Hawaii signs new cruise travel agreements

Honolulu Harbor

The cruise industry is returning to Hawaii this year, for the first time since the pandemic began two years ago. The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) Harbors Division has announced that it has executed the first port agreements with Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) to formalize health and safety protocols for cruise line operations in the State of Hawaii.

Per the CDC order expiring on January 15, (copy available at https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/cruise/covid19-cruiseships.html) cruise lines with capacity to carry more than 250 persons (combined passenger and crew) and itineraries including overnight stays are required to have a formal port agreement with local port and health authorities. The port agreement must include a medical agreement outlining evacuation of passengers or crew in need of care; a housing agreement should quarantine, or isolation of passengers or crew be needed, and acknowledgement of the public health response resources of the local jurisdictions and vaccination strategies implemented by the cruise lines to minimize risk of spread of COVID-19.

The CDC order requires each ship to have on-board testing and medical staff to ensure proper prevention, mitigation, and response protocols and training.

Additionally, Carnival and NCL have committed to full vaccination rates in addition to pre-board testing and onboard safety and cleaning protocols.

In addition to the cruise line and CDC requirements, the State of Hawaii will be requiring participation in the State’s Safe Travels digital platform to upload proof of vaccination or negative test results for cruise lines arriving in Hawaii from outside the state. Safe Travels participation will not apply to cruise lines sailing inter-island.

The signed port agreements will apply until superseded by a new agreement regardless of expiration of the CDC order. The agreement also allows the State to suspend, rescind, or amend the document at any time in case of changing situations. Counties may also implement additional restrictions at any time.

“Developing these agreements with the goal of reducing potential negative impacts of cruise travel on our local health resources couldn’t have happened without invaluable guidance from the Governor’s Office, the Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention (CDC), the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), the Hawaii Department of Defense (DOD), the Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS), and county agencies,” said Hawaii Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay.

“We appreciate everyone, including the cruise line representatives, coming together to finalize the required agreements to fulfill the CDC Conditional Sailing Order.”