Cruise to Hawaii

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Hawaii Cruises: Your guide to island hopping in the tropics

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Frequently asked questions

There are six cruise ports in Hawaii spread across the four main islands. Depending on the length of your cruise, you will visit one island or all of them! 

Almost every Hawaiian cruise will visit Honolulu, the capital city, on the island of Oahu. It’s most famous for Waikiki Beach, the Pearl Harbour National Memorial and it’s incredible surf beaches. 

There are two ports on the island of Maui – Kahului Harbor and Lahaina. This island is known for its gorgeous beaches, excellent snorkelling, rugged hiking trails, the Haleakala Crater volcano and the Road to Hana drive. 

Port of Hilo and Kailua Kona are the ports on the island of Hawaii, commonly called the Big Island. Shore excursions here will take you to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, coffee plantations and yet more lovely beaches. 

Sitting at the far north of Hawaii, Kaua’i is known as the Garden Island. Marvel at the grand canyons, tropical rainforest, white sand beaches, and iconic Napali Coastline.

Yes – it will just take you a while to get there! A number of cruise lines run Transpacific cruises from Australia to Hawaii, including Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruises. These cruises will take at least two weeks and generally sail from Sydney via New Zealand and some South Pacific islands.

Hawaii is part of the United States of America, so the same entry requirements apply here. Citizens of 38 different nations don’t need a visa, but will need to apply for a Visa Waiver through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before they travel to Hawaii. Be sure to check with your relevant government authority before you travel what your requirements for entry are.

Tipping policies vary, but most lines will have a policy of automatically adding a daily gratuity charge to your onboard account. This is usually around USD$15-20 a day. You may also see an automatic service charge added to extras like drinks or spa treatments. There is no expectation for you to tip the crew on top of this. Be aware that when you’re ashore in Hawaii, you will be expected to tip at bars and restaurants – this is usually between 15-25% of the total bill.

Large ships cruising to Hawaii will have multiple restaurants on board, offering a mix of international cuisines and Hawaiian specialties. Most ships will restock during their time in the islands, so will pick up local ingredients like fresh seafood and tropical fruits. As the Pride of America is permanently based in Hawaii, its menu features many Hawaiian dishes like pineapple beurre blanc with fresh seafood and papaya with Asian short ribs. Princess Cruises also tailors its special Aloha Spirit menu to the islands, serving slow roasted luau pork, Kona shrimp, macadamia-infused desserts and Hawaiian cocktails.

Hawaii is a year-round destination and whenever you visit you’ll be charmed by its golden beaches, lush jungle and vibrant culture. The most popular time to visit is the winter season between October and April. You can still expect great weather and minimal rain. Most cruise lines will visit during this period and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America is the only ship sailing here year-round.

Absolutely! There are cruises specifically designed for inter-island exploration in Hawaii. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America ship is based in Hawaii and sails through the islands year-round. The seven-day round-trip itinerary departs from Honolulu and visits four ports across Maui, the Big Island and Kaua’i. Expedition cruisers can also choose an eight-day itinerary visiting smaller and more remote ports.

Expect to spend a lot of time outside on your port stops, swimming at pristine beaches, surfing world-famous waves, snorkelling on coral reefs and hiking through green jungle. On the Big Island, you can visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa, or hike to the summit of the dormant Mauna Kea. Hawaii’s whale watching season runs from November to April, peaking from January to March. You should be able to spot them from the deck of your ship, from the shore on the islands or on a whale watching tour. Learn about Hawaii’s military history at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, where you can walk on a platform above a sunken battleship. You will also get to experience the rich Hawaiian culture with traditional performances, hula dancing, arts and crafts, music and maybe even a luau feast.

The only major adults’ only cruise line that sails to Hawaii is Viking Cruises – you’ll never find any kids on board this line. Expedition vessel Safari Explorer only welcomes children aged over 12 (except during special family-friendly sailings). Many of the other lines that sail to Hawaii have dedicated adults’ only areas on board with special suites, pools, restaurants and bars just for the grown ups.

You sure can – and we think you should. Wherever your cruise finishes, you’re not far from some of Hawaii’s most popular holiday spots or spectacular natural wonders. If you finish in Honolulu, the glitzy resorts of Waikiki Beach are just a few minutes away. It’s also easy to fly between the islands if you want to explore further. Coordinate with your cruise line when you book or ask your Flight Centre travel expert for their recommendations.

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*Travel restrictions & conditions apply. Review any specific conditions stated and our general terms at Terms and Conditions. Prices & taxes are in NZD and are correct as at the date of publication & are subject to availability and change without notice. Prices quoted are on sale until the dates specified unless otherwise stated or sold out prior. Prices are per person.