American Samoa is planning to dedicate the Manu’a islands exclusively to expedition cruise lines, David Vaeafe, executive director of the American Samoa Visitors Bureau, told Cruise Industry News.
The three islands, Ofu, Olosega and Ta’u, are about 68 miles east of the main island, Tutuila, with a population of about 1,000 compared to 54,000.
Vaeafe, who is talking with expedition lines, said the islands are remote and untouched, with national parks and marine sanctuaries featuring beaches and reefs without the coral bleaching, which has affected many other reefs in the world.
Another project in the works is a World Bank supported three-month trial of homeporting a ship in the South Pacific which would then call at the islands in the region, including American Samoa. He noted that both Fiji and Tahiti have significant airlift and hotel capacity to handle a homeport operation.
Meanwhile, American Samoa’s main port, Pago Pago, has confirmed 15 calls for this year, and so far 13 for 2018 and eight for 2019, when the callers will include the 2,550-passenger MSC Magnifica and the 2.850-passenger Celebrity Solstice, Vaeafe said.
Pago Pago can accommodate two big ships at a time and has done so on several occasions. The last double call was the Emerald and Sea Princess in April with 8,100 passengers and crew. Tours, requiring coaches, were organized for one ship in the morning and the other in the afternoon, Vaeafe explained.
In addition to nature attractions, he said that passengers like to dine ashore, to sample local specialties, and to shop, especially buying American products.
Among the callers last year was the Costa Atlantica with 3,000 Chinese passengers aboard.
Pago Pago has a 400-foot and a 900-foot pier and Vaeafe said they can accommodate the largest cruise ships, also adding that cruise ships have priority and that any cargo ships at the piers will be temporarily moved.
The port’s master plan call for a new, separate L-shaped cruise pier, that will be able to accommodate four ships at a time.