Frequently Asked Questions

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Where does the name KWAI come from?

KWAI was not built having this name. She was originally named Bayern, which is the name of the region in Germany where she was built. As far as we were told, she was renamed KWAI when her new owner was taken with the 1958 World war 2 movie , “Bridge over the river KWAI”.

We had originally intended to change her name to something more in keeping with the work we intended to do in the South Pacific, but we were so busy getting the operation set up and we discovered we had taken to long to change her name. The name KWAI had “stuck”.

We later found out the KWAI has many meanings in various languages with a few small spelling alterations. In Thailand for instance we are told it means “hard working water buffalo”. The online Urban dictionary defines KWAI as “Really cool; far out, neat and classy”. We figure this is all good- KWAI is KWAI

Where does the KWAI sail to?

We sail from Honolulu to three Islands in the country of Kiribati. Kiritimati (or Christmas) Island, Tabuaeran (Fanning) Island, Teraina (Washington) Island.

We sail to the following Islands in the Cooks: Penrhyn, Rakahanga, Manihiki, Palmerston, Nassau, PukaPuka and Rarotonga.

Do you ever go anyplace else?

At this time these are the only Islands we go to.

How long are the voyages?

If we sail round-trip from Honolulu to Kiribati and back, then the voyage is usually from 6 to 7 weeks.

If we sail round-trip from Honolulu to Kiribati and the Cook Islands with a turn around in Rarotonga, then the voyage is usually 4+ months.

How many years has the KWAI been working in the South Pacific?

We’ve been operating in this area of the Pacific since 2006.

How large is the ship?

43 meters (140 ft), Beam 7 meters (23 ft), Draft 3 meters (10 ft) and Tonnage 179.

How many people does it take to sail the ship?

A minimum of 8 sailors and a max of 11.

Do you take passengers?

On occasion we have taken passengers from Honolulu but on a very limited basis and it always depends if we have a bunk available which these days is not often.

Any person applying for passage must first fill out an application which among other things will ask you about your overall health and physical ability to safely be on a working ship. This application will then be reviewed by the Captain.

Any persons applying for passage must take into consideration that we are a working cargo ship and not a cruising passenger ship nor a yacht and therefore do not have certain comforts that other ships that cater to passengers will most likely have. Consideration will also be determined by availability of bunk space. There is a daily fee.

How do I ship cargo or place an order for you to buy things for me?

Please refer to the page on this “How to Ship Cargo” for full details.

Do you ever charter the ship?

We have on occasion chartered the ship but only if we can fit it into our scheduled cargo delivery service. If you are interested in discussing a charter, please contact us.

Do you do sail training?

No, we are not set up to be a training ship.

Can I work for passage to another Island?

Usually not, but the Captain has the last say on this.

Can I board the ship in a foreign country and sail on the ship into the United States?

You can only come into the United States if you have an appropriate VISA issued in your country of origin.

Can I board as a passenger in a USA port (for example Honolulu) and be dropped off on another Hawaiian Island or ship cargo from a USA port to another USA port?

Not at this time. We are a foreign built vessel and due to the Jones Act, a United States federal statute from 1920 that regulates maritime commerce in US waters prohibits us from working between any US ports. We can not ship passengers nor cargo between any two US ports.

Can I invest in the KWAI?

At this time we do not have stock for sale in the company.

If we have not answered your questions, please feel free to contact us through our email: or fill out our online contact form
and we will be happy to answer any other questions you may have.