So you're thinking about taking a cruise to or from Hawaii? The call of warm weather, diverse culture, and excellent food sways millions of people every year to visit Hawaii. Cruises to and from the islands are plentiful, but what do you need to know before booking one? AOL Travel gives you a few friendly pointers.
Hawaii Cruises: Know Your Options
You have several options to consider when planning your cruise to Hawaii. First, you need to know that if you want to cruise exclusively around the different islands of Hawaii, you're going to have to resort to Norwegian Cruise Line's (NCL) Pride of America due to the long-standing Jones Act. (While part of the problem is with the act itself, it should be noted that the lack of creation of other American-registered passenger ships plays an important role.) If you sail with NCL, you'll have the option to visit four different Hawaiian ports after sailing out of Honolulu. Of course, you'll want to take advantage of this time to see all the splendors that Hawaii has to offer. The downside of such a trip may be the expensive cost of airfare to Hawaii and back.
Your other option for a Hawaii cruise is to sail from the mainland, either going roundtrip or one-way. Roundtrip itineraries often push two weeks long, which means you'll likely need to plan more time for your vacation. If you go the one-way route, you'll definitely want to determine if your cruise carrier will include one-way flight back to the mainland. (It's usually cheaper to get a cruise and airfare package than buying them separately.) Finally, it's possible that you can catch a one-way trip to or from Hawaii via cruise ship by catching the rare repositioning voyage. As many ships make seasonal moves to other waters, you may be able to catch a Hawaii cruise this way if you're diligent.
Hawaii Cruises: Know Your Desires
• Do I want to start my cruise in Hawaii or start it elsewhere, sailing to Hawaii?
• Do I want to stop at several ports in Hawaii?
• Do I care what kind of room I get on the cruise ship?
• Do I want to stay and enjoy a Hawaii vacation before or after the cruise?
• How flexible is my travel schedule?
• What time of year do I want to go to Hawaii?
As discussed in the previous section, there are many different cruises to Hawaii, but only one real option for a strictly Hawaiian cruise. What you wish to do may be affected by your budget, so keep that in mind as well. For example, Hawaii cruises are more expensive in December, January, and much of the summer.
Hawaii Cruises: Know Your Tools
There are many Hawaii cruise deals to be found, but it can sometimes be daunting finding them. Here are some of the most useful tools for helping you find information about a Hawaii cruise:
• Booking Buddy: It's relatively easy to compare prices on Hawaii cruises through this search aggregator. Simply enter your destination, departure time, cruise line, and length. The site then aggregates cruise deals together from all the major online players. You can see the deals available from each entity by simply clicking through the tabs at the top of the page that opens.
• Orbitz: Orbitz' Hawaii cruise deals apparently aren't fed into Booking Buddy's feed, so I'm also including it here.
• Cruise Critic: Whether you're a first time cruiser looking for more information or a veteran cruiser looking for travel deals on Hawaii cruises, Cruise Critic has been helping travelers for years.
Photo by Bruce Tuten from Flickr