Travel insights from Andrea Sedlacek, editor of The Compass

4 Ways to Cruise Hawaii

Want to make island-hopping in Hawaii as easy as possible? Do it by ship! Want to avoid the long flight from the mainland U.S. to the islands? You can cruise there! Here are four great ways to experience the Hawaiian Islands via water.

1. 17-Day Circle Hawaii with Holland America Line

This itinerary starts in San Diego, so get there a day early to spend a little time in this beautiful coastal city. Then you’re off for 17 days, starting with a few days at sea onboard Koningsdam, the first of Holland America Line’s Pinnacle-class ships. There’s no chance of getting bored on Koningsdam because there’s plenty of entertainment like Lincoln Center Stage and Billboard Onboard along with great dining options.

First you’ll arrive in Honolulu to stay for a night, sail overnight to Lahaina, then to Hilo, then cruise past Kilauea Volcano on your way to Kona. Bonus destination! On your way back to the mainland, you’ll stop in Ensenada, Mexico – the Pearl of the Pacific. Ensenada is Baja California’s third-largest city and the gateway to Baja California’s wine region.

2. 11-Day O'ahu Explorer Hyatt Waikiki with Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line keeps it on land for a few days on Oahu with tours of a few iconic Hawaiian attractions: the Dole Plantation and Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor, the scenic South Shore and more. Plus you’ll stay at Hyatt Regency Waikīkī Beach Resort and Spa, which has an oceanfront pool among many other amazing amenities. Norwegian is the only cruise line that sails year-round from Honolulu, so they know the destination like no other.

Once you’re at sea, you’ll cruise to Kahului, Maui; Hilo, Hawaii; and then to Kauai – the Garden Isle, which is really beautiful. You’ll cruise past the famous and breathtaking Napali Coast on your way back to Honolulu for a chance to enjoy the city a bit more before you depart for home.

3. 10-Night Hawaii Cruise with Royal Caribbean

Vancouver is another port city to book some extra time in so you can soak in the city views, mountains tops and Pacific coast. Once you’re onboard Ovation of the Seas, one of Royal Caribbean’s most innovative ships, you’ll be dazzled by the robotic bartenders at Bionic Bar, in-house pastas at Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver, aerial acrobatics at Live. Love. Legs. and more. But before you really settle in, there’s a quick stop in Seattle, then you’re off at sea on your way to Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Upon arrival you’ll have an overnight in Maui, giving you time to see Lahaina’s famous banyan tree (one of the largest in the world), shop on Front Street and visit Kaanapali Beach, known as one of America’s best beaches. This dream itinerary ends in Honolulu, completing your full Hawaii experience with this award-winning cruise line.

4. 15-Day Hawaiian Islands with Princess Cruises

Another circle itinerary – how fun! This one starts in Los Angeles, yet another action-packed port city. You know the experience onboard Star Princess will be good, as Princess Cruises has been voted Highest Customer Satisfaction by Travelage West. Watch a movie at night on the pool deck, under the stars, hit up the Vegas-style casino, treat yourself at the Lotus Spa or get away from the kids in The Sanctuary, a retreat for adults only.

Once you get to Honolulu, you’ll have your choice of shore excursions (there are many options to visit Pearl Harbor), then to Kauai (Waimea Canyon can’t be missed), then it’s off to Maui and after that, Hilo on Hawaii Island. Think you’re heading home? Not yet! This itinerary also stops in Ensenada, Mexico before ending up back in Los Angeles.

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