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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, December 7, 2003

Ripple effects from Norwegian cruises start to reach shore

 •  Cruise line finds hiring slow going in Hawai'i

By Kelly Yamanouchi
Advertiser Staff Writer

Some businesses will start to reap the benefits of the growth in the cruise industry next year as they prepare for more business from Norwegian Cruise Line's expansion in the Islands.

Norwegian is talking with the companies it already works with and potential new partners to buy everything from flowers, produce and meat to hotel rooms, shore tours and housekeeping services.

Norwegian, for example, plans to start serving Kona coffee on its ships, said Alvin Dennis, cruise line vice president of purchasing. The company is in discussions with coffee producers.

"The moment I brought (Kona coffee) in" to other Norwegian officials, "they said yes," Dennis said.

The estimated benefits of Norwegian's three U.S. flag ships in Hawai'i by 2007 include 10,200 jobs and $270.6 million in wages and salaries annually. Of the 10,200 jobs, 3,000 will be aboard Norwegian's ships and the rest are onshore jobs, including work generated by businesses serving the ships and their passengers.

"There are an awful lot of people" the company does business with, said Norwegian's senior vice president Robert Kritzman.

Norwegian has struck deals for blocks of hotel rooms at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort, Sheraton Moana Surfrider, Kona Hilton Waikoloa Village and Sheraton Maui.

All of the hotels will get customers staying in Hawai'i before or after their three- or four-day cruises on the Pride of Aloha that launches in October 2004. The first of Norwegian's U.S.-flagged ships will cruise within the Hawaiian Islands and, because of a federal exemption, won't be required to make a stop at a foreign port .

Tour operators like Doug Arnott, who owns Arnott's Lodge and Hiking Adventures, expect a significant boost from cruise passengers' spending.

Arnott expects the number of visitors he takes on weekly tours from Norwegian cruise ships to increase from 80 to 200 a week. He's buying new vans to accommodate the increase in business.

"It has an immense impact that ripples around the local economy," Arnott said. "People get paid; money goes out to the community. You look at Wal-mart — the parking lot's full after the ship has left."

Monty Pereira, sales and marketing director at Watanabe Floral Inc., sells 20,000 loose orchids to Norwegian each week.

"It's steady business," Pereira said. "We look forward to when they have three or four ships here in the next couple of years."

Reach Kelly Yamanouchi at 535-2470, or at kyamanouchi@honoluluadvertiser.com.