Considering Hawaii...thoughts and advice?

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#1
Virgina
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Joined Feb 2007
We are thinking of a 15 day round trip from LA/San Francisco in late December 2019. Our oldest would be in his senior year of college, and his younger brother, 15. We have sailed Princess before and have sailed over Christmas with Carnival, but never New Years. And never more than 7 days at a time. Both boys are experienced cruisers and know how to entertain themselves. I have spent 10 days between Ohau and Kauai, but Hawaii will be new to DH and the kids. I realize it will just be a taste for them, but better a taste than nothing!

I know the schedule is not out that far, but I am a planner... I have read a few threads with information on Hawaii at this time of year with teens but they were all 5+ years old.

What thoughts and advice would you give us, selecting and taking our first 2 week cruise? We travel light, so I know without our Carnival Platinum perks we will be doing laundry. But what should we expect from food - is there such a thing as a 15 day menu? And what about entertainment, because I know they can't be bringing on fresh performers with 5 straight sea days! What else is different about traveling from home for this long? (I'm afraid the dog might divorce us!).

Any insights you have would be much appreciated!
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#2
Georgetown, Kentucky, USA
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My wife and I sailed aboard the Carnival Spirit on a 15-day cruise from San Diego back in 2012 and it was, by far, our best cruise to date! Yes...there is a 15-day menu. And everything on it was fantastic! We truly enjoyed the 4 days at sea going to Hawaii and the 4 days coming back. We sailed in April and the weather was a little rough leaving SD but turned very nice 2 days after setting sail. I highly recommend the 15-day cruises! Would love to do it again!

Bill
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#3
So CAL
3,198 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
I am so glad you are considering a round trip voyage from California to Hawaii and back. You will get many different views since this seems to be a favorite. Who will be your cultural ambassadors will determine which port and ship you sail on on/from. Unfortunately, that information is generally not released until late summer of the year you are traveling.

I am partial to ELUA/San Pedro. There will be guest lecturers every day. Some will talk about the ports. Some will discuss weather/astronomy/volcanoes/etc. You will have 3 formal nights and lots of sea days. I love sea days. The cruise director will schedule Hawaii themed activities like lei making.

As for the islands. Best to rent a car for each island.

Hilo: Hawaii Volcano National Park (doesn't sound as if you are old enough for the senior pass that is about to rise in cost).

Honolulu: Pearl Harbor (free reservation tickets online). A nice drive around the island. Be sure to partake in all of the great cultural foods.

Maui: Too early for whale watching. Might see a few. If you are adventurous enough, book a zodiac tour to see the whales. I would not recommend leaving the Lahaina area by car. There is only one main highway that leads to the other side of town. One accident/brush fire could delay you and miss the last tender (this is usually your last port too). I would save the rest of Maui for a land tour.

Kauai: Helicopter ride to see the NaPali Coastline. Or rent a car to drive up to Waimea Canyon and tour the island by yourself.

So much to see. So little time. But as you mentioned, you are going with the attitude that this is better than never going.

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#4
Virgina
3,964 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by cr8tiv1
I am so glad you are considering a round trip voyage from California to Hawaii and back. You will get many different views since this seems to be a favorite. Who will be your cultural ambassadors will determine which port and ship you sail on on/from. Unfortunately, that information is generally not released until late summer of the year you are traveling.

I am partial to ELUA/San Pedro. There will be guest lecturers every day. Some will talk about the ports. Some will discuss weather/astronomy/volcanoes/etc. You will have 3 formal nights and lots of sea days. I love sea days. The cruise director will schedule Hawaii themed activities like lei making.

As for the islands. Best to rent a car for each island.

Hilo: Hawaii Volcano National Park (doesn't sound as if you are old enough for the senior pass that is about to rise in cost).

Honolulu: Pearl Harbor (free reservation tickets online). A nice drive around the island. Be sure to partake in all of the great cultural foods.

Maui: Too early for whale watching. Might see a few. If you are adventurous enough, book a zodiac tour to see the whales. I would not recommend leaving the Lahaina area by car. There is only one main highway that leads to the other side of town. One accident/brush fire could delay you and miss the last tender (this is usually your last port too). I would save the rest of Maui for a land tour.

Kauai: Helicopter ride to see the NaPali Coastline. Or rent a car to drive up to Waimea Canyon and tour the island by yourself.

So much to see. So little time. But as you mentioned, you are going with the attitude that this is better than never going.

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No...lol...we are not old enough for the Senior National Parks pass...but we usually have the one for us regular folks as we have done a lot of the continental US parks.

Volcanoes NP is a given for Hilo...that's on the buclet list. So renting and going on your own is best...the $100 plus per person tours with Princess seem a tad pricey for what you get. And yes, we will rent a car on Ohau and swing by diamond head, go to the north shore, stop for some local poke etc. Same in Kauai - amazing to see the canyon and rainforest/waterfalls in such a short distance.

Can you give me more insight on Maui though? I have watched some travel shows, looked at what is offered from the cruise line, and nothing spectacular jumps out at me, other than the zodiac. Would we see whales that way at Christmas time? One of the best tours we have ever done was a private whale watch with Harv and Marv in Juneau and would love another up close experience, so that would be a contender. But are we "missing Maui" if we do that?
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#5
San Diego
4,690 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
We have sailed to Hawaii 3 times and are booked for the 4th.

The first was on Holland America, and the next 2 were on Princess. The upcoming is with Carnival.
PCL is a good fit for us--we are seniors--but we are taking the 5 year old granddaughter, and our DS and DIL wanted CCL for the kids activities.

As CR8 has mentioned--Pearl Harbor is a given. DH does not want to bother driving (Honolulu has bad traffic issues) so we take ships tours.
We have taken the North Shore tour, and privately Germaine's Luau. It is so great, we are doing it again.

Hilo, I agree, Volcanoes Nat'l Park is good. Also Akaka and Rainbow Falls, Land of Frozen Fire.


Maui--not sure how many whales are around in Dec.
Maui is our favorite place, and we usually take ships tours there. We have been to Haleakala Park, the Maui Ocean Center, I think you can take a ferry to Lanai, and depending how late your ship stays--The Olde Lahaina Luau.

Kaui--Waimea Canyon, Wailua/ RiverFern grotto, Napali Coast, waterfalls, friends did ziplining.

PCL doesn't go to Kona anymore, but CCL does. We have seen the Seahorse Farm, Glass bottom boat, snorkeling, Kona coffee.

As with Alaska, it gets in your blood, and you have to go back.

Patti
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#6
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Joined Aug 2013
The Hawaii Port of Call Forum may provide you info that could be an interest for DH and kids.


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#7
Virgina
3,964 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by easyboy
The Hawaii Port of Call Forum may provide you info that could be an interest for DH and kids.


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Thanks. I will certainly check there for ports of call stuff, but decided to post here since my questions are really broader about considerations specific to Princess and the longer cruises which will be new to us. I am thinking I might have to pry DH white knuckled, kicking and screaming from the balcony upon our return....
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#8
Loveland, Colorado
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Joined Mar 2005
We cruised, in February, on the Star out of San Pedro and had the best cruise ever. We had a different menu selection every night. The food and service was very good. As far as entertainment goes, we did have several options as the ship did have new acts come in after the crossing, during the island cruising, and then again the final sea days. We had lots going on so didn't make every venue.

We go to Hawaii every other year (timeshare) and I travel there for work so we get to see the islands a little more frequently so our plans differ than some. On Oahu and Kauai, we just go to a favorite beach and chill. On Oahu we rented a car and drove to Ko Olina and got a room for the day at Marriott Ko Olina resort. In retrospect, we should have gone to a luau there because Paradise Cove is right there. On Kauai, where we have our timeshare, we just walked to the beach at Nawiliwili for the day. We like to hike Napali Coast but there is not enough time during a cruise. On Maui we did the walking tour which was very interesting and educational. The big Island was the lava flows and Macadamia farm.

The whales show up around late November and stay till April, but the best viewing will be mid January through February.

We can't wait to take another 15 day Hawaii cruise. For us the sea days are great and the destination is always a plus.

I should have mentioned, Pearl Harbor, Diamondhead, and the North Shore are all spectacular to visit. Others have mentioned the great places on the other islands. Pearl Harbor has, of course, the Arizona Memorial but also is very close to the Bowfin (submarine) and the Mighty Mo (Missouri) which was the ship the Japanese signed their surrender.

Have fun.
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#9
So CAL
3,198 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Can you give me more insight on Maui though? I have watched some travel shows, looked at what is offered from the cruise line, and nothing spectacular jumps out at me, other than the zodiac. Would we see whales that way at Christmas time? One of the best tours we have ever done was a private whale watch with Harv and Marv in Juneau and would love another up close experience, so that would be a contender. But are we "missing Maui" if we do that?

As mentioned, "A" whale has shown up as early as late October/Early November. You may or may not see many whales. This is the big draw to Maui.

Other excursions in and around Maui (again, I am too conservative/chicken to leave the area):

I don't do water stuff (even though I grew up on the islands...haha).

Snorkeling at Molokini crater
Kaanapali has a nice aquarium
Ioa Needle is now open after being destroyed in last winter's rains.

A ferry ride to Lana'i is probably your one chance to visit Larry Ellison's island. Very old Hawaii except for the two mega resorts. I can say that I've been to all the islands except Ni'ihau and Kaho'olawe.

If you can find a tour from Oahu/Maui to Kalaupapa, Moloka'i.....that is something that is worth a once in a life time experience.



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#10
pa
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Joined Dec 2007
If you enjoy sea days you should enjoy the Hawaii Itinerary. Be informed that the first two to three days going to Hawaii and the last few days of the return are not tropical sit around the pool weather. Seas can also be choppy.
#11
Arizona
1,128 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
Dh & I have taken Princess round trip from LA - twice. First one was 14 days and the second one was 15 days. First one was in April and the second was in October. We enjoyed both but the October one seemed a bit calmer and warmer.

We lived on Oahu for several years(military). Our favorite island is Kauai.
Kauai has an aura about it that is so nice. We usually do not do tours as we like to walk around.
We have taken a tour to see the volcanos on Hilo and Waimea Valley tour on the big island.

We love the sea days. Some do not.

Enjoy your cruise!!
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#12
Columbia, Md
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My cousin spends the month of December in Maui and usually does a whale watching tour. There may not be as many as Jan/Feb but there are whales or she wouldn't bother doing it most years.

I also agree that renting a car on the islands except Maui is a good idea. We have done this before and it is easy. Lots of nice scenery to see and you don't need a tour guide.
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#13
So CAL
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Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by dickinson
My cousin spends the month of December in Maui and usually does a whale watching tour. There may not be as many as Jan/Feb but there are whales or she wouldn't bother doing it most years.

I also agree that renting a car on the islands except Maui is a good idea. We have done this before and it is easy. Lots of nice scenery to see and you don't need a tour guide.
I guess I am out of a job.
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#14
Columbia, Md
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Originally posted by cr8tiv1
I guess I am out of a job.
Ha Ha Ha!
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#15
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I live on Maui! I have to agree, if Lahaina is your only stop on Maui, it may be best to stay on the West side. There is indeed only one road between West Maui & the rest of the island, and if there is a wreck on the highway you could get stuck on the wrong side. Summer is the dry season and more the time for fires, but that could also get you stuck if they have to close the road.

There should be good whale watching at New Years. The best time is late January to early February, but New Years should be good as well. It is tradition for my family to go out on a whale watch every Christmas day.... and we always see whales then!

Pacific Whale Foundation (office right in Lahaina town, across the Banyan Tree) has a variety of boats. They will have a naturalist on board to talk about the whales, and they often put a microphone in the water to hear their song. They communicate among their fleet to go where the whales are spotted, so almost guaranteed you'll see some action. If you do a snorkel tour to Molokini you will likely see whales on the way out there. Captain Steve's zodiac whale watches are fun and adventurous ~~ you're in a much smaller boat than with Pacific Whale Foundation. Some years you can watch the whales jumping from shore and don't even need to go out...but you never can tell what the season's going to be like.

Front Street in Lahaina is fun to walk (touristy shops) and the Banyan Tree park is nice. There is Baldwin Home museum right in town, and the old prison a block off Front Street has a museum I beleive. Lots of good places to eat -- I recommend Cool Cats. If you get over to Kaanapali (still on West Side, but not walking distance from the port), there is a museum at the Whalers Village Shops that exhibits things about Maui's whaling days. It's closed right now for renovations; I'd check the internet for re-opening.

IF you are also docking at Kahului, then there are all kinds of things to do on over on this side. The summit of Haleakala, the Pineapple Tour, Paia town, Makawao, the winery in Ulupalakua.

Don't know where you'll be on the actual night of New Year's, but I can tell you, the locals LOVE fireworks at New Years!!!
Aloha nui loa!
#16
Calimesa, CA
4,775 Posts
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Originally posted by sassyredhat
As CR8 has mentioned--Pearl Harbor is a given. DH does not want to bother driving (Honolulu has bad traffic issues) so we take ships tours.Patti
Take "Da Bus"!!!
Senior fare is $1.00 with a Medicare card. Regular fare is $2.50? Short walk to the bus stop, maybe 3 blocks? 45 minutes to Pearl. When we went our total cost was $3.00 each.
#17
southern california
288 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
I would be very interested in renting a car in Kauai. How does it work? Do you take a cab to the car rental agencies, or does a rep meet you at the pier?

Thanks.
#18
So CAL
3,198 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by 1emerald1
I would be very interested in renting a car in Kauai. How does it work? Do you take a cab to the car rental agencies, or does a rep meet you at the pier?

Thanks.
Most often: You rent a car online. There are representatives who will shuttle you to the a location to pick up a car. Keep in mind that usually only one passenger is allowed to ride the shuttle due to volume. You will need to return the car to the venue and get shuttled back. Lots of rules about getting to the dock to pick up the rest of the family (you will need your cruise card and ID) or they will need to walk out to the gate.

This all takes time and cuts into your visit to the islands.

Hilo and Kauai are short ports since the ship needs to navigate the breakwater during daylight hours.
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#19
Columbia, Md
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I've rented a car 2x on Kauai through Hawaii Discount car rental. Both times with Dollar. Each time the shuttle picked us both up. Once was near end of Oct and the other was in February. Get off ship early to beat the crowds and have more time sightseeing.
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#20
southern california
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Joined Jan 2014
Thanks for the input. I have been to Kauai twice on land vacations and of course rented a car, and I do remember they have traffic delays late afternoon in Lihue, so will have to think about this as no one wants to miss the ship!