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The Hawaiian Islands are a top year-round destination. And with six major islands to visit, each with its own personality and varied experiences, a trip to this tropical paradise requires a fair amount of research and planning. Cruise lines are simplifying the planning process and enhancing the Hawaiian vacation with unique experiences that immerse travelers in the spirit of the Aloha culture before, during and after their sailings. Check out these 10 things you can only do on a Norwegian Cruise Line Hawaii vacation.

RELATED: How to get big perks like airfare and unlimited open bar included with your cruise



1. Visit four Hawaiian Islands in seven days

Of course you want to see all of Hawaii’s major islands but for most travelers, that’s just not possible due to the time and cost of inter-island flights, transfers and multiple hotel stays. More savvy travelers are opting for cruises like Norwegian Cruise Line’s seven-night sailing that visits four Hawaiian Islands, including two overnight stays, which ensure that you’re on an island hiking, sunning or exploring each and every day. Guests experience the best of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island with the convenience of returning to the same stateroom every night, and without the hassle of handling the logistics.

hawaii cruise activity paddleboarding

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

2. Spend 100 hours in port

If there were ever a destination worth exploring beyond the beach, it’s the Hawaiian Islands. From active volcanoes, waterfalls, sea caves, lush rainforests, to mountains, cultural sites and so much more, travelers can plan as much time as possible on land, thanks to the itinerary’s multiple stops and two on-land overnights, totaling about 100 hours in port. Your inner explorer is sure to be very outwardly excited.

3. Immerse yourself more with overnight hotel stays on land

Hawaii is a destination that doesn’t just softly beckon visitors to stay a little longer, it shouts it. With its surf-worthy waves and hidden beaches, historical landmarks, amazing local cuisine and a friendly culture, who wouldn’t want to extend their stay? NCL makes it easy to add overnight hotel stays to the beginning and end of a Hawaiian cruise with accommodation options in the heart of popular Waikiki Beach.


Pearl Harbor Memorial | Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

4. Take a pre-cruise Hawaiian land tour

Arriving prior to embarkation day is a must for travelers who want to experience all that Oahu has to offer. And cruise lines like NCL make it easier than ever with options for pre-cruise land tours that can be packaged with any Hawaii cruise. On these tours, which run 3–4 days, visitors can get an insider’s perspective with local experienced tour guides and an itinerary that hits all the highlights including the famous North Shore, Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor, downtown Waikiki, the scenic South Shore and Kualoa Ranch. All this before the ship even leaves the port.

5. Set sail any time of year

One of the best perks of cruising in Hawaii with NCL is the ability to set sail at your leisure, any time of year. As the only U.S. flagged cruise ship that sails round-trip from Honolulu all year long, NCL’s Pride of America gives you the freedom and flexibility to vacation on your schedule. And because this tropical paradise boasts near perfect weather year-round, there’s really no bad time to go.

ALSO: Ready to book your Hawaii dream cruise? Make sure you check out these deals first!

6. Steep yourself in Hawaiian culture—before you even step off the ship

Hawaiian culture is fascinating and fun to experience. And on Norwegian, you don’t even have to step off the ship to learn about and partake in some of its most time-honored native traditions. Take an authentic hula class, try your hand at a native Hawaiian craft like lei making, participate in a traditional luau, learn about the native Hawaiian language, and listen to captivating lectures from locals on topics like the arrival of Captain Cook and Pacific Humpback Whales. All of this, aboard the ship.


Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruse Line

7. Take in spectacular scenery right from the deck

One of the truly special things about Hawaii is the beautiful views of coastline. Cruisers are lucky enough to revel in some of the most spectacular vantage points that can only be seen from the water. Simply head out to the deck to take in lava flow from an active volcano, stunning cliffs and waterfalls. NCL offers itineraries that cruise by the soaring cliffs of the Na Pali Coast and Kilauea Volcano, the most active volcano in the world.

Pride of America refurbishment 2016

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

8. Get wined, dined and entertained in style, thanks to major ship updates

Never judge a ship by its age. This year, NCL will cruise Hawaii in style with the newly refurbished Pride of America following a modernization that includes newly designed spaces, decor and technical updates, making her practically as new as when she first set sail. Guests will enjoy a new gelateria, new art gallery, new pool deck, renovated bars and lounges, and updated staterooms and suites among other ship enhancements.

9. Make your own schedule with “freestyle” cruising

Hawaii is all about the Shaka sign, interpreted as “hang loose.” And isn’t that what a Hawaiian vacation should be all about? On an NCL cruise, you’ll get that laid-back experience both on land and at sea with the relaxed, flexible take on freestyle cruising that this cruise line pioneered. Meals at your leisure, casual attire, more lounges, bars, entertainment and activity options—all geared toward giving you the freedom to do what you want, when you want.

10. Easy boarding, easy disembarkation

Last, but certainly not least, experienced cruisers know that a quick and easy disembarkation makes for a great end to any trip. In Hawaii, guests may feel like they’re far from home, but will appreciate the ease of disembarking in Honolulu. With no need to go through customs, guests go from ship to curb in just a few minutes…the perfect “aloha” to a perfect Hawaiian vacation.

BONUS ITEM: Get added cruise perks for free, if you book soon

For a limited time, you can get up to $4,000 in included amenities. Choose from Free or Reduced Airfare, Friends and Family Sail Free, Unlimited Open Bar, Specialty Dining, Shore Excursions and more! You can pick up to six options, depending on your cabin class. Learn more about Free at Sea here.

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Tagged: Hawaii

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Jeanenne Tornatore

Jeanenne Tornatore

Jeanenne specializes in savvy budget travel tips, destination experiences, industry trends and the latest products to make any trip go smoothly. A mother of three, she's seasoned in all things family-travel, from the most kid-friendly beach resorts to navigating Disney Parks. Jeanenne is an avid outdoor adventure seeker, as well as a regular TV and radio content contributor. You'll find her @JMTornatore on Twitter and Instagram.

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