It’s only a 10-hour flight away at most from the East Coast of Australia, but cruising to or from Hawaii can have an extraordinary range of benefits unlike those you will find on a regular cruise in Australian waters.
If you’re heading east at the end of the Australian season (around late March or early April), the safe bet is that the ship has had another successful Aussie summer in local waters, provided countless happy memories for cruisers and has a clearly satisfied crew. On these Trans-Pacific voyages, these crew will most likely have more time to get to know you due to a smaller number of guests joining them for their journey back across the Pacific.
Sailing west at the start of the next season (around September or October) bound for Australia, there is excitement and anticipation in the air as the crew are energised and ready to go for the summer ahead. In some cases, the ship will have undergone a refurbishment or a full maintenance, be gleaming in all corners and ready for the fun times ahead.
If you’re contemplating a longer cruise and feel like journeying across the Pacific, here are some of the ships on which you can enjoy the experience.
Explorer of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)
Departure Date: 08 October 2016 from Seattle.
Voyage: 24-night Transpacific Cruise.
After its maiden season in Australia this past summer, Explorer of the Seas will return to local waters late this year for another turn, having spent the summer cruising from Seattle.
Having spent five days at sea, the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu will be the first stop for this ship during this voyage from the US West Coast as it heads for Sydney. Hawaii will be a focus destination as the ship spends two days and one whole night in Maui to give guests a great opportunity to get to know this small but famous island.
The next week will be spent at sea as the ship crosses the International Date Line on its journey west, with the next stop scheduled for the Fijian capital of Suva. There is plenty to do in this small city, whether wandering shops, heading to the beach or taking a tour to a nearby island. Like Hawaii, Explorer will spend the night here. Further stops in the Vanuatu hotspots of Port Vila and Mystery Island come next, before one final call in Noumea before sailing into Sydney Harbour once again.
Sun Princess (Princess Cruises)
Departure Date: 09 August 2016 from San Francisco.
Voyage: 25-day Circle Pacific Cruise.
During the cooler months, Princess Cruises’ ships in Australia often set sail on longer voyages and this winter, Sun Princess will be found encircling the Pacific Ocean on a mighty 75-day marathon which actually departs from Sydney on 21 June. Honolulu will feature in the latter stages of the voyage as the ship prepares for its return.
After cruising through Malaysia, China and Japan, the 2,010-passenger ship will cross the Pacific into Alaska before heading down the West Coast of the USA, turning right and heading via Hawaii back to Australia. If 75 days is too long for you to be away, you can join the ship in San Francisco for a shorter 25 days on the return leg.
This segment of the voyage will see the ship call in San Diego, Honolulu, Maui and The Big Island – the latter being a rarity for ships crossing the Pacific. Five days at sea later, the ship will tour Tahiti and Bora Bora (but not Moorea) before crossing the International Date Line and making final stops in Auckland and the Bay of Islands. Two further days at sea later, the extended journey will reach its crescendo when it returns to Sydney.
Celebrity Solstice (Celebrity Cruises)
Departure Date: 19 September 2016 from Honolulu.
Voyage: 19-night Tahitian Treasures Cruise.
If you’re a true nautical person where the best parts of cruising are the days at sea, this cruise could be for you, with 11 days at sea over the course of the nearly three-week voyage. After leaving Honolulu in mid-September, the cruise will spend one day in Maui before the first five-day stint at sea begins. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of things to see, do, eat and drink onboard the ship, as this photo tour of the ship can attest. You’ll have plenty of chances to enjoy the dining, such as the crepes at Bistro on Five.
The ship will break up the cruising with three days in the Tahitian islands, visiting Bora Bora, Papeete and Moorea. A second five-day period at sea then follows before then enjoying two stops in New Zealand in Auckland and the Bay of Islands. Solstice will then continue around the north of the country and across the Tasman, ending its voyage in Sydney two days later.
Carnival Legend (Carnival Cruise Line)
Departure Date: 23 September 2016 from Honolulu.
Voyage: 17-night Transpacific Cruise.
Another sea-intensive itinerary can easily be offset through a huge array of things to see and do onboard the sister ship to Carnival Spirit, which was recently loaded up with all of the favourite activities and features loved by its growing Australian fanbase.
After setting sail from the Hawaiian capital, the ship will spend five days at sea before arriving in the Tahiti islands. Different to most itineraries though will see the ship spend nearly 24 straight hours in Papeete, arriving at 9am and leaving at 4am the next morning, which will give guests a chance to delve deep into the Tahitian nightlife until the early hours. A short cruise later and the ship will be in Moorea by the time the sun comes up the same day, with Bora Bora featuring on the schedule after that.
Crossing the International Date Line, Carnival Legend will then find itself a few days later in Suva, Fiji for the day. A day in Noumea will then follow before the ship embarks on the home stretch to its favourite summer home in Sydney.
MS Noordam (Holland America Line)
Departure Date: 05 October 2016 from Honolulu.
Voyage: 16-night South Pacific Crossing.
Such has been the popularity of MS Noordam in Australia, which saw the ship become one of the latest to leave our shores for the winter, the return voyage is already completely sold out in all stateroom categories. Not a single space left.
Passengers will join the ship in Honolulu but unlike other itineraries in this list, will remain in Hawaii for their entire first night, setting sail at just before midnight on the second day. Two more Hawaiian islands will come next as the ship heads to Maui and The Big Island for a full day in each.
The ship will visit a variety of ports outside the normal passage, skipping Tahiti entirely and after five days at sea, will drop anchor in Pago Pago, American Samoa and offer the island to its guests for the day. After the International Date Line, next on the schedule for Noordam are Suva and Dravuni Island in Fiji before three consecutive days visiting Port Vila, Vanuatu; Lifou, New Caledonia and Noumea, New Caledonia. Two days at sea will then follow before the ship cruises into Sydney Harbour. It sounds like a great itinerary, and is clearly popular as there’s no more room at this inn.
Queen Elizabeth (Cunard)
Departure Date: 16 January 2017 from New York City.
Voyage: 40-night World Cruise segment.
Another unique itinerary for guests with the time and money to be able to enjoy it in classic ocean-going luxury will see the popular Cunard ship Queen Elizabeth head west from New York halfway across the world as part of its annual World Cruise from Southampton.
This particular segment will stop in Fort Lauderdale and a number of ports in Central and South America before transiting the famed Panama Canal. Turning north, the ocean liner will visit San Francisco before reaching Hawaii, stopping in Honolulu and Maui. After then crossing the International Date Line, Queen Elizabeth will call in Apia, Samoa and Nuku’Alofa, the capital of Tonga – bypassing Tahiti, Vanuatu and Noumea altogether. Two final stops in Auckland and the Bay of Islands will precede the ship’s arrival in Sydney.
Radiance of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)
Departure Date: 20 September 2016 from Honolulu.
Voyage: 18-night Transpacific Cruise.
This 2,500 passenger ship has been cruising in Australia each summer for a number of years now and has developed a fiercely loyal fanbase. Among its most popular features is the soaring nine-storey central atrium where you’ll often find one of the ship’s entertainers regaling guests with some pleasant music during the afternoon.
Once you set sail from Hawaii, you’ll have nearly a week to get to know the ship and enjoy six days at sea before reaching the islands of Tahiti. You’ll spend three days in Papeete, Moorea and Bora Bora and its opportunities to dive in the clear lagoons or chill on the beach.
Another seven days at sea after that will only feel like six as you cross the International Date Line, stopping in the New Zealand capital of Wellington. One final stop in Picton will precede two final days at sea before the cruise reaches its adoring public in Sydney once again.
MS Maasdam (Holland America Line)
Departure Date: 03 October 2016 from Honolulu.
Voyage: 16-day South Pacific Crossing.
One of several ships making their debut in Australia next summer, Holland America Line’s 1,258-passenger MS Maasdam will leave its long-held home on the East Coast of the USA heading west across the Pacific, such is the popularity of the mid-size ship concept here.
Travellers joining the ship in Hawaii for the journey to Australia will benefit from another unique itinerary as the ship leaves Honolulu and makes its first stop a day later in Kona, on the Big Island. Kona is a delightful little town and offers far more to do and see than one may think on first glance. Make the most of it before you head to sea for an extended stretch.
After five days at sea and crossing the International Date Line, Maasdam will call in the Samoan capital of Apia for the day. Two stops in Fiji will follow, with a day docked in Suva and a day enjoying the beaches of Dravuni Island. Vanuatu is next, with a port call scheduled at Mystery Island and a day in Noumea, New Caledonia after that. Two final days at sea will follow before guests will arrive in Sydney.