HONOLULU (AP) – Celebrity Cruises will no longer use a magazine advertisement that showed King Kamehameha’s statue holding a glass of champagne to promote trips to Hawaii, the company said.

The ad, which appeared in the trade publication Travel Weekly, caused outrage among Native Hawaiian groups who were insulted by the photo illustration.

“We are terribly sorry that we have offended anyone,” said Lynn Martenstein, spokeswoman for Miami-based Celebrity Cruises, a brand of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We’re horrified that we’ve been insensitive. … It was never our intention. We have pulled the ad. It will never run again.”

The ad shows King Kamehameha’s statue, adorned in multicolored lei, holding an outstretched glass of champagne.

It is similar to statues of King Kamehameha I displayed in Honolulu and the Big Island. He is known for establishing the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810.

The ad was created as part of a series by Boston-based agency Arnold Communications that features icons from various tourist destinations, Martenstein said.

“When I saw the ad, I was appalled to think that any company would have the audacity to use our culture in that fashion and especially our icon, King Kamehameha,” said Wayne Kahoonei Panoke, executive director of Ilioulaokalani Coalition, a group of Hawaiian cultural practitioners. “This has got to stop.”

The ad also shocked Hawaii tourism leaders, and it underscores the need for more efforts to educate tourism companies about Hawaii’s culture.

“I’m saddened by it, that we have not made more inroads into this outreach where our sellers of Hawaii are concerned,” said state tourism liaison Marsha Wienert. “It falls on us to be the educators.”

Hawaii Tourism Authority President and CEO Rex Johnson said the ad is improper.

“I’m sure Celebrity didn’t intend to offend people, but the ad is inappropriate,” Johnson said. “I expect this ad was done by a mainland firm who has no understanding of Hawaii and its people.”

The Tourism Authority plans to develop a style guide that can help people and businesses understand what is correct protocol for Hawaiian issues, Johnson said.

George Chalekian, executive creative director at Honolulu advertising agency Milici Velenti Ng Pak, likened the ad to vandalism.

“There’s plenty of bad advertising that goes out, but nothing that I have seen that in any way attacks or belittles or demeans the host culture, not in the overt fashion that this particular ad does,” he said.


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