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Hawaii - Cruise or doing it on our own?

Laytonsville...
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Hawaii - Cruise or doing it on our own?

My husband & I will be celebrating our 15 yr anniversary next June 2015. We can't decide between planning a Hawaii trip on our own OR taking a Hawaiian cruise. We know that taking a cruise let's us see more islands than if we did it on our own - we can travel for about 7-10 days. We are world travelers and would really like to go on an upscale cruise line. Does anyone know of cruise lines other than Norwegian that sail around the islands at that time of year; eg Crystal or Seaborn. If not, are there any current opinions about Norwegian Cruise line -the cabins/food? We've sailed them many years ago and wasn't particularly impressed. If we don't do the cruise, any suggestions on hotels, islands to focus on and tour operators. Thanks!

Birmingham, Alabama
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1. Re: Hawaii - Cruise or doing it on our own?

I am not aware of upscale cruise lines but someone else may be. If you are world travelers I would do it on your own. Cruising is good to get a taste of each island but with 10 days you could do two islands and really get a flavor for hawaii. You don't need a tour operator...it is super easy to plan it yourself!

Check out the top questions info about each island here. You will want a car anywhere other than Oahu. Hawaii is great for exploring on your own! Totally made for that and that's what most people do.

Oklahoma City...
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2. Re: Hawaii - Cruise or doing it on our own?

With only 10 nights you could visit 1 of the smaller islands really well or get a glimpse of 2, but it is the perfect amount of time to visit the larger and more complex Big Island. It all depends on what you wish for this trip. A cruise will afford you a glimpse of 4 islands, but allows you to unpack once and provides some meals. You could plan your nicer meals on the islands you visit, renting a car for the day in order to get to them.

Waikoloa, Hawaii
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3. Re: Hawaii - Cruise or doing it on our own?

Norwegian is the only cruise line that's allowed to do a cruise that starts and ends in Hawaii. Other cruise lines have cruises that do roundtrips from the west coast or one ways from Vancouver or Sydney. NCLA generally gets worse reviews than almost any other mainstream cruise line. See CruiseCritic for reviews.

Laytonsville...
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4. Re: Hawaii - Cruise or doing it on our own?

Thanks. If we went to Honolulu and 1 other island, which hotel in Oahu would you recommend (we like boutique hotels) and which other island and hotels on that island are best?

United States
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5. Re: Hawaii - Cruise or doing it on our own?

Actually, there are only a very small handful of cruises (two that I know of) that visit multiple Hawaiian islands without a long trans-Pacific leg. This is due to American maritime law that foreign cruise ships CANNOT stop at two consecutive U.S. ports. The NCL Hawaiian cruise basically has no competition, except for the "Un-Cruise." But that one skips Oahu and Kauai and is much more expensive. I'm not sure I would call it a luxury cruise per se either but it is interesting/not a normal cruise.

In terms of choosing an island and choosing hotels, could you provide a little more detail as to what you're looking for?

What activities do you want to do? Will you rent a car?

How important is it to stay literally on a beach and do you care if that beach is crowded / not swimmable / etc?

Most importantly what's your nightly accommodations budget before taxes and fees? Oahu has a 13.96% accommodations tax, it's slightly lower at 13.42% on other islands.

Edited: 26 June 2014, 15:04
California
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6. Re: Hawaii - Cruise or doing it on our own?

"We know that taking a cruise let's us see more islands than if we did it on our own" Yes and no. If you simply want to count Islands - then "yes." If you are talking about quality time - then "no." You will waste a bunch of your precious trip on the ship, standing in lines, cutting days short, etc. No spontaneity ... visiting that great restaurant twice. Hanging out on the beach at night, etc. In other words, you are confined to the ship's schedule.

NCL is the only cruise line that is allowed to cruise the Hawaiian Islands without stopping at a foreign port. They have only one ship ... and we all know what happens when there is no competition: no incentive. Food services are basic cafeteria fare - whether served in the cafeteria or main dining room. I have taken this cruise, and I do not recommend it or its hit-and-run approach to Hawaii.

Your alternatives to NCL require 4+ days at sea each way. That's a vacation-buster.

SO - how many NIGHTS will you have in Hawaii? If you have 10 or more, 2 Islands are doable. With less than that, I'd stick to one Island.

None of the Islands is "best" - because all are "best." Do some reading, ask us more questions and then decide.

We will need an idea of your nightly accommodations budget to recommend hotels.

Pick up a copy of "Hawaii for Dummies" (highly-recommended) for a good overview of your options before moving forward. And get a good map of Hawaii as well.

Chicago
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7. Re: Hawaii - Cruise or doing it on our own?

I'd totally skip the cruise. As others have said, you're limited to the ships schedule, and many report that that particular ship is less than glamorous.

With 10 nights you could easily do two islands, and being that you're self proclaimed "world travelers" it will be very simple to plan on your own. Each island has it's own appeal; Oahu has lively Waikiki with tons of shopping, restaurants and Pearl Harbor, where as Lanai is much more laid back and undeveloped. You can find everything in between the two.

A site that's helped me greatly in helping decide where to go for my upcoming trip is govisithawaii.com/first-time-visitors-guide-… They kind of break down the basics of each island and what they have to offer.

Healy, Alaska
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8. Re: Hawaii - Cruise or doing it on our own?

In June, I would do Oahu and Kauai - a good contrast. What is your nightly budget for your lodging?

BUT as others have said, you need to pick your islands and then I would post on those specific island forums for more detailed help. :)

Phoenix, Arizona
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9. Re: Hawaii - Cruise or doing it on our own?

I would also opt for not doing the cruise - but then we are not really into cruises.

While an Island cruise will get one more Islands, I rather doubt that one would get much of a feel for any.

On O`ahu, I would look at Waikiki, and at one of these three hotels, based on your descriptions:

Halekulani - a new hotel built around a much older, and historical structure with small, but lovely grounds - luxury all the way, and close to so very much.

Royal Hawaiian - lovely old hotel which has recently had a refurbishment. Stately, historic and excellent, with larger grounds and great proximity.

Moan Surfrider - as historical as you can get. Older section, or newer section, there are nice rooms to be had. Grounds are smallish, but nice, with a lanai (front porch in this case), great for people watching. Location is almost identical to Royal Hawaiian.

For the luxury and great attention from the staff, one cannot beat the Halekulani, from my experiences - plus it has some of the best dining in the Islands at La Mer, or Orchids, and HWAK (House Without a Key) is NOT to be missed for sunset drinks, light food and a great Hawaiian music show (very low-key).

Travel safely, and enjoy greatly,

Hunt

Seattle
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10. Re: Hawaii - Cruise or doing it on our own?

<really like to go on an upscale cruise line.>

There isn't one doing the Hawaiian Islands.

The most upscale hotels on Oahu in Waikiki are: Halekulani, Royal Hawaiian or Moana Surfrider. There's also places like Trump Towers.