Pride of Hawaii Christened

Amid much fanfare and celebration, the Seafarers-crewed Pride of Hawaii—the largest and most luxurious U.S.-flagged passenger ship ever built—was christened May 20 at a pierside ceremony in the port of Los Angeles by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). Inouye, who was selected as the first-ever “godfather” of a contemporary cruise ship, “is the father of this project and its most steadfast supporter,” stated NCL America President and CEO Colin Veitch in announcing the selection earlier this year, “and the introduction of the Pride of Hawaii is its crowning event. So there can be no one more fitting than he to name our newest U.S. flagship.” (The senator’s wife, Margaret, who passed away earlier in the year, christened the Pride of Aloha in 2004.) “The christening of Pride of Hawaii is the capstone of America’s return to the passenger cruise industry,” noted the senator at the official ceremony. “In addition to the significant economic benefits to the visitor industry in my state of Hawaii, Pride of Hawaii and her sister ships will have a broad economic impact throughout the United States by creating as many as 20,400 direct and indirect jobs, including thousands of U.S. seafarer jobs and nearly $1 billion in annual U.S. economic activity. I am very proud to serve as Pride of Hawaii’s sponsor.” Inouye was joined by six female crew members from the vessel—all Hawaiian natives—who christened the ship with the traditional bottle of champagne. In addition to Veitch and Inouye, also addressing the audience were Star Cruises Chairman Tan Sri Lim Lok Thay; U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Paul Wiedenhoeft; Julie Nelson, Acting Deputy Maritime Administrator and Chief Counsel of the Maritime Administration; and SIU President Michael Sacco. “What a great day for the American-flag cruise ship industry,” Sacco stated. “We are proud to be here today with NCL America to celebrate this historic event. These U.S.-flag cruise ships create thousands of American seafaring jobs and represent a real partnership between NCL America, the shipboard workers and their unions.” Sacco congratulated NCL America for its confidence, commitment and partnership in the cruise ship project. “Most of all,” he continued, “I want to thank Senator Inouye and the entire Hawaii delegation for their strong leadership and their complete support of the NCL America fleet. In particular, Senator Inouye has been an extraordinary ally and a determined, powerful voice in leading the effort to deliver the Pride of Hawaii along with the Pride of America and the Pride of Aloha….Like Colin (Veitch) has said, Senator Inouye truly is the father of this project.” Sacco stated, “You all see the results: New ships. New Jobs. A boost to the United States economy. Brothers and sisters, I’d call that a win-win situation.” In concluding his remarks, Sacco said, “Last but not least, I want to offer a special welcome to the union members who are working aboard the Pride of Hawaii. That goes for the members of my union—the Seafarers—as well as the officers from the MEBA. Brothers and sisters, keep up the great work. Aloha!” Tan Sri Lim Lok Thay said, “Today marks the culmination of our effort. This is the third and largest ship in a planned three-ship U.S.-flagged fleet. We have invested over $1.2 billion building these three world-class mega ships, purposely built for our unique Freestyle Cruising and outfitted to reflect the spirit and Aloha of the Hawaii Islands.” Veitch added his pride in honoring the development of the latest SIU-crewed vessel. “I’m very proud to celebrate the completion of a daring project to convert a large part of our business from the traditional model of the international cruise industry to the much more challenging and less developed model of U.S-flag cruising,” he said, noting that NCL has consistently been at the forefront of innovative developments and breaking with tradition. Bosun Victor Mariano signed aboard the ship in March when it was still being completed in Germany. Mariano has sailed with the SIU for 15 years, including voyages on the old cruise ships, the Independence and Constitution. He found sailing on a brand new cruise ship a totally different experience, even though most of the initial work consisted of cleaning and maintenance. “Things are going pretty well. We’ve been very busy,” he noted. Carpenter Scott Paxton agreed that the crew had been extremely busy getting the vessel ready for its debut as the newest U.S.-flag cruise ship, but said that spirits were good and everyone was doing their part. The voyage has been a “dream come true” for Colette DiMarco, a waiter from Glenwood Springs, Colo. “Not only was I being paid to learn [in Piney Point], but I’ll also be spending my birthday traversing the Panama Canal. How exciting is that!” she exclaimed in late April, when the ship stopped in Baltimore, its first U.S. port following the transatlantic voyage from Europe. After a week in Baltimore, the Pride of Hawaii set sail for Miami (NCL headquarters), through the Panama Canal, and on to San Francisco and Los Angeles for the christening. Its first port of call in Hawaii (at LOG press time) was scheduled for Nawiliwili, Kauai and then on to Hilo, Kahului and Kona before arriving in Honolulu June 3. The vessel is expected to enter service Monday, June 5, where it will join its SIU-crewed sister ships, the Pride of Aloha (which began sailing in 2004) and the Pride of America (christened last summer) in offering seven-day interisland cruises. ###

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