Hawaii News

DLNR finalizing investigation into cruise ships reported close to Na Pali Coast

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The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says it’s awaiting a final report following its investigation into two cruise ships that came too close to the shore of the Na Pali Coast earlier this month. 

  • The Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Edge was seen getting close to the Na Pali Coast on May 1. (Image submitted anonymously)
  • An aerial view of the Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Edge close to the shore of the Na Pali Coast on May 1. (Photo submitted anonymously)

On May 1, social media images and videos began circulating of the Royal Caribbean’s over 1,000-foot-long ship, the Celebrity Edge,  anchored in allegedly 43 feet of water near the shoreline. A second Royal Caribbean ship, the Ovation of the Seas, was also sighted close to the coast that same day. 

The incident prompted concerns from local residents, including Sam Martin, a captain with local boat tour company Na Pali Catamaran.

 In a recent interview with Kauaʻi Now, Martin said he had not seen anything like it in the 20 years he’s worked on the coast. “That’s a sacred area. One of the most sacred areas in the world,” he said. 

“There are rules that you gotta abide by, and we all have rules … You should know better than to be bringing your boat into the shoreline that close,” Martin said, noting potential environmental impacts caused by the ship. 

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Kalani Ka’anā’anā, the chief stewardship officer of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, thanked residents of Kauaʻi for alerting public officials of the issue. 

“It’s because of their vigilance that we were made aware of these incidents,” he said in an interview with Kauaʻi Now.

According to Hawai’i state regulations, a commercial vessel able to hold 50 or more passengers is required to keep a distance of at least 3,000 feet from the shore. 

However, Ka’anā’anā declined to provide details of the incident or the possible penalties for the cruise line, saying the agency is not in the place to speak about what occurred. “But what I think is important and what I want to impress upon cruise operators, is that we expect them to follow all local laws and rules. It’s an important part of their operations,” he said. 

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Ka’anā’anā noted that The DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement is currently investigating the incident. 

DLNR Communications Manager Dan Dennison said the department has no comment due to the ongoing investigation. 

According to an email response sent by Dennison on Tuesday, May 14, the DLNR is currently awaiting final reports to come in and the investigation is expected to be finalized this week. 

Although the investigation has not yet concluded, Ka’anā’anā said the incident has prompted the HTA to place an emphasis on educating cruise lines about ecological and cultural sensitivities at its annual workshop, which will be held later this year. 

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“We will respect the process of the investigation by DLNR. And respect its findings. But again, I think we just really want to impress upon cruise operators, the cultural and ecological sensitivity of Na Pali, and Kaua’i and Hawaiʻi in general,” he said. 

“Our commitment is to work with them, and educate them about that sensitivity.” 

Emma Grunwald
Emma Grunwald is a reporter for Kauaʻi Now. You can reach her at [email protected].
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