Hawaii has hundreds of beautiful natural sites. Waterfalls, volcanos, beaches, and rainforests are only some of the myriad of reasons to visit, and what better way to see it all than a sweeping cruise of Hawaii?
Cruises are a popular vacation option in Hawaii, as Hawaii is made up of a cluster of distinct islands that are all relatively close to each other. Going on a cruise around Hawaii can easily take you to popular ports of Hawaii and give you plenty of time to enjoy the unique excursions and activities that are special to each location.
In this article, we’ll take a look at all the upcoming cruises that will be going to Hawaii in 2021 and 2022. We’ll compare the pros and cons, and also go over the commonalities of all Hawaii cruise trips to help you make your decision. After reading this article, you should have all the basic information that you need to know about going on a cruise to Hawaii.
An overview of the vacation cruise experience to Hawaii
On May 5th 2021, the CDC lifted COVID-19 testing requirements for fully vaccinated cruise ship passengers, a move that gave a boost to the hard-hit industry that’d been docked for over a year.
The major cruise lines work with the CDC to establish the best safety practices to help resume cruises while protecting the guests, crew, and the communities they visit. The risks associated with cruises and pandemics were apparent from the onset of 2020, where there were numerous outbreaks aboard cruise ships that left dozens of people sick and stranded at sea.
However, people can factor in this risk compared to other alternatives of travel. All in all, it is still a highly demanded recreation for Americans, and the demand will likely continue to surge and flow in.
Despite these risks, the American demand for cruises is still high. And when it comes to relatively low-COVID destinations like Hawaii, the demand is even stronger.
How much does a Hawaiian cruise cost?
The price of a cruise, depending on when you book and the kind of deal you get, will range from $ 800-$5,000. That’s a big price range, but remember that the cost of a cruise has a lot to do with the different options available. The cruise will usually offer different options of rooms, alcoholic beverage inclusion, wifi packages, and more, which will impact the overall price.
The price also depends on several factors including the length of your cruise, the time of year, the cruise line, and the type of accommodations. The lengths of each cruise package vary, and the price usually goes up in proportion to the number of days of the cruise trip.
Breaking it down to a per night cost, expect around $90-$200 per person, per night.
Keep in mind that flight tickets to and from the port of departure (where the ship leaves) are not included, and most excursions and island activities will also not be included in the cruise package.
Where do Hawaiian cruises leave from?
Leading cruise lines offer different points of departure, to allow you to board the cruise at a convenient location.
Many cruises leave from California (Long Beach, San Diego, and San Francisco are the most popular options), and Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.
For those leaving from California, Ensenada is a popular side-excursion. It’s not in Hawaii but is close to many of the docking areas in California.
When is the best time to go on a Hawaii cruise?
While travel needs to fit around your life, the seasonal conditions at your destination are just as important as details like your vacation schedule or kids’ school schedules.
When it comes to Hawaii, expect 2 general seasons: the wet season (late fall to the end of winter) and the dry season (spring to early fall).
Cruises may be less expensive during the wet season, but many activities will be impacted by the likelihood of rain. The dry season is warm and sunny and much better for cruises, but expect this period to be more popular, busier, and more expensive.
How long are most Hawaiian cruises?
There are several options for the length of the cruise. There are shorter weeklong cruises, which are great for budget travelers or families who don’t want to be at sea for too long.
There are also many popular cruise options that are around two weeks (14 days) or more.
What are the most popular Hawaiian cruises?
Norwegian, Princess, Carnival, and Holland America are some of the leading big cruise lines.
Many of the major cruise lines are opening in the winter quarter of 2021 and onwards.
Popular island destinations for Hawaiin cruises include Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii.
Cruises can hold the best of both worlds because you can enjoy land adventures and changing ocean views at the same time. It reduces the effort of having to plan and book hotels, local transportation, and the logistics of coordinating a multi-stop destination – all the moving pieces that can be a real headache when traveling.
Cruises also have their own built-in entertainment, like clubs for kids and teens, casinos, bars, and live shows. There are action-packed days where you can go on excursions and day-trips, as well as leisurely days to just relax on the cruise and enjoy the all-inclusive activities.
Need to know: The Five Cruise Ports of Hawaii
Regardless of which cruise you take, you’ll visit some of the popular ports of Hawaii. We’ll break down the specialty features of each docking location and what you can expect when your ship is in port. The five most popular ports are Honolulu, Hilo, Kona, Kauai, and Maui.
Honolulu is the state capital of the island of Oahu. Everything you’d expect from a capital city, it’s packed with restaurants, bars, museums, and a vibrant art scene. There’s a lot to explore in Oahu, so you can definitely look into extending your vacation for a few days before or after your cruise. North shore and places like Waimea bay are great for surfing. Honolulu Harbor has two cruise ship terminals and is also home to the famous Waikiki beach.
Hilo is Hawaii’s second-largest town and boasts plenty to see. You can hop on a tour bus to see the attractions here, including Queen Liliuokalani Gardens, Rainbow Falls, Downtown Hilo, Pacific Tsunami Museum, Hilo Farms Market, King Kamehameha Statue, and Hawaii Volcanoes National park. If you’re looking to splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime experience, opt for the helicopter tour.
Kona is a very walkable town, featuring a small, village-like setting with historical sites near the port. Here, you’ll find Hawaii’s volcanic landscapes and views of the Pacific. Don’t let the relaxed vibe fool you though, it’s prime for water activities and full of seaside restaurants, bars, and boutiques. Java lovers will want to enjoy that famous Kona coffee right from the source.
Kauai is a quiet and peaceful island with tropical beauty. It is by far the oldest of the Hawaii islands. Here, you’ll find beautiful mountains, the Waimea Canyon, and the Napali Coastline. Kauai is known as the Garden Island because it abounds with lush natural resources and beauty. And if it looks familiar, there’s a good reason – many scenes for Jurassic Park were filmed in Kauai!
Maui has two ports, Lahaina and Kahului. Lahaina has an artsy ambiance and is close to beaches. Maui is nicknamed Beverly Hills Island or Valley Island because it’s home to an abundance of luxury resorts and high-end properties. But down-to-earth travelers shouldn’t get discouraged – Maui has a little bit of everything, including hikes and nightlife. The Haleakala National Park is one of Maui’s biggest natural attractions and the largest dormant volcano in the world, Haleakala, is located in Maui. Maui is also the whale watching capital for humpback whale sightings (book your cruise in the wintertime if you want to see whales).
Why is a town in Mexico on a list of Hawaiian ports? There’s a reason many Hawaiian cruises pop by Ensenada on the way home. Just 80 miles south of San Diego, it’s a popular tourist destination that helps break up the 4 days you’ll spend cruising back from Hawaii. There are all sorts of water and outdoor recreation activities, like surfing, kayaking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, making it a popular last port for many cruises.
Pro tip: Comfortable walking shoes are recommended!
Comparison of the best Hawaii cruises in 2021 and 2022
So you know roughly what to expect from a Hawaii cruise. Now let’s look at some of the best options for upcoming cruises to Hawaii in 2021 and 2022.
Each cruise has slightly different specialties and provisions, so we’ll go into depth about the unique offerings of each line. Keep in mind that even if you are visiting the same excursions and local areas of Hawaii, much of your time will also be spent enjoying the cruise ship, so it can make a world of difference which line you select.
Norwegian Cruise Line Hawaii cruises
Pride of America is a 7-night cruise that sets off from Honolulu and hits Maui, Hilo, Kona, and Kauai. If offers great value for budget-conscious travelers, or those who are looking to pack as much sunshine into a weeklong work vacation as possible.
This cruise was recently renovated with high-end finishings that will give you a stay with style and comfort. This cruise will docks in a different port every, so it’s a very Hawaii traveling-centric cruise that’s perfect for people who don’t want to spend days at a time at sea.
This cruise offers a choice of trips with different lengths (a 12-night option and a 16-night option). It departs from Vancouver, Canada and will stop at many scenic locations in Canada before cruising across the ocean to Hawaii. Once in Hawaii, it will dock at Maui, Hilo, Kauai, and Honolulu.
This cruise feels more like a traditional ocean cruise, rather than a gigantic resort. It features a mellow color scheme and more traditional activities, but still offers excellent value for high-quality food, service, and exciting itineraries.
Princess Cruise Line Hawaii cruises
Grand Princess is a two-week cruise that leaves from Los Angeles. Notably, its itinerary calls for more days of cruising than days spent in the dock for land activities, making this a great choice for travelers who want to spend time on the open water and taking in scenic ocean views.
It stops at Hilo, Honolulu, Kauai, Ensenada, and Maui for one day each, giving passengers a taste of each island. It’s a slightly older cruise, making it perfect for people who enjoy a more laid-back experience and aren’t looking for a floating resort. It’s a favorite of families with mature children and senior couples looking for a Hawaiian getaway.
The Ruby Princess leaves from San Francisco and features a 15-night itinerary filled mostly with cruising days. It ports at Honolulu, Kauai, Maui, and Hilo for one day each, plus a final stop on Ensenada. For the rest of the days, expect to cruise to azure Hawaiian waters in between port days.
An excellent Kids Club makes this cruise a favorite for families with young children, but don’t let that fool you – the ship is known for a laid-back, easygoing vibe that parents will definitely appreciate!
The Sapphire Princess departs and returns to Los Angeles. It stops in all the favorite Hawaiian tourist destinations like Honolulu, Kauai, Maui, Hilo, and Ensenada. Recently refurbished in 2018 for even more luxe appeal, this is a great cruise for travelers who want a modern, full-service type of cruise.
Three age-appropriate kids clubs keep the little ones entertained, while parents can enjoy one of several special entertainers, live shows, movies, a casino, art gallery, freshwater pools, an ocean-view gym, and even a nightclub. It’s a perfect choice for foodies as well, with multiple restaurants, cafe, pizzeria, grill, and 24-hour room service, of course.
Holland America Cruise Line Hawaii cruises
Koningsdam is an epic 18-night cruise departing and docking in Vancouver, Canada. Expect four days of cruising to and from Hawaii. Start with an overnight excursion in Honolulu, and then daily docking in Hilo, Kona, Maui, Lahaina, and Kauai. There’s also a dock in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, before finally arriving in Vancouver.
The ship has all the modern amenities you’d expect, including a kids club for ages 3-17, casino, spa, stage and movie theatres, and onboard trip concierge to help you make the most of land excursions. Music fans will find this cruise particularly exciting, as B.B. King’s All-Star Band takes up residence aboard the ship, and the new Rolling Stone Rock Room treats guests to live covers of some of the Stones’ greatest hits.
How about a pit stop in Mexico on your way home from Hawaii? The Zuiderdam is a 17-night cruise that leaves from San Diego and stops by Ensenada, Mexico, for a day on the way home.
Expect 4 cruising days to Hawaii, and then 5 days to enjoy Honolulu, Kauai, Maui, Hilo, and Kona. The ship itself boasts a classical nautical feel with modern finishes and a spectacular collection of art and antiques to enjoy. There’s a little something for everyone, like day trips to the onboard spa, piano lounge, movie theatre, casino, or the Lincoln Centre Stage, where you can hear live renditions of classical and contemporary chamber music while you cruise. And, of course, a kids club.
Celebrity Cruise Line Hawaii Cruises
The Celebrity Eclipse offers two itineraries for Hawaiian cruises, both 11 days each. Depending on the date of your cruise, you can choose either to set sail from Vancouver, British Columbia, and fly home from Hawaii, or meet the ship in Hawaii and cruise home. Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll be treated to the same extensive Hawaiian cruise experience – overnight in Hilo, a day in Kona, overnight in Maui, and then a final day in Oahu.
This ship was extensively refurbished in March of 2020 and offers a staggering 11 bars, lounges, and cafes (including a retro0inspired nightclub, Quasar). Foodies will rejoice in Eclipe’s 10 restaurants and cafes, with offerings ranging from sushi and Italian contemporary to cafes and the Mast Grill. If you like to get dressed up for an evening of dining and dancing and spend your days relaxing, this is an option to explore.
Royal Caribbean International Hawaii Cruise Line cruises
This is a 12-day cruise that starts out easy in Vancouver. After six back-to-back days of ocean cruising, the trip ends with an action-packed excursion schedule that spends one day in Kailua, Kauai, Hilo, and Maui before finally docking in Honolulu.
This is a mid-sized ship with varied dining and good social vibes as well as views, like the view from the 40-ft rock climbing wall towering over the ship. Other features include a spa, outdoor movie nights, and mini-golf.
This nine-night cruise starts off from Vancouver and ends up in Honolulu. It makes an excursion to Seattle on the second day and a docking excursion to Maui in the last two days. At under $900 for an interior room, this is a budget-friendly choice for families or travelers who don’t want to compromise on onboard activities.
Kids can enjoy Splashaway Bay. bumper cars and even a skydiving simulator. Seafaring adventurers will love the unique NorthStar observation capsule, which also holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest viewing deck on a cruise ship. Enjoy cuisine by Jamie Oliver, a poolside snack bar, and envelope-pushing imaginative cuisine at Wonderland.
Wishing you a happy (and safe) cruise
Hopefully, you’re even more pumped for your upcoming trip (or daydreams) for a Hawaii cruise after reading this.
As cruise lines re-open with much excitement and demand from travelers, Hawaii has some great options that are both comprehensive and safely adjusted to COVID-19 Cruise Ship safety guidelines.
Remember that it’s always smart to take a COVID-19 test after returning from travel abroad, including the State of Hawaii. Cruise ships, airports, and crowded tourist hotspots like marketplaces and nightclubs are common locations for spreading viruses like COVID-19 and the flu. Get a COVID test at one of CityHealth’s testing locations, or order a RapidReturn Kit before you leave and test whenever you want!
If you have any experiences with some of the Hawaii cruise lines mentioned, leave a comment below and share your experience, we’d love to hear your recommendations! Mahalo and bon voyage!