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Hawaii Cruise Planning Tips

Hawaii beach resort; Pixabay Creative Commons license
Hawaii beach resort; Pixabay Creative Commons license

Hawaii cruises are unlike many other cruise destinations. Cruise passengers can pay the same amount for a seven-night cruise as a 15-night cruise.

Who wouldn’t want to take a 15-night cruise for the same price as a seven-night? It almost sounds too good to be true. But it actually is true for an odd reason.

The six-day, seven-night cruises usually disembark from Honolulu. The 14-day, 15-night cruises usually disembark from Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco. Hawaii is an expensive state for everything.

A search on a major travel booking site found that October was the most popular month for a Hawaiian cruise followed by January:

  • January - 11 cruises
  • February - 5
  • March - 7
  • April - 8
  • May - 6
  • June - 4
  • July - 5
  • August - 4
  • September - 5
  • October - 15
  • November - 9
  • December - 8

Out of 86 total cruises, 50 lasted six to nine nights, seven lasted 10 to 14 nights and 29 lasted more than 14 nights.

Ports of Call

Other than the length of time, the differences between California embarkations and Honolulu embarkations are minor.

Hawaii cruises that leave from the California coast on a 14-day, 15-night cruise will visit ports such as the cities of Honolulu, Hilo and Port Allen and the small city of Lahaina on the island of Maui. Because of the distance between California and Hawaii, the cruise ships often spend four days at sea going to Hawaii and another five days on the return to California.

After subtracting nine total days at sea, anyone who cruises to Hawaii from California will spend about five days in port.

Cruise ships that disembark from Hawaii ports—usually Honolulu—may visit more or different ports among the islands. Besides, Hilo and Maui, other ports include Nawiliwili and the Napali coast. These cruises usually spend only one day at sea. After subtracting that day, anyone who takes a six-day, seven-night cruise starting in Hawaii will also spend about five days visiting ports of call.

Hawaii Cruise Budgeting

Cruise visitors to Hawaii who have two weeks of vacation time and like the idea of spending nine days at sea may choose the California option on its own merit. Others who have only a week of vacation or don’t like to spend much time at sea may want to fly into Honolulu to begin their cruise.

Even though ticket prices for California to Hawaii cruises are cheaper, cruise passengers will pay more taxes and fees as well as more of the service tips on a 14-day, 15-night cruise.

Taxes and fees on cruises out of Honolulu may cost around $180 (with prices subject to change). Taxes and fees for cruises from California may cost about $220 to $250, which is more in total but less on a per-night basis.

Many cruise lines now make tipping mandatory for most passengers except for top-level cabins. Tipping averages about $15 to $20 per person per night.

On the flip side, anyone who flies out to Hawaii from the North American continent just to take a cruise will pay more for airline tickets.

All of this means that cruise planners should add up the following costs to see which option costs more per night:

  • Cruise ticket
  • Taxes and fees
  • Mandatory tipping
  • Airline flight
  • Hotel stays before and after the cruise
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
June 21, 2022

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