Hawaii Extends Ban on Cruise Ships Until at Least January 2022, Officials Announce
Travelers hoping to cruise the gorgeous islands of Hawaii will have to wait a little longer as the state doesn't plan to welcome back ships until at least next year, according to reports.
"Currently, the earliest resumption of cruises to Hawaii would be January of 2022," Jai Cunningham, the public information officer for the Hawaii Department of Transportation, recently told Cruise Critic. "While no firm date is currently set, HDOT, in coordination with the various State, Federal, and Local entities, is focused on the safest possible resumption of cruise."
Hawaii started welcoming back tourists earlier this month, reversing a previous plea by the state's governor asking travelers to put off their vacations amid rising cases throughout the islands. However, the state never officially paused its 'Safe Travels' program, which allows visitors to skip quarantine if they arrive with proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test, deciding instead to keep protocols in place.
Cunningham told Cruise Critic the Safe Travels program would have to be expanded to include those arriving by cruise ship when the ports do eventually open.
A representative for Hawaii's Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Travel + Leisure.
The decision comes as cruises have resumed around the country with varying vaccine and testing mandates in place. It also comes weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended its Conditional Sail Order for ships until Jan. 15, 2022, after which the agency plans to move to a voluntary program.
For its part, Hawaii's continued ban on cruises has directly impacted several cruise lines, including Viking Ocean Cruises and UnCruise Adventures, each of which were forced to cancel itineraries around the state, according to Cruise Critic.
"While restrictions have been eased in most destinations around the world, the impacts of the pandemic continue to make cruise travel particularly complicated in some specific locations," Richard Marnell, Viking's executive vice president, said in a letter to impacted guests, according to the site. "When we developed our Hawaiian Island Sojourn voyage, travel to Hawaii was possible."
But while cruise ships aren't going to be sailing throughout the islands anytime soon, Hawaii recently decided to lift capacity restrictions at bars and restaurants that require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter in Honolulu and Maui ahead of the holiday season.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.