Coronavirus means Hawaii may not see cruise traffic until 2021

Cruises have been among hardest hit in the COVID-19 outbreak

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Hawaii may not see any cruise traffic until the second half of 2021.

That’s according to a report issued by the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, in which officials paint a grim post-coronavirus picture.

“No cruise visitors until [the] second half of 2021,” the report noted, adding that it could take six years for visitor arrivals to recover to the 2019 level based on the 2009 Great Recession pace.

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One big brand that could take a hit is Norwegian Cruise Line. The operator had run a dedicated year-round ship, the Pride of America, which President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Del Rio called the highest-yielding vehicle in the company's fleet in 2017.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
NCLH NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE HOLDINGS LTD. 30.97 -0.71 -2.24%
RCL ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES 86.39 -2.17 -2.45%

Shares of the company were up 7 percent Wednesday afternoon but have tanked 68 percent on the year. It’s a similar story for other top operators, like Royal Caribbean Cruises, whose shares were also up 7 percent Wednesday but down 56 percent on the year.

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The cruise industry has been among the hardest hit in the COVID-19 outbreak, as many Americans avoid travel to prevent the spread of the virus. The $45 billion industry dropped more than 80 percent in cruise line shares since the beginning of the pandemic, per Forbes.

According to the report, Hawaii expects to take in roughly 3.4 million visitors in 2020, a stark number but still a sizable decrease of 67.5 percent from 2019. Visitor arrivals will increase to 6.2 million in 2021, hit 8.3 million in 2022, and tick to 9.4 million in 2023.

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Under this forecast, visitor arrivals will not reach the 2019 level until 2025.

While top cruise lines may not resume travel until August, at least one brand is looking to get back on the water by the end of June. American Cruise Lines, according to a report in Cruise Industry News, plans to have two ships back in service at 75 percent capacity.

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