Investigation underway after a cruise ship reportedly maneuvers close to shore

Footage emerged online showing Celebrity Edge navigating dangerously close to Hawaii’s Nā Pali coast earlier this week. Local authorities are investigating the incident, including the possibility that the ship violated Hawaiian laws designed to protect the coastline.

Aerial view of the lush, mountainous coast of Nā Pali with clear blue water and waves crashing on the shore.
Nā Pali Coast in Hawaii

The Nā Pali Coast is easily one of the most famous areas of the island of Kaua’i. With breathtaking beaches and sea caves, it became a reserve in 1983. Due to its cultural and environmental significance, the local government imposed legislation to control commercial activities in the area.

Commercial vessels must maintain a distance of 900 meters from the coast and only certain vessel sizes, based on passenger capacity, are allowed indoors.

Hawaiian law explicitly states: “Under no circumstances shall a commercial vessel with a passenger capacity of fifty or more passengers operate in the ocean waters of the Na Pali Coast.”

Despite these restrictions, online videos and photos show the ship carrying 2,918 passengers sailing close to the island, raising concerns among environmentalists and residents. Eyewitness accounts estimate that Celebrity Edge was about 300 meters offshore.

Meanwhile, those who saw aerial footage claim they saw the 130,818-ton vessel disturbing the sand beneath it, impacting the local marine environment.

“If the engines are running while the ship is turning, it kicks up all the sand at the bottom of the ocean. And when the sand settles on the coral, the coral dies. The coral needs sunlight, but if the sand suffocates it, the coral dies,” explains local radio personality Lina Girl Langi.
Aerial view of Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Edge
Aerial view of Celebrity Edge from Celebrity Cruises (Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises)

After receiving several reports about the Celebrity Edge, the ship is now under investigation by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), the state Department of Transportation and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Celebrity Cruises has not yet released a statement on the controversial incident.