Originally Posted by You
Does anyone think Celebrity will ever go back to Hawaii?
Yes. The question is when. Unfortunately the answer may be some time after Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) leaves office or some time after current management retires and new management takes over. It appears that Celebrity withdrew from cruises to Hawai'i because
Senator Daniel Inouye, long a supporter of tourism to the 50th state, introdoced a bill in the Senate that would have amended the Passenger Services Act to require ships that are not of U. S. flag to stay foreign ports for more than 24 hours when operating itineraries round trip from U. S. ports in a seriously misguided effort to shield Norwegian Cruise Line's "NCL America" operation from perceived competition.
By way of background, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) established the "NCL America" unit to fill the perceived vaccuum created by the demise of American Hawai'i Line due to the bankruptcy of its parent, American Classic Voyages, which also owned Delta Queen Steamboat Company. NCL struck up a deal with Senator Inouye to operate seven night cruises on vessels of U. S. flag under the "NCL America" brand in exchange for certain accommodations, which were relatively minor. Alas, the NCL America fleet, originally planned to grow to three vessels, had dwindled to one due to lack of demand for the NCL America product. NCL attributed this to competition from other cruise lines, including Celebrity Cruises, which were operating two week cruises to Hawai'i from the ports of San Diego and Los Angeles. Since NCL had supported Senator Inouye's efforts to maintain seven-night cruises operating round trip from Hawai'i's ports, Senator Inouye introduced and backed the offending legislation as a favor to NCL.
Celebrity's response was immediate, cancelling all scheduled cruises to Hawai'i and a season of cruises to Australia and New Zealand (for which the ship would have called in Hawai'i while repositioning in both directions) as well. I think that this was partially precautionary (the line would have had to reposition the ships much later in the booking cycle if the line were to wait until the offending bill became law), partly to demonstrate that Celebrity's cruises had minimal effect on the NCL America business, and partly to demonstrate to Senator Inouye that playing favorites among cruise lines is counterproductive if one wants to bring tourists to the islands.
That said, Celebrity's press release announcing the withdrawal of Australia and New Zealand itineraries -- which also coincided with the transfer of MV Galaxy
from the Celebrity Cruises fleet -- stated that the company planned to expand in the Pacific when the fleet expands sufficiently to support the additional destinations with the launch of the new vessels of the Solstice
(now Celebrity Solstice
) class. Of course, the dynamics of either the political situation here in the States or the current global economic situation may have caused the line's executives to alter those plans.
I hope to find out more about this at the stockholders' meeting later this month. If you own shares of the company, stockholders' meetings are an opportunity to ask questions of the company's top executives in person, in an environment where they really cannot evade them.