Taking a leisurely cruise to Hawaii from the west coast of North America is one of the most relaxing and luxurious ways to visit this tropical paradise. And while the destination is spectacular, getting there and back can be half the fun.
We arrived in San Pedro (the port for Los Angeles) on a sunny fall afternoon where we boarded our cruise ship to begin our 14-night return voyage to the Hawaiian Islands.
Rather than fly directly to Hawaii and take a seven-day inter-island cruise from Honolulu, we had decided to make the voyage the old-fashioned way: sailing from the west coast of America across the Pacific Ocean for four and a half days in each direction. Compared to six hours aboard a cramped airplane, it just seemed like a more romantic and relaxing way to reach our Polynesian Paradise.
So while the unlucky souls on their way to Hawaii by airplane had to sit in cramped seats, eating tasteless food and fighting their way to the washroom, we were relaxing by the pool, dining in fabulous restaurants, enjoying exotic spa treatments and being entertained by a talented troupe of dancers and singers each night. That’s why large ships are so popular for ocean-going crossings – there’s so much to do that it’s almost impossible to experience every one of the ship’s amenities before the voyage is over.
For example, on our way to Hawaii we:
* Took four treatments in the Lotus Spa, including a Lime and Ginger Salt Scrub, a facial, Swedish massage and haircuts for formal night;
* Ate in five different restaurants including the Salty Dog Gastropub, the Crown Steak and seafood grill, and Café Caribe, a Caribbean/Mediterranean Buffet;
* Worked out in the gym and enjoyed the fresh ocean air while walking laps of the ship on the Promenade Deck;
* Attended the Maître D’s Wine Club, a 90-minute wine lecture and tasting with canapés and great wines including Veuve Cliquot Champagne and Opus One Cabernet Sauvignon;
* Soaked up the sun by the pool and watched a Hollywood flick at the outdoor Movies “Under the Stars” cinema;
* Strolled through the shops and boutiques in the three-storey atrium area and picked up some duty-free wine and jewelry;
* Sipped cocktails and listened to live music in several bars including the Wheelhouse, the Explorers’ Club, and the Promenade Bar;
* Nibbled on pre-dinner snacks of sushi and tapas at the Vines Wine Bar;
* Danced at the Vista Lounge and Skywalker’s Nightclub overlooking the stern; and,
* Dressed up in our best duds for the Captain’s Formal Welcome Party where we drank from a champagne waterfall.
If you’re starting to think that all this luxury and comfort must cost a pretty penny, think again: the fare for a 14-night return cruise in an inside cabin starts at just US$1,499 per person (we chose a balcony cabin for $2,300), or less than the cost of a return business-class airplane ticket to Hawaii.
After making our way across the Pacific Ocean, we finally arrived in Honolulu five days later well rested and without any jet lag – another huge benefit of sailing long distances by cruise ship. As a result, we were ready to hit the ground running and take full advantage of the many shore excursions available to us.
Later that evening, our ship sailed to Kauai where we spent a full day, as we did in Hilo and Maui the following days. While a single day in each port was far too short for such a gorgeous destination, it did provide us with a great taste of Hawaii and whet our appetites for a return trip in future.
(Princess Cruises offers voyages to Hawaii that leave and return to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver. In future posts, I’ll be sharing our adventures during shore excursions in our favourite Hawaiian ports of call.)