So You’Re Thinking About Hawaii

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We often have people call or come in to ask us about Hawaii. Since it’s one of our favorite destinations, we are always happy to talk about what to see and do in Hawaii. As with many destinations, it helps to do a little research to determine what you want to do.

There are so many different experiences and excursions in Hawaii, that it helps to decide if you want to see the cultural and historical Hawaii, the adventure side, like snorkeling with manta rays, the scenic side, like a helicopter or Zodiak tour of the Na Pali coast on Kauai, the shopping side of Honolulu, or just want to get into the back country to see how “real Hawaiians” live.

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Photo courtesy of Carol Watts

Hawaii is one of our favorite destinations, and there are several ways to travel and see the islands.

Likewise there are several ways to travel and see Hawaii, and this choice might well depend on what you want to see and do once you get there. Let’s examine the different travel options and a cost comparison of them.

By far our favorite way to see the islands is to cruise both ways, round trip from Los Angeles. We have done this trip four times, most recently last month on the Golden Princess. More about that trip next month.

If you have the time, two weeks, this is the least expensive and most relaxing way to travel to Hawaii. Some cruise lines offer a 10-day trip, which involves one-way airfare to or from the islands.

On this 14-day cruise you have four sea days crossing the Pacific before landing in Hilo on the Big Island on the morning of the fifth day.

This is the island with the active volcano, Volcanoes National Park, orchid farms and macadamia nuts.

After a full day in Hawaii, you sail overnight and arrive in Honolulu the next morning. The ship stays at Hawaii’s capital city until late in the evening, allowing you plenty of time to go to an evening show or luau.

The next stop is Kauai, the Garden Island, then finally Lahaina on Maui. Then it’s four more days back across the Pacific to the fifth and final port of call in Ensenada. Non-U.S. registered ships sailing between U.S. cities must make a call in a foreign country — this is because of the Jones Act, and you might recall that this same act prohibited foreign ships from assisting in the gulf oil spill cleanup efforts.

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Photo courtesy of Carol Watts

Byodo-In Temple is one of the many sites to visit on the Hawaiian islands.

The biggest objection to this cruise is the eight sea days. But to us, that is part of the attraction. You have four days to relax and unwind before you hit the islands, touring every day, then four more days to relax and recuperate on the way home. And there is plenty to do on the ship to keep you occupied. More on that in my next article.

The price for an ocean view cabin for end of April and beginning of May is $3,783 for two people. This includes all your food and drinks, other than alcohol and carbonated beverages, and entertainment throughout the day and evenings.

Two people couldn’t stay in a hotel and eat out daily in Phoenix or San Diego for that amount.

The other cruise option is NCL’s 7-day cruise that just circles the islands. The cruise begins and ends in Honolulu, so if you want to see this city, you really need to go a few days before or after the cruise. This 7-day cruise prices out at approximately $2,930 for two people in an ocean view cabin for the same time period as above. Additionally there is the cost of airfare, about $1,369 for two, plus additional hotel and meal costs if you want to spend any time in Honolulu. It’s worth mentioning that the 5-hour return flight from Honolulu is either an overnight flight arriving early in the morning after a change in a California airport, or if on Hawaiian Airlines direct, it lands in Phoenix at 11:59 p.m. So why pay approximately $500 more for seven fewer days and two long airplane flights?

The third option is to fly to Hawaii and spend a few days in a hotel. Unless you spend all your time on one island, flights to the other islands are an additional cost.

Since the 14-day cruise that we are using as a base comparison spends only four days actually in Hawaii, one day in four different islands, let’s compare a four-night stay with airfare at a hotel on Maui. We usually book these type of vacations through Apple Vacations, since they have the best air and hotel combined discounts. So for four nights in a three-star hotel and air, the cost is approximately $2,044 for two people. This does not include the cost of eating out — figure $150 per day for two — and limits you to one island. And again you have the joy of a long flight. But if your time and budget are limited, this is the way to see Hawaii, or at least one island. But for the inconvenience of the air travel and the limitation of one location, I would take the cruise any day.

Think of a cruise to Hawaii as a sampler box of chocolates. You get to try different cities or islands, then decide which one you want to return to and spend more time exploring. Whatever your destination or type of travel, Cruise Port Travel can assist you to make the best choice for your desires and budget. Our first hand cruise ship and sightseeing excursion experience costs you no more than booking on the web. Come see us at 900 W. Driftwood Dr. in Payson. Look for my article on the Golden Princess 14-day cruise to Hawaii in a future Rim Review, or check out all the travel articles on the blog spot of our web site, www.travelpayson.com.

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