LONG HAUL CRUISING- HEADING FOR HAWAII

Sailing out to Hawaii can be amazingly relaxing

Sailing out to Hawaii can be amazingly relaxing

However you get there, few would argue that Hawaii is one of the most alluring and seductive holiday vacation places on earth.

For our American friends, the islands are a five hour flight from Los Angeles; about the same as a flight from the UK to Egypt. And, as an American state, Hawaii offers all the comforts of home, wrapped up in a spectacular montage of brilliant beaches, surf and swaying palms, and even the odd mild, volcanic eruption.

For Europeans, it is not so easy to achieve, and realistically has to be done as part of a two centre holiday, usually with Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or even San Francisco. The long haul out from Europe to the west coast of the United States alone is twelve hours. And if your journey starts at a regional airport, longer still. That’s before you add on the extra transit time, and the additional five hour haul out to Honolulu.

Any way you serve it up, it’s one hell of a hike. Add on the cost of hotels- especially on Oahu- and you’re looking at a perfect storm of long, tetchy flights and a skyrocketing holiday cost. And that’s before you even begin to think about food, drink, and fun stuff.

Bottom line? It’s a long, hard journey, and not by any means a cheap gig once you get there.

Enjoy the lido lifestyle at sea en route to Hawaii

Enjoy the lido lifestyle at sea en route to Hawaii

Or, you could think of doing Hawaii by cruise ship. From Los Angeles and sometimes San Diego, cruise ships from Carnival, Princess and Holland America make a fourteen day round trip out to Hawaii and back, usually in the spring and autumn.

For both Americans and Europeans, these come with a number of pros and cons. For a start, it is a four day sail out- there and back- to the islands of Hawaii. That’s a lot of sea days. Bliss for some, but not for everyone.

And, just because you are on the sparkling Pacific, don’t imagine that it will always be as calm as a millpond. It won’t. And, being a cruise, most of these voyages do not stop overnight at any of the islands (though one or two make an overnight stop in Honolulu) So what you’ll see of the islands is rather more in the nature of snapshots, than an in depth experience.

On the other hand, you’re travelling in a safe, sealed environment, with all of your main meals and snacks included in the cost. That in itself is a huge financial saving. And, compared to cruises in Europe, a Hawaii cruise comes out pretty good, price wise.

For a more in depth, but still relatively economical option, you can fly into Oahu, and take a week long cruise from the centre of Honolulu itself. Norwegian Cruise Line has the Pride Of America cruising year round in the islands. And, unlike other ships, she offers longer stays, plus one or two overnights in port on each cruise.

Though you are still making the long flights out to Hawaii (and, indeed, back) there is always the option to break your journey on the west coast, either on the way out, the way back or, indeed, both. You could fly out via San Francisco, for instance, and come back via Las Vegas if the fancy takes you.

Carnival usually has a couple of spring and autumn round trip cruises to Hawaii

Carnival usually has a couple of spring and autumn round trip cruises to Hawaii

Personally, I would also have a couple of days in Honolulu itself, either pre or post cruise. It seems to me that a couple of days at least is needed to slide easily into that whole dreamy, aloha kind of vibe.

On this cruise, you actually spend very little real time sailing per se. The Pride Of America is, essentially, a floating hotel that changes the scenery each night. A typical Norwegian product with a very American emphasis, she is crammed with good things and fun stuff to do for your nights on board. Good for single passengers, too, as she boasts a few of the solo occupancy studio cabins, at a fairly decent price point.

There is no getting around the sheer logistical train wreck of travelling out to Hawaii and back, however you decide to do it. But if seeing these fabled islands is on your bucket list- and it should be- then you will bite the bullet, and do it anyway. That being so, one of these cruise options might just be the thing for you. Enjoy.

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