From the lava flows of the Big Island to the waterfalls of Kauai, Hawaii is a wonderful destination for island-hopping. All of the islands are spectacular, and each has its own unique character, climate, and traditions. There’s plenty of history here, from the ancient kingdoms of Hawaii to the heroics of World War II. And everywhere you look, there’s breathtaking beauty.
There are three basic options for a cruise of Hawaii: sailing roundtrip from Honolulu; sailing roundtrip from the West Coast; or visiting during a repositioning cruise across the Pacific. What are the advantages of each?
Roundtrip from Honolulu: This option really maximizes your time in the islands, as there are no days at sea traveling to or from the West Coast. However, to comply with U.S. laws related to passenger shipping, cruise ships that are not U.S.-flagged must call on at least one international port each time they sail: that’s why some itineraries include a call on Tabuaeran, also known as Fanning Island. This type of cruise is a good option if you have a limited amount of vacation time; most roundtrip-from-Honolulu cruises are about seven days.
Roundtrip from the U.S. or Canada: If you enjoy relaxing days at sea, you can sail to Hawaii roundtrip from several ports on the West Coast. Foreign-flagged ships that depart from Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco often call on Ensenada, Mexico, to satisfy the requirement to call on an international port; ships that depart from Vancouver, British Columbia, automatically satisfy that requirement. These cruises are usually about 14 to 18 days, with several sea days in a row at the beginning and at the end of the cruise. Some longer itineraries also visit other lovely islands in the South Pacific before returning.
Repositioning: You can also explore Hawaii (and more) on a repositioning cruise, when a cruise line moves a ship from the West Coast to Asia or the South Pacific, or vice-versa. These cruises take place just once or twice a year and can be a great choice for someone who has plenty of time to travel and enjoys time at sea.
Talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert not only about which type of Hawaiian cruise is for you, but when to go. Winter is peak season, late spring offers less crowded ships, and late fall can be a good time for discounts.