April 17, 2002
It’s been a big month for heroics on NCL’s Norwegian Star. The ship, the only major cruise ship to sail regular roundtrips out of Honolulu, was involved in the second rescue effort in so many weeks when a passenger aboard a private yacht needed emergency medical treatment. Star’s officers were contacted by the U.S. Coast Guard when a man, one of two passengers aboard the 36-ft. sailboat S/Y Gods Grace, was taken ill in the middle of the Pacific. Star, on the way to its required weekly touch-down at foreign port Fanning Island, was the nearest option. The ship detoured 60 miles out of the way, picked up the ill sailor, and treated him in the ship’s infirmary. Unfortunately, his condition worsened and ultimately Norwegian Star headed back to the Hawaiian islands, where it would be in helicopter-range for an evacuation effort. Like the earlier rescue effort this month, Norwegian Star missed its all-important call at Fanning Island but we assume that ready and willing volunteer efforts on behalf of the U.S. Coast Guard will eliminate any niggling over that violation. Speaking of Hawaii -- and NCL -- a new tax being imposed on all roundtrip sailings from that state (which basically consists of NCL’s Star) is causing no small amount of heartburn, not to mention wallet-burn, to passengers slated to sail on Norwegian Star. The tax, a relatively new one, is imposed by the state. Hawaii calls it a Public Service Company tax (it’s not a port tax) and amounts to a payment of 2.4 percent of the cruise fare. This is being assessed on all passengers from this point forward, irregardless of when that cruise ticket was purchased -- so travelers are being required to ante up a little more cash, even if their trip is already paid for -- and will be passed along from whichever outlet the cruise passenger purchased his fare.