These 7 Cruises Make It Easy to Explore Hawaii on Your Next Vacation

Here are our picks for some of the best Hawaii cruises.

The islands of Hawaii are favorite destinations for families, couples, retirees, and groups of friends— really for anyone who enjoys warm weather, tropical scenery, and the welcoming culture of the 50th state. Each island is different in climate, attractions, environment, and style, and even on the same island, there are major variations depending on location. On Oahu, for example, there's bustling Honolulu in the south and the more secluded surfing paradise on the north shore. On the Big Island, the Kona coast is dry and warm, unlike Hilo on the other side of the island with its wet, lush environment.

Norwegian Cruise Line - Hawaii Inter-island from Honolulu
Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

There's much to see and do, and visitors, especially first-timers, want to experience it all. A cruise vacation is one way to accomplish that goal. Cruises to Hawaii from California and Canada (or just within the state) provide time on several of the islands. The convenience of eliminating airports, hotel changes, and local transportation is a plus. Some travelers may plan to return to the islands they enjoyed most, and others will be thrilled that they experienced a destination they've always wanted to visit.

These are some examples of the best cruises to see Hawaii from a number of lines. Dates, prices, amenities, and itineraries vary, so deciding on a cruise requires some planning and research. That's always part of the fun, and we hope these will inspire you to get started.

Holland America: 17-day Circle Hawaii from San Diego

This cruise departs from San Diego in the late afternoon, for five days at sea on the way to Honolulu on Oahu's south shore. The ship arrives early, giving travelers until nearly midnight to explore. Optional activities include a trip to Pearl Harbor, the Bishop Museum, a circle-island tour, and the Pali Coast scenic drive. After an overnight cruise to Kauai, the ship docks at Nawiliwili Harbor. Guests can take a Wailua River cruise to the Fern Grotto, a helicopter tour, or a trip to Waimea Canyon, Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Maui is the next island on the itinerary, with a luau, a drive or helicopter flight to Haleakala Crater, a trip to Hana, or an underwater cruise on the Atlantis submarine. Kona on the Big Island is next, and options include a visit to Volcanoes National Park. On the other side of the island, Hilo is the next port, and then after four days at sea, there's a stop in Ensenada, Mexico before returning to San Diego.

Royal Caribbean: 10-night Hawaii Cruise, Vancouver to Oahu

Royal Caribbean - 10 night Hawaii Cruise, Vancouver to Oahu
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

This trip aboard the spectacular Quantum of the Seas offers guests much to do during days at sea, including a surf simulator, bumper cars, skydiving simulator, and 360-degree viewing deck. After departing Vancouver, British Columbia, the next day is spent in Victoria before heading across the Pacific. Four days at sea provide time to enjoy the ship before it arrives in Lahaina, Maui for two days of exploring with options that include strolling through the historic town, visiting Haleakala Crater, whale watching in winter, and swimming at Kaanapali Beach. The next port is Oahu, where guests disembark and spend as much time as they want in Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, and island exploring before heading home.

Norwegian Cruise Line: Hawaii Inter-island Cruise from Honolulu

Norwegian Cruise Line - Hawaii Inter-island from Honolulu
Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Spend a week among Hawaii's islands on this seven-day cruise on Pride of America with onboard activities that include basketball, volleyball, video games, theater, hot tubs, spa, and shopping. Departing Honolulu on Saturday evening, the ship heads to Kahului, Maui for two days with options like a drive on the Road to Hana, a catamaran cruise to Molokini for snorkeling with sea turtles, a tour to Haleakala Crater, and more. Next is a day in Hilo on the Big Island where guests can see a volcano, rainforest, waterfalls, or a lush botanical garden. On the other side of the island in Kona, snorkeling, fishing, cruising in a catamaran, and a reef tour are among optional activities. Two days on Kauai are next on the itinerary, with a journey to Waimea Canyon, a luau, hike, or kayak cruise among things to do before returning to Honolulu to disembark on Saturday morning.

UnCruise Adventures: Hawaiian Seascapes

Kayaking off Maui coast with UnCruise Adventures
Courtesy of UnCruise Adventures

This eight-day small yacht cruise includes stops at four islands aboard the 36-guest Safari Explorer, with embarkation and captain's welcome in Molokai. The next day features time to explore the secluded island and the Hawaiian culture with a visit to the Molokai Museum. Lanai is the next port, where guests can snorkel, paddleboard, kayak, and explore by skiff, seeing sea cliffs along the shore and the quaint Lanai Culture and Heritage Center. On Maui, stroll through historic Lahaina, snorkel among coral and a sea turtle habitat, or kayak in a marine sanctuary. With a stop on the Kona coast, guests can explore the rugged shore, snorkel among tropical fish, or visit a national park. At Puu Waawaa State Wildlife Sanctuary, there's a naturalist guided hike, visit to a coffee plantation, and a captain's dinner in the evening. The ship docks in Kawaihae Harbor for transfer to Kona Airport or additional time on the Big Island.

Princess Cruises: 15-day Hawaiian Islands - San Francisco Round Trip

Princess Cruises - 15-day Hawaiian Islands - San Francisco Round Trip
Courtesy of Princess Cruises

This cruise aboard the Ruby Princess departs San Francisco in the late afternoon for four days of crossing the Pacific. With ten dining venues including SHARE by Curtis Stone, a steakhouse, and a casual burger spot, guests have many options. Swimming pools, hot tubs, spa, sports, Discovery at Sea programs, movies, dancing, and shows ensure plenty to do on the way to Hawaii. Youth and teen programs and family activities provide something for everyone. In Hilo, guests can visit Volcanoes National Park, among several other options. Next is Honolulu, where activities include a tour of Pearl Harbor, snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, and more. During a day in Kauai, there's hiking, snorkeling, and a kayak adventure. In Maui, guests can sail on a catamaran, Zodiac, or submarine. Four days of cruising takes the ship to Ensenada, Mexico for a day of exploring. After the last day at sea, the ship arrives back in San Francisco.

Celebrity Cruises: 11-night One-way Cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii

The Celebrity Eclipse departs Vancouver in late afternoon, with six nights at sea before docking in Hilo for a day. Aboard the luxurious vessel, guests have several dining and lounge options, a casino, fitness center, yoga classes, and grassy area for lawn games. In Hilo, guests enjoy a day of exploring waterfalls, volcanoes, and gardens on the lush coast of the Big Island. The ship cruises to Kona on the other side of the island for a day of snorkeling or other onshore activities. The next two days are spent in Lahaina, Maui, home base for a helicopter tour, a cruise among dolphins and whales, a plantation tour, or stroll through the historic port town. The ship cruises past Mt. Kilauea, Hawaii's youngest volcano, on the way to the final stop in Honolulu. Guests are free to enjoy Oahu at their leisure before heading back to the mainland.

Crystal Cruises: Hawaiian Island Shores, 16-night Luxury Roundtrip Cruise from Los Angeles

Crystal Cruises - Hawaiian Island Shores, 16-Night Luxury Roundtrip Cruise from Los Angeles
Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Guests board Crystal Serenity in Los Angeles and spend four days at sea enjoying the entertainment, dining, fitness center, enrichment opportunities, spa, and sports activities. The ship arrives in Honolulu for a day and a half of exploring the bustling city and island of Oahu. Cruising overnight to the next port on Kauai, the ship spends all day, giving guests the chance to enjoy the Garden Isle's waterfalls, lush gardens, beaches, and culture. Lahaina on the island of Maui is the next stop, with a full day and evening to visit Maui's beaches, upcountry farms, and the historic whaling town of Lahaina. In Kailua-Kona, there's an opportunity to see miles of black lava as well as Volcanoes National Park. On the other side of the island in Hilo, the next day shows the contrast with lush gardens, waterfalls, rainforest, and rocky shores. Four days at sea on the way to Ensenada gives guests time for the casino, a new restaurant, spa treatment, pool, or movie. After a full day in the Mexican port, the ship returns to Los Angeles.

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