Hawaii cruise information: Finest itineraries, planning suggestions and issues to do

Hawaii and cruising seem to be a match made in heaven. You’ll be able to expertise all of the seashores, water sports activities, lush scenic areas and Polynesian tradition with out having to settle for only one island — or cope with the effort of flying between them.

As well as, you get a handy residence base to go away your stuff, take pleasure in night leisure and not using a drive and linger over dinner with out worrying how a lot the invoice will come to.

Nonetheless, it is not all paradise within the Hawaii cruise world as a result of itineraries are restricted. Why? U.S. authorities rules prohibit foreign-flagged ships from crusing between U.S. ports with out visiting a overseas port.

As a result of most cruise ships are flagged out of the country, they can’t supply interisland cruises. Solely two strains at present supply these. The remaining should sail lengthy cruises at the least one-way, if not spherical journey, from the west coast of North America.

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If a Hawaii cruise feels like the proper getaway to you, you may wish to learn up on which strains supply which forms of itineraries, in addition to which islands and ports you need to go to.

Right here, we have gathered all the data you might want to know to decide on the proper Aloha State crusing on your journey model, finances and allotted trip time.

Why cruise to Hawaii?

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, with a view of Waipo’o Falls. ROBERT MICHAUD/GETTY IMAGES

I in all probability needn’t persuade anybody why Hawaii is a tremendous trip vacation spot. It has the whole lot — beautiful seashores, fabulous snorkeling and diving spots, scenic mountaineering trails, fascinating native tradition and historical past, scrumptious delicacies, famend resorts and golf programs, and plentiful waterfalls and rainbows.

Why must you cruise as a substitute of reserving a resort or resort keep on land? The principle cause is to pattern extra islands.

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Most vacationers stick to at least one, probably two islands, throughout a Hawaii trip. If you wish to pattern the highlights of a number of islands, from Volcanoes Nationwide Park close to Hilo, Hawaii, to Kauai’s Waimea Canyon and Napali Coast, it is a lot less complicated to do this from a cruise ship.

Moreover, lodging costs in Hawaii could be excessive attributable to its reputation as a trip vacation spot. Eating places are additionally costlier than on the mainland as a result of many staples need to be shipped in from afar.

On a cruise, you are free to pattern Hawaiian delicacies throughout your time in port, however can take as many meals as you need on board, a lot of that are already coated in your cruise fare.

When do cruises go to Hawaii?


You’ll be able to sail to Hawaii year-round, however the itinerary choices range based mostly on the month you select. Norwegian Cruise Line is the one main cruise line to supply year-round, weeklong cruises.

When you’re on the lookout for an extended itinerary, crusing spherical journey from the west coast of North America, or a small-ship journey cruise, you may have the largest choice of cruises between October and April.

The start and finish of the Alaska season within the spring and fall is whenever you’ll discover one-way repositioning cruises both between Hawaii and Vancouver, British Columbia, or Seattle, or from the Pacific Northwest all the best way to the South Pacific, stopping in Hawaii alongside the best way.

The summer time presents the fewest Hawaii cruise choices.

Associated: Finest time to cruise Hawaii

Finest Hawaii itineraries


Cruises to Hawaii fall into three classes: weeklong interisland cruises, round-trip cruises crusing to/from the West Coast and one-way repositioning cruises.

The perfect cruise for you will depend on how a lot trip time you could have, what number of islands you wish to go to, whether or not you are on the lookout for in a single day port stays and the way you’re feeling about a number of sea days in a row.

Interisland cruises

The perfect Hawaii itinerary in my view is Norwegian Cruise Line’s seven-night round-trip Honolulu sailings on Satisfaction of America. The U.S.-flagged ship is the one massive ship in a position to sail interisland itineraries with out calling on a overseas port.

The itinerary options two-day in a single day visits to Maui and Kauai and stops in each Kona and Hilo on the Huge Island, in addition to scenic cruising alongside Kauai’s famed Napali Coast. It is easy to e book pre- or post-cruise stays in Honolulu to discover locations like Waikiki Seashore, Diamondhead Crater and Pearl Harbor.

For a totally completely different interisland cruise, UnCruise Adventures presents a extra off-the-beaten-path, adventure-focused crusing on the 36-passenger Safari Explorer.

It additionally visits Maui and the island of Hawaii, in addition to the smaller islands of Lanai and Molokai. Count on numerous water sports activities and nature-based outings, and every day plans that may change because of the climate or a whale sighting. These expedition cruises run from November to April.

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Spherical-trip Hawaii cruises from the West Coast

Many of the main cruise strains providing seasonal Hawaii cruises — akin to Carnival, Princess and Holland America — supply 14- to 18-night round-trip itineraries from West Coast ports akin to Los Angeles, Lengthy Seashore, San Diego and San Francisco, in California; Seattle; and Vancouver. These sailings run from the autumn into the spring. Some strains supply just some spherical journeys whereas others supply months of Hawaii cruises.

The itineraries all comply with the same sample: A four-day Pacific Ocean crossing, every day port stops in three or 4 Hawaii ports (often with an in a single day), one other 5 days at sea, then a cease in Ensenada, Mexico, on the best way residence. When you’re crusing from Vancouver, count on 5 days for the crossing and no go to to Mexico.

It’s possible you’ll discover some longer grand voyages crusing spherical journey from North America to Hawaii plus different South Pacific locations. For instance, Holland America presents some epic 35- to 51-night cruises spherical journey from San Diego

These Hawaii cruises are finest for retirees, who’ve the time to take pleasure in leisurely ocean crossings on both finish of the journey.

Repositioning cruises

The ultimate sort of Hawaii cruise is the one-way repositioning crusing, sometimes provided when ships are heading to or leaving Alaska. The cruise line schedules these sailings to swing by Hawaii on their solution to the South Pacific or Australia or maybe earlier than the ship begins Mexico cruises from southern California or transits the Panama Canal to the Atlantic.

The shorter choices, akin to 10- and 11-night Hawaii cruises provided by Royal Caribbean and Celeb, sail between Vancouver and Honolulu, leaving you to e book a one-way flight to or from Hawaii. Longer one-way sailings from upscale manufacturers, akin to Oceania, Seabourn and Silversea, will traverse the Pacific Ocean between Tahiti (or one other far-flung island) and Vancouver or Seattle.

The shorter, one-way sailings are a great compromise for vacationers who do not wish to take a full two weeks or cannot think about 10 days at sea on one trip however do need some enjoyable time on the ship. Additionally they enable pre- or post-cruise stays in Hawaii. The longer one-off journeys are extra for folk eager to discover a large swath of the Pacific, with Hawaii being a small a part of that deep dive.

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Finest Hawaii cruise strains

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Satisfaction of America. DANNY LEHMAN/GETTY IMAGES

It is no shock that I discover Norwegian Cruise Line to be among the best Hawaii cruise strains as a result of it presents a novel product that is an affordable trip size for most individuals and actually permits its visitors to expertise a lot of Hawaii’s highlights.

Princess Cruises is unquestionably the chief within the two-week, round-trip Hawaii cruise division, providing extra sailings out of extra homeports than another line. Carnival, Holland America and Viking additionally supply any such crusing, however not as steadily. Holland America is a good selection for round-trip sailings that discover deep into the South Pacific.

Sister strains Celeb Cruises and Royal Caribbean are good bets for these hybrid one-way cruises from the West Coast to Hawaii.

Seabourn, Silversea and Oceania supply upscale lodging, high quality eating and a number of fare inclusions for vacationers trying to journey in model throughout the Pacific Ocean, stopping in Hawaii alongside the best way. Seabourn and Silversea function smaller ships, extra fare inclusions and better costs than Oceania.

UnCruise Adventures is the road for vacationers who wish to get off the crushed path on a small ship with a versatile itinerary. These sailings are excellent for energetic of us who wish to stand up near nature. You do not have to be a real cruiser to like UnCruise, however you do want a big finances, as intimate adventures do not come low cost.

Issues to do in Hawaii

Water sports activities are a giant draw from browsing Hawaii’s waves to snorkeling. JGALIONE/GETTY IMAGES

Whether or not you are on the lookout for utter rest or an adrenaline rush, you may discover loads of issues to do in Hawaii. The islands have a lot to supply households, {couples} and buddies of all ages.

Clearly, a prime attraction is Hawaii’s many seashores. You’ll be able to plop down within the sand on superbly manicured strands of white sand or discover extra rugged volcanic black sand seashores. Search for seaside parks with sheltered swimming areas for households or discover a secluded seaside away from in style vacationer areas. Some seashores can have sturdy currents or tough seas throughout sure occasions of the 12 months, so at all times train warning when swimming.

Water sports activities are additionally a giant draw, whether or not that is browsing Hawaii’s waves or snorkeling with inexperienced turtles in Maui. Kayak out to sea or alongside Kauai’s Wailua River, or strive your hand at kite-surfing or stand-up paddleboarding. For a extra chill afternoon out on the waves, think about a whale-watching cruise, sundown sail or scenic boat experience alongside the Napali Coast.

Nature lovers can discover quite a lot of hikes inside lush inexperienced forests or alongside the rocky panorama of the Waimea Canyon. Maui’s highway to Hana is a must-do should you like twisty roads and cascading waterfalls. Watch the solar rise or set, bike down the extinct Haleakala volcano, or go to a dwell one at Volcanoes Nationwide Park close to Hilo on the island of Hawaii.

Many vacationers take pleasure in studying about Hawaiian tradition and historical past. Attend a luau the place you possibly can feast on Hawaiian delicacies and luxuriate in music, dancing and hearth play. Some happen on plantations the place you possibly can uncover extra about native agriculture. Or, cease by historic points of interest, akin to Honolulu’s Iolani Palace or the Huge Island’s metropolis of refuge, to study in regards to the historical Polynesian tradition or the Kingdom of Hawaii.

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Finest Hawaii cruise ports

Night time view of Honolulu Harbor. AIMINTANG/GETTY IMAGES

The islands of Hawaii solely supply just a few cruise ports for ships to go to. (UnCruise Adventures is the exception, calling in just a few smaller locations that the massive ships cannot go.) All of them are top-notch, so it is onerous to say which one is the very best total. Actually, some ports are higher for several types of actions.

The next Hawaii ports are those generally discovered on cruise itineraries.

Honolulu, Oahu

Honolulu is understood for Pearl Harbor, the place you possibly can go to the usArizona Memorial Museum, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, a submarine museum and an aviation museum. Cruisers can catch some rays at Waikiki Seashore or hike the Diamond Head crater.

Find out about Hawaiian historical past on the Mauna ‘Ala royal mausoleum and the Iolani Palace, or Hawaiian tradition at a luau or the Polynesian Cultural Heart. You may as well take a tour to Oahu’s North Shore. Oahu is the turn-around port for Satisfaction of America, so vacationers ought to think about a pre- or post-cruise keep to see the sights.

Nawiliwili, Kauai

The small however mighty Kauai is among the finest Hawaii ports for out of doors, nature-based journey. Get your cameras out for the rocky landscapes of the Waimea Canyon and the breathtaking cliffs of the Napali Coast. When you like mountaineering or kayaking, you’ve got come to the best island, however you too can take it straightforward on any variety of close by seashores.

Take a riverboat alongside the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto, or hop a tour bus to see the place a lot of your favourite films had been filmed. It is also a great place for a luau in case your ship stays in port late sufficient.

Hilo, Hawaii

The Huge Island is the one island providing two main ports for cruise ships: Hilo on the east coast and Kona on the west. Hilo is the jumping-off level to go to Hawaii Volcanoes Nationwide Park, the place you possibly can hike by a lava tube or watch steam venting from the still-active volcano.

The world can also be residence to quite a few waterfalls you possibly can go to, akin to Rainbow Falls and Akaka Falls, in addition to black-sand seashores. Kayak or snorkel in Hilo Bay, or — for one thing completely different — go to the Volcano Vineyard to pattern vintages made each with grapes and native fruits.

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Kona, Hawaii

The second cruise port on the island of Hawaii, Kona is among the finest ports for visiting a espresso plantation and sampling native Hawaiian espresso. For vacationers extra concerned about historical Polynesian historical past, the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau Nationwide Historic Park, the location of an previous metropolis of refuge, is an enchanting place to go to. In any other case, Kona presents loads of seashores, snorkeling alternatives and boat and submarine excursions.

Lahaina or Kahului, Maui

Maui additionally has two cruise ports, however they serve the identical space and points of interest. The distinction is that Kahului is in an industrial space close to the airport. Cruise ships dock there, however you may have to take a tour or different transportation to see the sights.

Lahaina is a significant vacationer vacation spot for its eating places, outlets and boat excursions, however ships should anchor and transport passengers to shore through tender boats.

Should-sees on Maui embody the extinct volcano Haleakala (for sundown or dawn visits or bike rides down the steep slopes), the twisty highway to Hana with its waterfall views and plenty of beautiful white-sand seashores. Maui is the very best Hawaii cruise port for whale watching in season or snorkeling in its clear waters. Go to the Maui Ocean Heart to take a look at extra sea life whereas staying dry.

When to e book a Hawaii cruise

A airplane flies into Lihue Airport (LIH) on Kauai. MATTHEW MICAH WRIGHT/GETTY IMAGES

The sooner you e book a Hawaii cruise, the higher. That is as a result of the cruise strains supply comparatively few Hawaii sailings as in comparison with Caribbean and Bahamas cruises, for instance.

Norwegian Cruise Line bases just one ship within the area; different strains solely sail to the islands seasonally. Reserving early won’t solely assure you get the cabin sort you need on the sail date you favor, however may get you the bottom costs and promotional reserving bonuses (i.e. free stuff). As well as, until you reside on the West Coast, a Hawaii cruise would require an extended flight both to California or Honolulu, so you may need loads of time to seek out an airfare deal or out there award seat.

Associated: When is the very best time to e book a cruise?

What to deliver on a Hawaii cruise

Hikers on Moanalua Valley Path, Oahu, Hawaii. ROSANNA U/GETTY IMAGES

What to deliver on a Hawaii cruise will depend on which cruise you are taking. When you’re on a weeklong crusing on informal NCL, you possibly can skip the dressy garments and prioritize informal outfits that work with no matter beachy or sporty excursions you’ve got received deliberate in Hawaii. Solar hats, sun shades, reef-safe sunscreen and water-friendly footwear are all must-pack gadgets. Remember your digicam (or waterproof case on your cellphone) and binoculars for whale watching.

Vacationers on an extended Hawaii crusing on a line like Princess will wish to deliver nicer garments for dinners on board, in addition to loads of actions for all these sea days. That might embody books or an e-reader, a packable board recreation, a knitting mission or a journal. UnCruise passengers ought to pack mountaineering boots, moisture-wicking athletic clothes, loads of swimsuits and waterproof baggage to guard their gear.

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Backside line

A cruise could be a super solution to discover a number of Hawaiian islands in a single journey and save on prices akin to dinner and automobile leases.

Nonetheless, not like in different cruise areas, vacationers are restricted within the itineraries and occasions of the 12 months they will sail. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Satisfaction of America is an effective way to go to the islands in only a week, however followers of leisurely journeys with numerous sea days ought to take a look at round-trip cruises from California.

As soon as you’ve got determined the way you wish to cruise Hawaii, you possibly can hunt down the very best cruise fares so that you’re able to say “Aloha!” to an unbelievable trip when the best deal pops up.

Planning a cruise? Begin with these tales:

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