Wednesday, June 16, 2004

BIG FLAP OVER PRIDE: The Stars & Stripes had scarcely been raised over Norwegian Cruise Line’s revamped Pride of Aloha during milestone ceremonies in San Francisco when Monterey's KSBW Channel 8 managed to create an environmental stir. NCL America, the line’s domestic brand, has come back swinging. It disputes notions that the first modern cruise ship to fly a U.S. flag in nearly half a century was in the wrong place at prime time during this month’s flag-raising. Broadcast aside, NCL says two onboard Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and San Francisco Bar Pilot Hugh Cannon (aboard to ensure proper anchorage) confirm that the 2,000-passenger vessel was in a designated cruise ship anchorage. More specifically, NCL says Monterey Harbor Master Steve Schleibleuer confirms that the ship was at Anchorage A. That bit of news was not included in the offending broadcast, NCL says, noting the TV station had relied on use of onshore lasers and GPS. To avoid harming the marine sanctuary, NCL America enlisted Cannon (whose Pilot’s association is regulated by the State of California) because of his familiarity with area waters. “Environmental protection is among NCL’s highest priorities,” the line said in a statement. “… NCL’s environmental policies and technologies onboard its ships are among the most stringent in the industry and exceed existing laws and international conventions.” The ship – formerly the Bahamian-flagged Norwegian Sky -- just wrapped a multi-million dollar refurbishment for the first company in recent memory to offer inter-island Hawaii cruising aboard a modern U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed megaship. After June’s Pacific Coastal series, the ship homeports in Honolulu for a July 4th christening followed by regular seven-day, year-round Hawaii cruises, calling on four main islands and offering up to 96 hours in port. Included are two overnight stays in Kauai and Maui and full-day calls in Kona and Hilo on the Big Island.

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