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Thoughts on Hawaii cruise


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I'm looking at a cruise to Hawaii round trip from San Francisco or Los Angeles.  Not sure about it.   If you've been on an Hawaii cruise what are your thoughts?  The multiple sea days both direction seem a bit much, was this cruise worth your time and money?   Thanks

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20 minutes ago, zahav1 said:

I'm looking at a cruise to Hawaii round trip from San Francisco or Los Angeles.  Not sure about it.   If you've been on an Hawaii cruise what are your thoughts?  The multiple sea days both direction seem a bit much, was this cruise worth your time and money?   Thanks

That's kind of a "should I order chocolate or pistachio ice cream?" question.  😉

 

For us it was worth it.  I enjoy sea days, my DW tolerates them, but they are unavoidable for Hawai'i unless you want to sail NCL's Pride of America (and her tiny cabins) because of the PVSA law.

 

One difference between LA and San Francisco departures is that San Francisco departures travel more sea miles touching base at Ensenada to comply with that PVSA law.

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We live near San Pedro but sail out of San Francisco because we love sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge and Swan’s Oyster Depot, Yank Sing and Tadich Grill. 

 

I love the sea days. Plenty of activities. One of my favorite cruises was 25 days from Los Angeles to Osaka. 

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My DW and I will sail in January for our 50 anniversary on the Star to Hawaii.  It will be our third Princess cruise to Hawaii.  Our favorite cruise.  We have done many.  Everyone has different  interests, likes and dislikes.  We like the sea days before getting to the Islands.  They allow us to decompress and rest.  There are plenty of activities if you need to stay busy but we enjoy the down time at sea.  We rent a car on each island and run around on our own and have a blast.  The sea days on the way back again for us are restful before we return back to a busy life.  We don't like to return from a vacation feeling like we need a vacation.  However, there is a lot going on, on the ship if thhat is your thing.  You will not get board if you are a person who needs to be entertained.  

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We live in the bay area, prefer longer cruises, and try to avoid flying for every one.  The Hawaii cruises check off all three criteria so we've done several (5 if memory serves) all from San Francisco on Grand, Star and Golden Princess.

 

Here are a few things you might consider making your decision:

 

The cruise is 15 days, basically 5 days there, 4 days in the Islands and 6 days back with a very short service call in Ensenada.  There are a lot of sea days which some people like, and others very much dislike.  The ship is busy when at sea, but if you see the ship as a means to a destination rather than a destination itself, this cruise probably isn't for you.

 

These cruises operate in the fall and winter seasons which mean, best case, the first couple of days and last day will be quite cool on deck.  Hardy souls (we're two) pack hats, gloves and heavy coats and get out there to enjoy it.  Most folks though end up housebound - again the ship is busy with lectures, movies and games indoors - but if you're idea of cruising is a deck chair you'll probably end up missing out on that for several days.  

 

Likewise, it is possible to have days of rain if you happen to sail into a 'pineapple express' storm pattern.  The captain will, to their ability steer around storms but it can be impossible to do so this time of year.  Still, with the weather risks a ship with an enclosed pool (Grand for example) can make good sense.

 

If you enjoy dining on board, the many sea days will give you a chance to experience all of the options.  Dining room lunches, pub lunch, Alfredo's and whatever else appeals to you.

 

Honestly though, I'd ask myself whether 10 sea days appeals to you or not and make the decision mainly based on this.

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My wife and I went on a Hawaii cruise out of Los Angeles three years ago. We have done 30 other cruises, but all have been in the Caribbean or partial Panama Canal cruise. The Hawaii cruise was on the Star Princess and was a great cruise. On sea days there were all of the usual things but also had some special activities and speakers specific to Hawaii. I would go on this cruise again in a heartbeat.

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55 minutes ago, zahav1 said:

I'm looking at a cruise to Hawaii round trip from San Francisco or Los Angeles.  Not sure about it.   If you've been on an Hawaii cruise what are your thoughts?  The multiple sea days both direction seem a bit much, was this cruise worth your time and money?   Thanks

We have done it twice. First time we looked with a few days to go if we could stay on and do a B2B we liked it so much. We do love sea days. For this one you need them to get ready for the port, port port port days. Then you need the ones back to recover from all those back to back port days.

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1 hour ago, zahav1 said:

I'm looking at a cruise to Hawaii round trip from San Francisco or Los Angeles.  Not sure about it.   If you've been on an Hawaii cruise what are your thoughts?  The multiple sea days both direction seem a bit much, was this cruise worth your time and money?   Thanks

We've done a Hawaii round trip on both Princess and Disney.  Yes, I would do it again.  Personally, I like sea days so it was definitely "worth my time & money".

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There is a good assortment of answers here. As a side note, we had bought a sip and sail trip way in advance and then found out that the ship would be in dry dock then.  They offered us space a few weeks earlier, but when we decided to go right away instead, they would not give us the sip part.

 

HOWEVER, the new ticket price was so much lower that we are still "sipping" off the money we saved.  Both sea and port days provide the same benefit of having someone else fix your meals, make the beds, clean the dishes and so forth.  I also recall that the first couple of days out of San Pedro were cold and a bit bumpy.   All in all, our vote is that it is a good trip to add to the mix of your cruises.

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I spend a lot of time in Honolulu during the year.  I've done the LA - Hawaii cruise 5 times and never tire of the cruise.  

 

It's hard to know who your cultural ambassadors will be so far out.  If you are lucky, you will have ELUA to entertain you, offer ukulele lessons, teach you a few hulas, and learn about the culture of the islands.

 

You have to have a mind set that you are vacationing during sea days.  Explore the ship, eat, go to lectures, eat...repeat.  Stay away from the art auctions and be ready to say no to sales pitches at any spa presentations.

 

If it doesn't matter which port, sailing under the SF Golden Gate Bridge is awesome.  Spend a few days in the city before you start your cruise.

 

 

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Absolutely my favorite cruise thus far. I was a bit concerned about all those consecutive sea days, but enjoyed every moment. We found plenty to do and were never bored. I should admit that headed back to Ensenada and then SF, I did get a bit impatient to return. I know the laws mandate a “foreign stop” but wasn’t interested in Ensenada at all. Just my two cents. 

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One other question to ask yourself.  Is only 4 days out of 15 enough time to spend in Hawaii?  We've only done one Hawaii cruise, but specifically did not choose the round trip itinerary because we wanted to spend more time there.  We went with the one way ending up in Honolulu.  We like sea days and would consider the round trip itinerary in the future, but for our first trip, it just wasn't enough time in Hawaii for a 15 night trip.

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We did this cruise (out of San Pedro) last December.  Really enjoyed it. We had been to Hawaii before (not on a cruise ship) and just did unusual things we had not done before.

 

Do you experience all of Hawaii in four port stops? Of course not. But neither do you experience all of a port city area if you cruise elsewhere in the world.

 

And, like others have posted above, a number of others on our roll call had taken this cruise multiple times before.

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I did an 18 day rt from San Diego to Hawaii, and I was concerned before going about the number of sea days.  In my previous cruises, the most sea days I had experienced in a row was 3. I needn't have worried- the sea days were just wonderful and a great way to decompress. I enjoyed every moment of the Hawaiian ambassadors onboard- the lectures about Hawaiian culture, the hula lessons and lei making class.

 

It was my first trip to Hawaii, and a great way to get a feel for the personality of each island we visited. Now I feel more confident about planning a trip to one island for a longer period of time, since I've figured out what I would most enjoy.

 

It is one of my 2 favorite cruises I have taken so far.

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If your aim is a cruise, you will do lots of that!  If your aim is to see Hawaii, then you won't have time for much.  Hawaii is deserving of a land vacation....too much to do even in several weeks!  But, a flight to Hawaii, then a cruise around the islands would give you more time actually IN Hawaii!

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FWIW, our third cruise was on the now long-defunct American Hawaii "Independence" in 1994. [company went bankrupt some years later and eventually NCL's Pride of America started doing this itinerary].  We visited all 5 ports (4 islands), not just the 4 that the Princess cruise does.  The difference is that our ship stopped at both Hilo (east coast) and Kona (west coast) on the Big Island.  Those two ports are quite different as the climate is very different on the two sides of the island.  Princess only stops at Hilo, which does give pax access to the volcano area, but not Kona on the west coast which offers more sunshine, snorkeling opportunities, etc.  We have done 10 TAs and they have 5-7 sea days and 5-6 ports.  So we like sea days, but I don't know how well we'd enjoy the ratio of 11 sea days to 4 port days.  At least it eliminates long flights to and from Hawaii as we've done a number of times to enjoy Hawaii in January--our M.O. was to rent housekeeping lodging and a car on 2 islands on each trip so have now visited every island multiple times.  Have stayed in a variety of locations on each island as well.

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We love this cruise for so many reasons...no flights for us, love the many sea days, love sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge (breathtaking when the fog is rolling in) and it gives you a "taste" of each island so you can COME BACK and visit your favorite island a bit longer than one day.

 

Agree with cr8tv1...if you're lucky, the husband and wife team of ELUA could be onboard. Dave teaches Ukelele...and Leialoha sings, teaches Hula and Lei making.  Her angelic voice will magically calm every inch of your body.  At the end of each cruise, they encourage passengers (who participated in Ukelele and Hula lessons) to perform on stage for other passengers.  Truly awe-inspiring when passengers all join together and sing "Until we Meet again". 

 

Yes, we've done the Hawaii cruise 4 times...two out of San Pedro and two out of San Francisco.  We would be happy to do it again. Aloha and Happy sailing!

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Lots of positive comments here, OP.  We have done the Los Angeles-Hawaii roundtrip twice and number three is booked for January,  So, obviously, you can tell my feelings about this itinerary.

 

Shawn's comments up in post #15 have merit.  So, if you have never been to Hawaii, and you want more immersion, then, by all means, consider flying there an spending a week, or so.

 

It is not clear to me where you live.  In case you are considering spending a few days visiting in the departure city, I think you should give a lot of thought to San Francico.  Frankly, San Francisco us much more visitor friendly than Los Angeles.  The pier is very close to the downtown area and many of the city attractions.  Public transportation is excellent.  It is very easy to get around.  Sadly, Los Angeles, where I live, is incredibly spread out, there is traffic just about 7 X 24 and public transportation is just not that good.  If you don't plan to spend any time in the departure city, then my advice is to look at which combination of cruise and airline fares works out better for you.

 

You'll have a great cruise.

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We like sea days and have been on four Transatlantics, but only one Hawaii cruise, out of LA.  It was in February.  The five sea days over and five sea days back was a lot, for reasons stated below.

 

While I wouldn't say never, we aren't that anxious to do it again.  Perhaps we were just unlucky, but the sea days were mostly quite cool and we had a lot of rain, so many of the outdoor things we like to do were curtailed.  I'd be afraid that from San Francisco the sea days would be even cooler.

 

We have been to Hawaii on land vacations several times, so didn't feel we had missed much by being in ports for just a day.  We rented cars and toured on our own every port except Maui, where we just walked around town and spent time at a nearby--walkable--beach.

 

IMO, the best way to really see Hawaii is to do a land tour and spend some time on multiple islands.  Perhaps if our sea days had been nice and warm and sunny, I'd think differently.

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Thank you for all the replies, so much positive information. We would do out of San Francisco, would come a day before since we've been to SF many time,  we live in northern VA.   I think we'll plan this for next winter of 2021, maybe February or March

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