Lanai readies the welcome mat for cruise ship guests

With 458 passengers, the Seabourn Sojourn is the largest cruise liner to call on island

The 458-passenger Seabourn Sojourn will be making a call to Lanai on Monday. It will be the largest cruise liner to ever visit the island. The ocean liner will anchor off Manele Bay and tender passengers ashore. Seabourn Cruise Line photo

The 458-passenger cruise ship Seabourn Sojourn will be making a call at Lanai on Monday in what residents say is the largest ocean liner to bring tourists to the island.

The Sojourn is scheduled to anchor off Lanai on Monday, arriving at 8 a.m. and departing at 5 p.m., Irene Lui Sander, a spokeswoman for Seabourn, said Tuesday. The vessel will anchor in Manele Bay and tender passengers ashore.

The Sojourn departed Los Angeles on Oct. 14 on a 32-day cruise to the South Pacific and Hawaii and will return to Los Angeles on Nov. 15, she said. The vessel is scheduled to make a Maui call Wednesday.

Seabourn cruise ships have been visiting Maui since 2012, Sander said. A Seabourn vessel will be returning to Lanai in October 2018.

The Sojourn, a 32,000-ton vessel whose maiden voyage was in June 2010, is a smaller cruise liner when compared to the 108,977-ton, 2,600-guest Princess Cruises Star Princess, which will be visiting Lahaina on Nov. 17.

But for Lanai, the Sojourn will be plenty big and is the largest cruise ship to visit the island in its history, said Lanai resident Mikala Enfield.

Kathy and Mike Carroll, who own Mike Carroll Gallery on Lanai, said that the only cruise ship to visit regularly is the 36-passenger Safari Explorer during the winter months. Lanai doesn’t have a large enough harbor to handle Star Princess-size liners, they added.

The smaller Sojourn actually might be a better fit for the island and its businesses. The 300 people estimated to visit Lanai won’t be coming all at once; “it will be paced” and “very manageable,” said Kathy Carroll said. Tenders will bring in groups of visitors at a time.

The day visit will give a boost to small businesses like the Carrolls’ art gallery, which normally sees 10 to 20 people a day. “Three hundred people by Maui standards is nothing, it’s a drop in the bucket,” said Kathy Carroll.

Not so on Lanai.

“For small mom-and-pop businesses like ours, it’s a big deal,” she said, noting that many of the island’s small business are congregated in a square near Dole Park. “For Lanai, it is a good thing for the small businesses . . . that are working hard day to day to make a living.”

In addition to shopping, visitors will be doing other activities like playing golf or taking a ride on a utility terrain vehicle, said Mike Carroll. His wife said that visitors to the town generally are taken by the history of the island and its former pineapple plantation era and the “small town vibe” that remains today.

“We are really excited about it,” Kathy Carroll said of the Sojourn’s visit.

Seabourn Cruise Line was founded in 1987 by Norwegian industrialist Atle Brynestad and, through the years, has been part of Carnival Corp. and Cunard Line. Seabourn was reorganized as a stand-alone company headquartered in Miami in 2004 and relocated its headquarters to Seattle in 2011.

The cruise ship business is helping to drive tourism growth throughout the state. The latest tourism report from the Hawai’i Tourism Authority for the first nine months of the year showed a 23.2 percent increase in cruise ship visitors compared to a year earlier. The report said that 86,081 cruise ship passengers visited Hawaii from January to September.

Hawai’i Tourism Authority data for the first nine months show more than 300 cruise ship visitors to Lanai. But Leanne Pletcher, director of public relations & marketing for the Maui Visitors Bureau, said that those visitors came from cruise ships anchored off Lahaina.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.


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