Welcome to the next instalment in a series of articles from Cruise Advice in which we showcase some of the best cruise destinations around the world. Here, we will share some information about where you can cruise if joining a ship from these ports. As well, you’ll find some recommendations on how to spend a few days seeing the sights before heading to the port or after you get back.
America’s 50th state is the closest geographically to Australia and offers a year-round tropical climate which suits the sun-chasing lifestyle we crave. Tourism is by far the main driver of the Hawaiian economy and as such, the four major islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawai’i (also known as The Big Island) are teeming with efficient and exciting natural and man-made attractions from erupting volcanoes to traditional native Hawaiian celebrations.
While many travellers are lured to Waikiki Beach and its plethora of tourist-friendly drawcards, the three outer islands reflect a more authentic and traditional example of ancient and modern Hawaiian culture.
How can i get to Honolulu?
Air and sea options are available to get you to the Hawaiian capital, although the latter are far more limited. Many of the bigger international cruise ships such as Explorer of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Celebrity Solstice and Carnival Legend travel to Australia for our peak season at some point between August and October each year, heading back in March or April.
Similar routes are also plied by the luxury ships, however there are more options heading west than east. But if you have around three weeks to spare and an insatiable cruise craving (hey, don’t we all), you may wish to cruise from Australia to Hawaii to join another cruise.
But for the much faster option, Hawaii is well served from Australia by major airlines including Qantas, Jetstar, Air New Zealand (via Auckland) and Fiji Airways (via Nadi). An authentically Hawaiian experience is also available with Hawaiian Airlines flying daily from Sydney and several times per week from Brisbane.
Where can i cruise to from here?
Aside from the aforementioned one-way sailings to Australia, Hawaii offers a robust cruising industry headlined by Norwegian Cruise Line and its 2,138-passenger ship Pride of America. Based permanently in the island chain, this vessel is appropriately decorated for a traditional Hawaiian experience with lots of colourful flowers, dining offerings and drink products.
Pride of America departs from the Honolulu Cruise Terminal on Saturday each week, sailing a seven-night round-trip itinerary which visits each of the four major islands and even stays overnight in Maui. Guests can disembark for at least the day on each island (twice on The Big Island, in Kona and Hilo) and can also enjoy the scenic atmosphere that cruising in Hawaii offers as the ship sails close to the Napali Coast. It is one of the most popular cruise holidays outside of Australia and not difficult to see why.
Which ships will i find sailing from Hawaii?
Of course, such an idyllic destination is not exclusive to Norwegian Cruise Line and Pride of America, with many cruise lines often found in the region at different times of the year. Travellers can embark in Honolulu for a cruise to Vancouver with Celebrity Millennium, fleet-mate Celebrity Solstice or Holland America Line’s MS Noordam. In winter (although Hawaii doesn’t really have a winter) and at various other times of the year, the ship is also visited by MS Amsterdam and Oceania Cruises’ Insignia.
If you’d rather visit Hawaii solely on a cruise, you may be better suited flying to Los Angeles and joining a cruise ship there for a round-trip to the Hawaiian Islands. For more information on these, check out our Destination Guide for LA.
Where is the best place to stay in Honolulu?
World famous Waikiki Beach and its immediate surroundings feature hundreds of hotels and resorts, and with such competition for rooms, the consumers are often the winners with great rates on offer year-round for accommodation. Whether you want to stay across the road from the beach itself, in a more centralised location, on the outskirts of town or even nowhere near it, there is no shortage of options.
Some of those more popular with Australian travellers include Marriott properties, the Aqua hotels chain and many more. Outside of town, a number of properties offer an inclusive resort experience where you hardly need to leave, such as Turtle Bay on the North Shore. The Disney Aulani Resort is also popular with families but is also not located close to town.
What can i see and do before boarding my ship?
If you get tired of lying on the beach and are keen to explore Waikiki and other parts of the island of Oahu, there is a huge range of tourist attractions no more than an hour or so away and in most cases, just up the road.
One of the most enduringly popular tourist experiences in Hawaii is the Pearl Harbour Memorial, which takes guests back to December 1941 when the USA was thrust into the grip of World War II by a ferocious bombing attack by an enemy force. There’s something deeply moving and humbling about being able to see the remains of a sunken battleship just below the waterline and to pay appropriate respects to the tragedy and its victims. It’s now one of the most popular attractions in Hawaii and attracts thousands of visitors each day.
Other activities include submarine rides just off the Waikiki coastline; a full-day drive around the entire island; surfing excursions to the waves of the North Shore and golf tours to some of the most picturesque courses in the world. For those keen to learn more about the native Hawaiian culture, a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Centre on the North Shore is extremely popular with Australian travellers. And of course for some retail therapy, some great shopping in the US can be found at the Ala Moana Shopping Centre or the Waikele Premium Outlets.
What can i expect in the cruise terminal itself?
With weekly cruises coming in and out from Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Pride of America at the very least, the Hawaii Cruise Terminal is a slick facility. At this cruise doesn’t leave US waters, immigration formalities are not necessary for the week-long Hawaii cruise, but facilities are available for cruises travelling further than this.
Located a short drive from the International Airport and readily accessible by taxis, it is possible to fly into Hawaii first thing in the morning and cruise out the same day, however why would you want to do this with so much to see and do elsewhere in Waikiki first.