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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:26 p.m., Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Ship mishap may delay cruises

By Kelly Yamanouchi
Advertiser Staff Writer

Norwegian Cruise Line's new ship Pride of America partially sank during a storm in Germany today, leaving Hawai'i tourism officials and cruise line employees worried that the damage could delay the start of the ship's cruises around the Islands in July.
The scaffolded cruise liner Pride of America lists at a pier in Bremerhaven, Germany, today after it took on water during a heavy storm. The ship had been scheduled to begin service in Hawai'i in July.

Associated Press

The ship, Norwegian's first for U.S.-staffed interisland cruises, was submerged up to its third deck and listed about 15 degrees. The ship is now secure, resting on the bottom at the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany, where it is being built, according to Norwegian.

Norwegian had no immediate answers on whether the ship will be ready for its inaugural Hawai'i cruise. The shipyard is scheduled to complete the vessel and deliver it to Norwegian in late April.

"Right now we know of no potential delay in the delivery. We don't know," said Norwegian spokeswoman Susan Robison. The shipyard needs several days to assess the damage, she said.

The ship must be refloated before Lloyd Werft can determine whether delivery will be delayed, Norwegian said. The shipyard hopes to refloat it within days.

News reports said the ship took on water during the storm, tilted and sent a construction crane crashing into a building, slightly injuring three workers.

The Pride of America's first seven-day cruise on July 4 would mark the restart of U.S.-flag cruises in Hawai'i and is creating employment for thousands of U.S. workers, including many from the Islands. Norwegian plans to employ nearly 1,000 Americans aboard the ship and already has hired hundreds, who have been undergoing training.

"Hopefully the damage to the vessel is not extensive enough to delay its inaugural voyages here in Hawai'i," said Marsha Wienert, Gov. Linda Lingle’s tourism liaison.

Robison said Norwegian is saying it needs more information before any changes to cruise schedules or jobs are made, but meanwhile employees will continue to be trained.

Dawnann Cabiles, hired by Norwegian and scheduled to leave for Germany Jan. 31 to help prepare the ship, is worried.

"I just don't know what I'm going to do," Cabiles said. "I don't know if I should go look for a job or I'll just wait to hear for them."

She has been counting on starting work soon. After being selected by Norwegian last year, she trained aboard the Norwegian Star but has been without a paycheck since November.

At Cabiles' home in Pearl City, "things are getting tight," she said. "I'm really sad. I hope it's just a setback and they get things fixed."

The Pride of America would join a Norwegian-flagged ship that cruises around Hawai'i but which must stop at Fanning Island. A second U.S.-flag ship, the Pride of Aloha, is to begin cruises in October.

Construction of the Pride of America began in a Mississippi shipyard for American Classic Voyages' Hawai'i cruises, but the company went bankrupt and Norwegian bought the partly built ship and secured a federal exemption allowing it register as American ships three foreign-built vessels, including the Pride of America.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.