Approved December 3, 1998

Issue. The number and size of large passenger vessels visiting neighbor island ports has increased and continued growth is expected. The coordination and cooperation needed to process a large group of passengers at one port has created a need for a safe operating practice.

Discussion. Historically, the number and size of large cruise ships visiting Hawaii has been manageable. Usually only one cruise ship visited a port per month, with less than 3,000 passengers. Today, we see multiple cruise ships visiting one port with over 2,000 passengers onboard each vessel.

In March 1997, an incident at Lahaina Small Boat Harbor in Maui raised safety concerns regarding limited facilities to handle a large number of passengers from cruise ships. This incident prompted the state Department of Land and Natural Resource’s (DLNR) Boating and Ocean Recreation Division to set a 3,000-passenger limit for cruise ships calling on Lahaina on the same day.

Since then, vessel agents, State DLNR, and the Coast Guard established and successfully tested procedures to coordinate multiple cruise ships visiting Lahaina, Maui on October 20, 1997. This event helped abolish the 3,000-passenger limit.

Recommendation of HOST. Capture the procedures established for the multiple cruise ship visit at Lahaina, Maui in the HOST Safe Operating Practices Handbook.

Resolution. Representatives from industry, state DLNR, local community, vessel agents, the USCG, created and put forth minimum safety standards for passenger vessels using offshore anchorages.

Multiple Cruise Ships Visiting Neighbor Island Ports

The following procedures are designed to insure the safe movement of personnel/passengers to and from multiple cruise ships anchored offshore a single port. The two ports presently receiving multiple cruise ships, Lahaina and Kailua-Kona, have different needs due to their port layout and vessel traffic. Therefore, the below listed guidance lists certain items that are port specific.

Pre-Arrival Planning.

Vessel agents should ensure that the following information is passed to all concerned parties, i.e., Coast Guard, State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Harbor Agents no later than 5 days in advance of the vessels’ arrival.

General Info: Vessel names, lengths, number of passengers/crews
Arrival Schedule: Anchorage time, first tender arrival
Order of Events: Timeline of events; passenger disembarkation/embarkation, agricultural clearance, Customs clearance

The respective DLNR Harbor Agents should meet with the vessels’ Safety or Security Officer, prior to the commencement of tender operations, to discuss all pertinent information, i.e., terminal and vessel security, tendering operations, and communications. Additionally, DLNR Harbor Agents should coordinate vessel anchorage locations for each vessel.

Tendering Operations.

DLNR Harbor Agents should create a diagram to visually capture this operation. Determine a specific water route for tenders to follow, identify a designated landing area, and locate berthing area for tenders. The quality of the landing area is important to the safe passenger movement. The pier height must be adequate for tenders and the pier deck should be nonskid. Tenders must be suitable for passengers. Specific Vessel Traffic Coordinator duties are as follows:

Lahaina. An assigned Harbor Agent or his designee, always under the direction of the Harbor Agent, will serve as Vessel Traffic Coordinator (VTC) and will direct all cruise ship tender traffic and in addition, all local vessel traffic from a known visible location. The VTC will also ensure that tender operators will either reduce their prop wash, or redirect it away from the harbor entrance.

Kailua-Kona. DLNR Harbor Agents should ensure that a Vessel Traffic Coordinator directs the cruise ships’ tender movements. Because this person is only directing the cruise ship tender traffic, he/she may be a cruise ship crewmember. Special consideration should be given to the designated swimming area in directing tendering operations.

Shore side Operations.

DLNR Harbor Agents should coordinate with local police, taxi and bus operators to identify vehicle traffic patterns as needed. Local entities, i.e., Lahaina Town Action Committee, should ensure that a passenger waiting area with sunshade and cold drinks/water is available, as well as, ample sanitary facilities.


DLNR Harbor Agents in Lahaina should designate the channel and frequency in which the Vessel Traffic Coordinator will communicate with the vessel tender operators and/or commercial traffic. Tender call signs should be agreed upon prior to commencing tendering operations. If the tender crew cannot speak English, provisions should be made to use local operators.

Vessel and Terminal Security.

Either a Vessel Security Officer or Vessel Safety Officer and a Terminal Security Officer shall always be present at pier side during the full duration of a cruise ship visit. These two officers are required to meet to ensure that their security plan objectives are met and to ensure that security measures, as required by the Coast Guard in the Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 3-96, are not being breached. For example, the tender boarding area should be designated a “RESTRICTED AREA” with access limited to authorized personnel using temporary barriers.

Shipboard Crewing Requirements.

All cruise ships must be manned, while underway and at anchor, according to their SOLAS Safe Manning Document. This is to insure that sufficient crew is available to respond to unforeseen emergencies while passengers are aboard, i.e., fire, dragging anchor.


DLNR Harbor Agents will coordinate anchorage designations for each visiting vessel. The below listed offshore anchorages may be used.

  Anchorage A Anchorage B Anchorage C
Kailua-Kona 19_ 37′ 51″ N
156_ 00′ 11″ W
19_ 37′ 24″ N
156_ 00′ 01″ W
19_ 38′ 07″ N
156_ 00′ 25″ W
Lahaina, Maui 20_ 52′ 00″ N
156_ 41′ 27″ W
20_ 51′ 25″ N
156_ 41′ 01″ W
20_ 51′ 46″ N
156_ 41′ 07″ W