In a statement Wednesday night, the Hawaii Department of Transportation said the Norwegian Jewel, a Norwegian Cruise Line ship, and the Maasdam, a Holland America Line ship, would be allowed to refuel and get more supplies at Honolulu Harbor but would not be permitted to let passengers off as intended. The state said the Maasdam is carrying about 850 passengers and the Norwegian Jewel has about 1,700; neither ship has any cases of the virus on board, according to the operators.
The Maasdam is scheduled to arrive in Honolulu on Friday morning, local time. The Norwegian Jewel was expected to get there Sunday after destinations including New Zealand and Fiji turned it away, forcing the ship to scramble for a new destination.
“The health and safety of all people in Hawaii is always at the forefront of operational decisions,” said Jade Butay, director of the state’s transportation department, in the statement. “Presently, all state resources are focused and directed towards containing the spread of covid-19. Allowing more than 2,500 passengers and crew to disembark will further strain these resources.”
He said both ships would “carry on to mainland destinations, where more resources can be marshaled to handle the passengers and crew properly.”
Holland America Line, owned by Carnival Corp., did not immediately say what its next move would be. The cruise line has also been trying to find an open port for another vessel, the Zaandam, which was not allowed to let passengers off in Chile.
Norwegian Cruise Line said the Jewel, which was on a 23-day cruise of Australia and French Polynesia, had originally changed its itinerary to let passengers disembark in New Zealand on Friday. It did not provide an update on plans.
“Due to multiple port closures in the area, further modifications were made,” the operator said in a statement Thursday morning. “We will share an update as it becomes available.”
Hawaii’s decision to deny the cruise lines’ requests to let passengers and crew disembark came after the governor announced efforts to slow the spread of the virus, including asking tourists to postpone trips there for at least a month.
Cruise lines around the world have suspended operations until early April at least amid the fast spread of coronavirus. Several ships have carried passengers who tested positive, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said recently that anyone who has taken a cruise in the past 14 days should stay home and isolate themselves for two weeks after disembarking.