Princess Cruises has notified guests currently sailing aboard Emerald Princess en route to Hawaii that the ship’s scheduled call to Maui has been cancelled, and instead, the ship will be visiting an alternate port on the Big Island.
The western region of Maui, including Lahaina, where Emerald Princess was to have visited, has been devastated by wildfires in recent days.
Princess Cruises‘ Grand-class Emerald Princess is currently sailing a 16-night Hawaiian Islands cruise that departed Los Angeles on Saturday, August 5, 2023. After five days at sea to reach Hawaii, the ship will be visiting Hilo on Friday, August 11, Honolulu on Saturday, and Kauai on Sunday.
The ship’s final port of call in the Aloha State was to have been Lahaina, on the western coast of the island of Maui, on Monday, August 14. Because of recent wildfires that have caused massive damage and displacement in the region, that call will no longer be possible.
“Our thoughts are with the local community and all those affected by the devastating wildfires in Maui,” a statement from Princess Cruises read. “Given the severity of those fires and their significant strain on local resources, Emerald Princess will cancel her scheduled call to Maui (Lahaina) on Monday, August 14, and will instead call to Kona.”
Kona is located on the Big Island. From there, guests will have more opportunities to explore the beauty of the region with options such as snorkeling, beach breaks, or visiting Volcanoes National Park, a bucket-list experience for many travelers. Exact shore tour available for Monday’s visit have not been announced, but the cruise line’s shore excursions team is working on options.
“As we continue to monitor the situation, we are actively reviewing the itineraries of our upcoming voyages. If any adjustments need to be made to our published itineraries, we will advise guests and our Travel Advisor partners,” Princess Cruises added.
Wildfires on Maui, especially in the vicinity of Lahaina, have raged uncontrollably for several days, fueled in part by strong wind gusts from Hurricane Dora south of the island chain. The resulting damage is extreme with at least 36 fatalities reported. Officials are calling this the deadliest fire in the state’s history.
Local authorities have reported more than 270 buildings destroyed, many of which are in Lahaina. The historic downtown Front Street, a hub for visitor shopping and dining, has been decimated, as have many local homes and the waterfront area. Multiple shelters have been opened to provide relief to those impacted.
The beloved banyan tree – planted in 1873 and the oldest living tree on the island – with its sprawling limbs crossing a full city block and more than 60-foot height has also been scorched. It is unknown whether or not the tree can recover, which will depend on the extent of the damage to its root system.
During the height of the fire, local hospitals were overwhelmed and more than 11,000 people evacuated the island. The state’s acting governor, Sylvia Luke, has urged people not to travel to Maui at this time, as local resources are already strained.
Mass bus evacuations have been organized to bring people out of the devastated area. “This is not a safe place to be,” she said.
Cell service and electricity are also impacted, with thousands of residents without service. Water conservation measures are also being encouraged.
While mid-summer is the slow season for Hawaii cruises, several ships do still visit the islands. Emerald Princess is the only vessel scheduled to visit Lahaina this month, with Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice scheduled for September 30.
In October, a dozen cruise ship visits have been planned for Lahaina, with vessels from Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, and Seabourn Cruises all expected to visit.
Whether or not those visits will move forward as planned will depend on recovery efforts. While Lahaina will not look the same as past cruise guests may remember, it is likely the town will rebuild and preserve what can be preserved.
It should be noted that Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America, which operates 7-night inter-island Hawaii cruises year-round, does not call on Lahaina.
Guests who have cruises to Hawaii planned in the coming weeks will want to remain in close contact with their cruise line for updates and possible itinerary alterations.
Anyone interested in donating to help those impacted by the wildfires should contact the Hawaii Community Foundation, Maui United Way, the Maui Food Bank, or other local organizations pledged to provide relief and assistance.
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