media.

Social media shows the Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Edge near the Na Pali Coast during a May 1 visit to Kaua‘i. Later that same day, social media imagery shows Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas passing near the coast while on a repositioning sail. Royal Caribbean could not be reached for an immediate comment.

Kalani Ka‘ana‘ana, who transitioned into the role of HTA chief stewardship officer in January as part of HTA’s increasing focus on destination management and stewardship, said the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), which governs Hawai‘i’s near-shore waters, is investigating the incidents.

Hawai‘i Administrative Rules require at least 3,000 feet seaward from shore in the Na Pali Coast ocean waters, and prohibit commercial vessels with a carrying capacity of 50 or more passengers from operating in the area.

Ka‘ana‘ana said HTA has contacted Royal Caribbean along with other cruise operators that visit Hawai‘i to underscore the importance of compliance with all state and local regulations.

“We will let DLNR’s investigation reach its conclusion. But I think for us, we want to impress upon the cruise operators the sensitivity both ecologically and culturally to the Na Pali Coast and the Kaua‘i community, as well as the Hawai‘i community in general,” he said.

Ka‘ana‘ana said HTA is thankful to the community members who reached out to share concerns about the cruise ships. He said community members who believe that a boat or ship is operating inappropriately are encouraged to call 808-643-DLNR (3567).

Ka‘ana‘ana said HTA is preparing to hold culture and ecology sensitivity training, perhaps in August, with all of the cruise lines that operate in Hawai‘i and the port agents.

Ka‘ana‘ana said HTA also will share the concerns about cruise ships that were outlined in the Destination Management Action Plans — the resident-driven plans advising HTA how they want to manage tourism on each of their islands.
Source: The Garden Island

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