Hawaiian Islands

Want To Know What You Can See & Do On A Hawaii Cruise?

Hawaiian Islands
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Tomorrow I’ll be embarking on my fourth Cruise to Hawaii (A 9-night sailing from Vancouver to Honolulu) & then 4 days after that one ends I’ll be taking my fifth Hawaii Cruise (A 10-night sailing from Honolulu to Vancouver) and no doubt like my last 3 Cruises to this Beautiful State I’m going to love every minute of these sailings as, in my mind, there’s no better way to see these Beautiful Islands than by Cruise Ship! 🙂


A lot of people don’t realize Hawaii is made up of 4 main Islands… Oahu, Maui, Kauai & Hawaii/AKA “The Big Island”.

And yes, there are a lot more Islands that are a part of Hawaii (137 in total/only 7 of them are inhabited) but these 4 are the main ones for tourism. 


Many people fly into Honolulu on Oahu and spend a week on the beach in “Waikiki”.

That’s “Waikiki Beach” in the background of this picture below… once you get there you’ll see “Waikiki” is a Beautiful beach lined with hotels/shops/restaurants and the picturesque “Diamond Head” Volcanic cone in the background!!

Nancy & Shawn review of Waikiki beach
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…or they fly into Maui and do the same thing there and that’s all fine.


BUT… after having vacationed in Hawaii by Cruise Ship three times now and staying in resorts for 5 weeks another time (1 week in each of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Hawaii/AKA “The Big Island” & Molokai) I think you’re not getting the full Hawaii experience by spending time on only 1 Island/in only one place as many people do!


Why, you ask?


Because each of the 4 main Islands are unique from one another, have their own feel and have something new to offer each time you go there.


So, do yourself a favor on your first trip to Hawaii (or next one) & consider taking a Cruise there!


With all that said, if you’re simply not a “Cruiser” and would rather do a “Land Tour” and stay at some of the gorgeous resorts the Islands offer…

…as I talk about here I also book “Tauck” Tours for my clients and they offer this REALLY high-quality tour of the 4 Main Islands that stays at really nice resorts & offers all the highlights like a visit to Pearl Harbor, a Helicopter site-seeing tour, a Luau, etc.!


Below is a picture of Norwegian Cruiseline’s “Pride of America” Cruise ship… I’m showing you this ship as it’s the ONLY ship that can offer the first Hawaii Cruise option I’m about to talk about below.  

us on NCL pride of america in Hawaii review of Pride of America
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FYI, there are 3 main ways you can visit Hawaii on a Cruise Ship:

1. The shortest Cruise you can take in this area (which is a sailing I’ve done twice as you’ll see here under Cruise #s 4 & 61) is where you fly into Honolulu & take a 7 night roundtrip Cruise to Maui/Hilo/Kona/Kauai… it’s operated by Norwegian Cruiseline on their “Pride of America” ship shown above.

As it’s the ONLY ship that operates this itinerary (due to legalities other Cruiselines can’t offer this option as they’d need to have a US-flagged ship which isn’t the norm in the Cruise industry) no need to spend hours shopping around for choices… there are none! 🙂

It’s a really good option though as you spend LOTS of time in each port (over 90 hours in total/compare that to 30 on a Caribbean Cruise)… there are no sea days & you even overnight in Maui & Kauai so you’ll have plenty of time to see all the sites.

And when you add up how much it’d cost to fly from Island to Island (remember I said earlier, I’ve done the “Island Hopping” by planes myself) and stay at nice resorts, pay for food, etc. even though this ship is more costly per day then say a Caribbean Cruise, it’s a GREAT value when compared to other Hawaii options..

…and of course, having to unpack only ONCE is a major highlight!!

FYI, this ship is in Hawaii 365 days per year so you can sail there ANY time of year that’d you’d like to!

With all that said, the one downfall is that Norwegian is a “big ship” line (This ship fits 2,200 guests… which is much smaller than Norwegian’s newer ships that fit 4,000+ guests but there’s still over 2,000 people onboard) so if you’re looking for a small ship/intimate experience this is NOT it… and when on Norwegian, there’s A LOT of “nickel & diming” going on trying to get you to buy food at specialty restaurants, to upgrade your drink package, to buy wifi, to go to the spa, to buy at the shops, to play bingo, etc., etc. 

Overall though, as you’re off the ship A LOT exploring Hawaii, I don’t find this as negative as say a Caribbean “big ship” experience if big ships aren’t your thing as this Cruise is ALL about the destination/not so much about the ship.

If you do like “small ships” usually but decide to give this trip a try, do what most of my clients in the same situation do & get yourself a “Suite” as, as I talk about under this picture, they come with not only more space in your room but some extra “perks” that help make the ship feel a bit smaller & more intimate and to overall make your experience a MUCH better one!!


If you truly are looking for a HIGH-quality trip to Hawaii though & don’t want to do it with 1,000s of others, best to go with this Tauck land tour I mentioned above as it’ll be a much better experience for you!


2. Usually starting in October each year & ending in April you can do 2-week roundtrip Cruises from California… typically from LA or San Diego or San Francisco. And now & then you’ll see a couple of these sailings from/to Vancouver at the start/end of each season. This is a nice option if you LOVE sea days as there are normally 5 going over & 5 coming back and of course you don’t need to do the 5-6 hr flight to Hawaii from the West Coast but you usually spend less than 1/2 the time on the Islands compared to option # 1 and again out of 2 weeks, 10 days of that is at sea so this option isn’t for everyone.

FYI, the majority of these sailings are on Princess & Holland America so “big ship” lines… with that said, “Viking” (Who is in the “Upper Premium”/smaller ship Category of Cruising like “Oceania” as I talk about here) is currently offering 4 sailings each season and now & then you’ll see a “Luxury/Small Ship/All-Inclusive” Cruiseline like Regent/Silversea/Seabourn/Explora offering a sailing like that once a year. FYI, tomorrow I’m doing the first 1/2 of Explora’s sailing to Honolulu but am getting off there rather than coming back to Vancouver as many people onboard will be doing. With that said, I than hop on a Celebrity sailing 4 days later with some family & friends so in theory I’m doing a “round-trip” sailing but not in the traditional way as I mentioned above… I’m actually combing 2 one-way sailings like I talk about below.


3. Every Spring & Fall there are usually “repositioning” 1-way sailings from Hawaii back to Vancouver and every fall they go back to Hawaii… as you’ll see here I did one of these myself almost 20 years ago from Vancouver. I really liked it as it started with 5 relaxing sea days from Vancouver and then I got to enjoy the Islands but I didn’t need to do the 5 days back like in option # 2 so it was a great combination… another pro is you only have to pay for 1 way airfare but again if you’re short on time these are usually 9-10 days minimum so not as short as # 1 if you only have a week off. And, like option 2, you spend less time in the ports compared to option 1.

FYI, most Cruiselines (“Big Ship” lines, “Upper Premium” lines and “Luxury/Small Ship/All-Inclusive” lines) end up offering this option now & then as they move their ships to/from Alaska for the Summer Cruise season there each year. 

**Update** As mentioned at the start of this post, I recently took another Cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii… that was on “Explora Journeys” (AWESOME Cruisline!!), a Small Ship/Luxury/All-Inclusive Cruiseline… you can check out that sailing here

And right after that one, I sailed back to Vancouver onboard “Celebrity Edge”… you can check out that sailing here.


Overall, these above 3 options are all great options and what’s best for you of course depends on your time available/budget, etc. so now that you know your choices feel free to contact me so I can easily help you figure out which Hawaii Cruise option is best for you.



There’s one of many Beautiful scenes you’ll be treated to seeing when you take a Cruise in Hawaii/”Paradise” yourself!! 🙂

Hawaii cruise review 2018
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Alright, now that you know the options for Cruising in Hawaii…


Let’s talk about some of the things to see & do on each Island to help you see that a Cruise really is The Best Option to experience Hawaii instead of simply flying to one Island and missing out on the rest:



Oahu is Hawaii’s most populated & commercial Island… its main city and State capital is “Honolulu”. Honolulu’s main neighborhood is World Famous “Waikiki” which is one of the most popular beach destinations on the planet!

Not only is Waikiki popular for its beach but also for it’s great shopping/restaurants/night-life, etc.


If you do Norwegian’s 7-night roundtrip Cruise from Honolulu or a 1-way Cruise that either starts or ends in Honolulu, MAKE SURE to fly in as early before your Cruise/or fly out as late after your Cruise as your budget allows!!

For example, last time I started a Cruise in Honolulu I flew in on a Monday for my Saturday Cruise spending 5 nights prior… for my 1st Cruise there 17 years ago I spent 3 nights there before I sailed & for my Vancouver to Honolulu Cruise 15 years ago I spent 2 nights there after my sailing… and next week after my Cruise I’ll be there for 4 nights. Point being, there’ll be LOTS to see & do no matter how many days you spend in Honolulu so DON’T sell yourself short by flying in/out right before/after your Cruise as you’ll be missing out on experiencing this Beautiful Island as most of the Cruise itineraries give you NO time to explore here!


Some of my favourite things to do on Oahu are:

  1. Enjoy Waikiki Beach
  2. Hike up Diamond Head
  3. Hike to “Manoa Falls”
  4. Take a drive up to the North Shore to see where some of the World’s best surfing takes place & visit the huge sea turtles
  5. Snorkel in Hanauma Bay
  6. Spend the day at Kualoa Ranch
  7. Visit the Polynesian Culture Centre 
  8. Visit Pearl Harbour
  9. Hike straight uphill for 1,050 steps on the “Koko Crater Railway Trail”


Here are a few pictures of the fun I’ve had in Oahu over the years:

Oahu's famous "Waikiki Beach
**Click/Tap Image to expand** There’s Oahu’s famous “Waikiki Beach”!
Diamond head in Honolulu, Hawaii
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The views of Waikiki Beach from Diamond Head
**Click/Tap Image to expand** The views of “Waikiki Beach” from “Diamond Head” are second to none… well worth the 30-minute hike to get to enjoy this scenery!!
Manoa Falls in Oahu, Hawaii
**Click/Tap Image to expand** “Manoa Falls”
Oahu's North Shore
**Click/Tap Image to expand** The scenery is pretty spectacular as you drive up to Oahu’s North Shore!!
Turtles on Oahu's North Shore
**Click/Tap Image to expand** You may even get to see some of these guys when you get to the top of the Island! 🙂
ATV rides at Kualoa Ranch
**Click/Tap Image to expand** At Kualoa Ranch I enjoyed an ATV ride, a Horseback Ride, a “Jungle Tour”, a scenic boat ride, etc. A FUN place to spend a day for sure! 🙂
**Click/Tap Image to expand** There’s the “Pear Harbor” Memorial.
**Click/Tap Image to expand** A visit to the “Polynesian Cultural Centre” is not only a lot of fun but it’s educational as well as you learn about other destinations in this part of the World like Tahiti, Fiji, etc. and it’s the perfect time to experience a World-Famous “Hawaiian Luau”! 🙂
Koko Crater Railway Trail in Oahu, Hawaii
**Click/Tap Image to expand** “Koko Crater Railway Trail”

Did you know? 

Honolulu’s home Island, Oahu, is part of the largest mountain range in the world- most of which is underwater. Interesting, right!! 😉




Hawaii cruise review 2018
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Maui is the second largest Island of the Hawaiian chains… after Oahu, it is also the second most visited of all the Hawaiian Islands… and even though its population is only around 15% of Oahu’s, it receives around 2/3 the amount of visitors as Oahu does each year so Maui is a VERY popular place!!


Which is no surprise since it’s home to pineapple plantations, sugar cane museums, cattle ranches, rain forests and the world’s largest dormant Volcano called “Haleakala”. 

It is estimated that 50% of the World’s humpback whales return to Maui’s warm waters yearly.


Some of my favourite things to do in Maui are:

  1. Take in a Sunrise or Sunset at Haleakala
  2. Drive the “Road to Hana”
  3. Go snorkeling at Molokini
  4. Enjoy the “Feast of Lele” Luau
  5. Drive the North Shore
  6. Visit historic Lahaina
  7. Relax at one of it’s MANY Beautiful beaches


Here are some pictures of beautiful Maui that I’ve taken during my multiple visits over the years:

**Click/Tap Image to expand** I have to say, experiencing a sunrise from high up on “Haleakala” is a VERY memorable experience!!
**Click/Tap Image to expand** Not only does “The Road to Hana” offer beautiful Ocean scenery & chances to hike bamboo paths, to waterfalls, etc. but on the road itself you’ll get to see some pretty “lush” sites like above!
**Click/Tap Image to expand** Snorkelling at “Molokini” is a unique/fun experience as the crescent-shaped volcanic crater is not only unique to see in person but it provides perfect shelter which makes for nice & calm waters to swim in!
**Click/Tap Image to expand** Like other Luaus “The Feast at Lele” has some great performances, including a fire show, but it’s a much “classier” Luau as it’s not buffet style, you can book tables for 2, etc. so overall a much nicer/more romantic experience! 🙂
Hawaii cruise review 2018
**Click/Tap Image to expand** I didn’t claim the “North Shore” drive was a straight one! 😉
**Click/Tap Image to expand** With that said, the scenery you see along that drive is pretty impressive!!
Maui beaches
**Click/Tap Image to expand** Beautiful beaches in Maui are definitely something you WON’T have a hard time coming across!! 😉



Hawaii: AKA “The Big Island”

Hawaii cruise review 2018
**Click/Tap Image to expand** “Black Sand” beach on “The Big Island”

This Hawaiian Island’s population is about 200,000… the least populated Island per square mile… but, it’s called “The Big Island” as it is more than twice the size of all the other Islands combined.

The city of Kona, located on the West side of the Big Island, means “leeward side” in Hawaiian and is known for its great coffee and big fish!

Captain Cook landed here in 1778 while seeking shelter from the winter months and make no wonder why… the natural Beauty of it all before being developed must have been stunning!

Here on “The Big Island” you can soak up the sun on its stunning beaches of white and black sand (see pic directly above), enjoy waterfalls, volcanoes, sea turtles, seahorse farms and much more.


Did you know?

“The Big Island” is getting bigger by approximately 42 acres each year because of the continuous eruption of the Kilauea Volcano. It’s been erupting for 40 years.


Did you also know?

  • The annual Ironman World Championship starts in Kailua-Kona each October and is known as the best triathlon in the world…………….
  • The city of Hilo, located on the East side of the Big Island, is the second largest city in Hawaii and is known as the “Orchid Capital”…………………
  • Hilo is America’s wettest city getting an annual rainfall of 120 inches and is the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where Kilauea has been continuously erupting since 1984 and although most of it is in the ocean, its entirety is taller than Mt Everest


Here is what I enjoyed doing the most on “The Big Island”:

Hilo– Visited Volcano National Park & the Lava Tubes, went to “Akaka Falls” & “Rainbow Falls”, checked out the “Liliuokalani Gardens” (One of the largest Japanese Gardens outside of Japan!)

Kona– Snorkeled at “Turtle Bay”, Catamaran Cruise, Waterfalls Hike, Beach Day, swam with Manta Rays, Chocolate factory & Coffee Factory Visit.

…and here are a few pics:

Nancy & Shawn's hawaii cruise review
**Click/Tap Image to expand** A visit to “Hawaii Volcanoes National Park” is a must when in Hilo!
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Lava tubes at Hawaii volcano national park in Hilo
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Akaka Falls in Hilo, Hawaii
**Click/Tap Image to expand** “Akaka Falls” near Hilo, Hawaii
Rainbow Falls in Hilo, Hawaii
**Click/Tap Image to expand** “Rainbow Falls” in Hilo, Hawaii
Liliuokalani Gardens/Japanese Gardens in Hilo, Hawaii
**Click/Tap Image to expand** “Liliuokalani Gardens” in Hilo, Hawaii
**Click/Tap Image to expand** “Hanging around” turtles while snorkeling in Kona… it doesn’t get much better than that! 😉
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Swimming with Manta Rays in Kona, Hawaii
**Click/Tap Image to expand** Swimming with Manta Rays in Kona, Hawaii is a crazy “magical” experience that I’ve done twice now but it only happens at night/few Cruises overnight in Kona so if you want to do this you need to be very picky with the itinerary you choose!




Nancy and shawn's review of Kauai Hawaii cruise
**Click/Tap Image to expand** Kauai/AKA: The “Garden Island” is my favorite of the Hawaiian Islands… so tranquil & peaceful there!! 🙂

Kauai has a population of approximately 75,000 people.

It is the oldest and most northern of the Hawaiian Islands famous for Waimea Canyon, its mountains & valleys and MANY beaches.

It is also the smallest of the four major Islands.

Kauai is a special place because it is still much like it was when the first Polynesians settled here. No building is allowed to be built taller than the coconut trees.

Overall, I’d have to say Kauai is my favorite Island as to me the “Garden Island” is what I imagine Hawaii was like before it was all developed decades & decades ago… quiet, romantic, peaceful… what else could you want when “getting away from it all”! 😉 


Did you know?

Kauai has more beaches, rivers, streams and waterfalls than any other Hawaii Island.


What to do here:

Visit Waimea Canyon

Hike Napali Coast

Helicopter over the Island

A few pictures of this stunning Island…

**Click/Tap Image to expand** The “Napali Coast” is definitely a stunning site to experience in person!!
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Waimea Canyon
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Note:  A side note about The Napali coast… she is best visited in 3 ways- by sky, land and sea… which is simply another reason why Cuising in Hawaii is SO amazing as you have the “sea part” covered

…and, not only did our ship sail by the Napali Coast “really slow” so we could admire it and take dozens of pictures, our ship also experienced a true “Hawaiian Blessing” from a local expert as we approached and he gave us commentary the entire time too!  

It is a highlight of a Cruise in this area for sure. 🙂


TIP: And speaking of the sky, on multiple islands you can do a Helicopter ride- if in budget, they’re incredible!!

I loved the one I did on Kauai as seeing the Napali Coast “from above” is for sure a SPECIAL experience!!

Unbiased Hawaii cruise review 2018
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Well, there you go… that was a look at some of the wonderful things you can experience on the Islands while taking a Cruise in Hawaii.


Have more questions or want to book a Hawaii Cruise for yourself?


If so, any questions or to get booked on a Hawaii Cruise contact me & I’ll be happy to share more of my Hawaii experiences to help you decide the best Cruise option for you & I’ll help you get your next exciting Cruise Vacation booked. 🙂


Or as I mentioned earlier in this post… if you’re simply not a “Cruiser” but still want to go to Hawaii and would rather do a “Land Tour” and stay at some of the gorgeous resorts the Islands offer…

…as I talk about here I also book “Tauck” Tours for my clients and they offer this REALLY high-quality tour of the 4 Main Islands that stays at really nice resorts & offers all the highlights like a visit to Pearl Harbor, a Helicopter site-seeing tour, a Luau, etc.!


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Shawn Power
Your Trusted Cruise & Tauck Tour Expert!

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