Cruising the Hawaiian Islands

Cruising has become popular in Hawaii. Cruises are a comparatively inexpensive way to see all of Hawaii, and you’ll save travel time by not having to check in at hotels and airports on each island. The limited amount of time in each port can be an argument against cruising, but you can make reservations for tours, activities, rental cars, and more aboard the cruise ship.

The larger cruise lines such as Carnival, Princess, and Holland America offer itineraries of 10–16 days departing from the West Coast of the United States, most with stops at all the major Hawaiian Islands. Some cruise lines, such as Crystal, Cunard, and Disney, include ports in Hawaii on around-the-world cruises. All have plenty on board to keep you busy during the four to five days that you are at sea between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii.

Cruise ships plying the Pacific from the continental United States to Hawaii are floating resorts complete with pools, spas, rock-climbing walls, restaurants, nightclubs, shops, casinos, children’s programs, and much more.

Prices for cruises are based on accommodation type: interior (no window, in an inside corridor); outside (includes a window or porthole); balcony (allows you to go outside without using a public deck); and suite (larger cabin, more amenities and perks). Passages start at about $1,000 per person for the lowest class accommodation (interior) and include room, on-board entertainment, and food. Ocean-view, balcony, and suite accommodations can run up to $6,500 and more per person.

Cruising to Hawaii

Carnival Cruises is great for families, with plenty of kid-friendly activities. Departing from Los Angeles or Vancouver, Carnival’s "fun ships" show your family a good time, both on board and on shore (888/227–6482 www.carnival.com). The grand dame of cruise lines, Holland America has a reputation for service and elegance. Their 14-day Hawaii cruises leave from and return to San Diego, with a brief stop at Ensenada (877/932–4259www.hollandamerica.com). More affordable luxury is what Princess Cruises offers. Although their prices seem a little higher, you get more bells and whistles on your trip (more affordable balcony rooms, more restaurants to choose from, personalized service) (800/774–6237 www.princess.com).

Cruising within Hawaii

Norwegian Cruise Lines (www.ncl.com) is the only major operator to begin and end cruises in Hawaii. Pride of Hawaii (vintage America theme, family focus with lots of connecting staterooms and suites) offers a seven-day itinerary that includes stops on Maui, Oahu, the Big Island, and Kauai. This is the only ship to cruise Hawaii that does not spend days at sea visiting a foreign port, allowing you more time to explore destinations). Ocean conditions in the channels between islands can be a consideration when booking an interisland cruise on a smaller vessel such as the one operated by Un-Cruise Adventures (www.un-cruise.com)—a stately yacht accommodating only 36 passengers. This yacht's small size allows it to dock at less frequented islands such as Molokai and Lanai. The cruise is billed as "all inclusive"—your passage includes shore excursions, water activities, and a massage.

Published 01/10/2017

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