Cruise the Hawaiian isles in a more relaxing style

Published 12:58 pm Sunday, August 20, 2017

It is a bucket list trip for many of us. The images of cool tropical breezes, the sweet fragrance of exotic flowers, vast expanses of sandy beaches and the laid back island lifestyle feed our imagination. This luring call of “Aloha” from our 50th state, Hawaii, is calling.

For years the traditional air and land tour package was standard issue. You’d fly eight plus hours from the mainland, grab an airport transfer or rental car, head to your hotel, then go explore.

A multi-island trip became an exercise in unpacking and packing, plenty of time checking in and checking out of hotels and rental cars. This was a hectic, frenzied pace and not the vacation that you had pictured. Relaxing? No way!

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Is there an alternative to this vacation style? Absolutely! Today you can cruise the islands of Aloha! I’ve done both-the air/land packages and the cruise option.

My preference? The cruise! Travel industry numbers are supporting my views.

Lately, record numbers of passengers are heeding the call of a Hawaii cruise vacation. The first quarter of 2017 saw a 27.2 percent increase in total cruise visitors to the state, according to Hawaii Tourism Authority statistics.

What’s the advantage of exploring the Aloha State by ship? For starters, it eliminates the time and stress of flying from island to island. You only have to unpack once then watch the beauty of the islands sail by.

Then, there are those jaw-dropping views from the deck, such as glowing lava sliding down a volcano and remote coastlines of statuesque sea cliffs. Many cruise lines incorporate local culture into their onboard programs, too, whetting appetites for scores of Hawaii shore excursions.

Whether travelers are looking for tours that start on the west coast of the mainland or shorter sailings beginning and ending in Hawaii, the following six companies present alluring itineraries for interisland cruising.

In my opinion the flagship company is Norwegian Cruise Line. Their 2,500-passenger Pride of America is the only large ship with itineraries that start and end in Honolulu. Year-round, it operates seven-day interisland cruises with 100 hours of port time including 34 hours on Maui and a wide variety of shore excursions, so clients can make the most of what the islands have to offer. Occasionally, NCL brings experts onboard for talks on destination-specific topics such as Pearl Harbor.

The Pride is an older ship but her features fit into the islands. Classically elegant, she’s not the 5,000 megaton vessel that prowls the Caribbean but perfectly suited for this route. The emphasis on Hawaiian cruises is shore side in the ports of calls, not the ship as the destination. If you want 20 restaurants, a climbing wall or a Vegas style casino then a Hawaiian cruise, is not for you.

The other cruise lines enter the picture with departures from Canada’s and the United States west coast. These are longer 10 or more day cruises that sail intermittently.

With trips to the islands from just Vancouver, B.C., or Long Beach, California, Carnival Cruise Line isn’t a huge player in Hawaii. However, its voyages feature a fun and festive environment in which to explore the picturesque archipelago.

Unique onboard activities, including cooking demonstrations with local chefs, are tailored to the destination. The 2,124-passenger Carnival Legend stops at the four major islands  of Oahu, Hawaii Island, Kauai and Maui for dozens of on-land adventures.

From fall through spring, Holland America Line (HAL) tours Hawaii with its 2,104 passenger Eurodam, 1,916-passenger Westerdam and 1,964-passenger Oosterdam vessels. The 16 to 18 day itineraries depart from Seattle, Vancouver, or San Diego.

Throughout each journey, HAL brings Hawaii’s traditions, tastes and culture to life, with hands-on classes that teach lei making, ukulele and hula. Onboard Hawaii gurus share tips on the best tours, must-see sites and off-the-beaten-track gems.

Island culture takes center stage during Princess Cruises’ 15-day roundtrip Hawaii cruises from the U.S. West Coast. Onboard Grand Princess or Star Princess (both with a capacity of 2,600 passengers), guests join in on crafts, dance and language lessons.

Local entertainers present a folkloric show at sea, and families watch films under the stars. Menus draw from the destination, and culinary demonstrations invite passengers to savor Hawaii flavors. All of these lay the groundwork for exciting day trips from island ports of call.

If you’re sailing on NCL I’d suggest a pre cruise option. Due to the length of the flights and potential airline operational issues consider leaving early. I left two day in advance of my Pride of America departure date and enjoyed the island of Oahu. This allowed me to decompress and explore Waikiki.

The ship returns to Honolulu early in the morning and most flights back to the mainland do not depart until late afternoon or early evening.

I took advantage of this schedule and did a 6-8 hour circle island tour. We secured the bags under the coach and hit the road. This allowed my tour group a chance to see the sights they missed on the pre cruise end.

The perfect Hawaiian getaway is a complex endeavor. I suggest planning your trip with a certified Hawaii destination specialist like myself.

There was plenty of classroom study but the field trip to Hawaii was worth the effort. Who says continuing education does pay off?

Have you purchased an Elks Halloween Havoc ticket? This is a gaming competition where you buy a ticket numbered 1 thru 250. Each ticket has a chance of winning a cash prize. The grand prize is $10,000 and the total cash payout of $16,400.Additional games of chance will also be available during the drawing.

A ticket entitles 2 people entrance to the drawing and includes food and adult beverages.

Tickets are on sale in Ironton at Allyn’s Jewelers 502 S. Second St. and Peddlers Restaurant 2225 S. Third St.

You can also purchase your ticket from a member of the Ironton Elks today! Don’t know an Elks member contact them at 740-532-1262 or and they’ll get you a ticket!

Shop local! Dine local! Support Lawrence County small businesses!

Got travel? Email Steve Call at the or dial 740-550-9540