The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) Harbors and Airports Divisions, state officials and the Norwegian Cruise Line leadership have implemented the plan allowing all 2,000 passengers of the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship to leave the state and travel home. The passengers were screened while leaving the ship, boarded chartered buses which took them to the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) where they boarded chartered planes out of state. The ship experienced propulsion problems that require evaluation and repairs which has prompted the change.
“My focus is about keeping everyone safe, from our community to people in distress like the passengers on the Norwegian Jewel. We are happy to assist in these dynamic and challenging times,” said Governor Ige. “I would like to thank NCL and the HDOT for its partnership and work chartering buses and flights and ensuring everyone stays safe and gets home.”
“Due to the mechanical issues on the ship the passengers had to be allowed off the vessel. Coordinating transportation and chartered flights for 2,000 people from around the world required confirming logistical details throughout various federal, state and private agencies,” said Director Jade Butay, Hawaii Department of Transportation.
There are no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 associated with the Norwegian Jewel. Passengers embarked on February 28 in Sydney, Australia and were last able to disembark in Fiji on March 11.
All passengers are screened by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents per its agency protocols. In addition, they had an enhanced medical screening, including a temperature reading, medical questionnaire review and travel history verification. Medical doctors and paramedics were on scene to provide additional evaluation to any passengers who may appear symptomatic.
Asymptomatic passengers proceeded directly from the vessel onto a chartered bus that took them to the HNL south ramp, where they boarded chartered flights. Throughout the entire process, they were completely separated from other travelers not associated with the cruise ship.
The chartered flights by Norwegian Cruise Line flew to Los Angeles, California; Vancouver, Canada; Sydney, Australia; London, England; and Frankfurt, Germany. Additional flights may be scheduled.
The ship arrived at Honolulu Harbor the afternoon of Sunday, March 22. The disembarkation process began Monday morning, March 23 and will continue through Tuesday, March 23. The passengers scheduled to leave on Tuesday will stay on the ship overnight.
After undergoing the screening process, Hawaii residents were shuttled from the harbor directly to their residence, where they will begin a 14 day self-quarantine period. Neighbor island residents will be flown on a chartered flight to their home airport. There are 25 Hawaii residents on the ship, with 13 from Oahu, eight from Maui, three from the Big Island and one from Kauai.
The approximately 1,000 crewmembers will stay on the ship until further notice.
The public should be aware of the U.S. Department of State global level 4 health advisory stating U.S. citizens should avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.
Cruise ships are on a 30-day pause in operations that took effect March 14, 2020. The Norwegian Jewel was already underway and had not planned to travel to the United States.
There are 16 cruise ships that have canceled scheduled visits to Hawaii during the 30 day suspension in operations.