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What You Need to Know About Hawaii Cruises: Top Questions Answered

Are you planning a cruise to Hawaii and have a lot of questions? Scroll to find out the answers to your biggest questions about Hawaii cruises.
This list of questions and answers about Hawaii cruises was written by Marcie Cheung (a Hawaii travel expert) and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

If you’re planning your first cruise to Hawaii, you likely have many questions about what to expect and how to make the most of your voyage.

Fortunately, we’ve compiled a list of the top questions and answers about Hawaii cruises to help you prepare for the adventure of a lifetime.

From the best time to cruise to Hawaii to what to pack and what to expect on board, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make your Hawaii cruise experience unforgettable.

Wondering why my advice matters? I’ve been to Hawaii over 40 times and have unparalleled firsthand knowledge of the islands.

Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned veteran, our guide will provide you with valuable tips and insights for a smooth and enjoyable Hawaii cruise.

Let’s get started!

Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Hawaii Island Hopping Guide complete with cruise excursions, island itineraries, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

Check out this Hawaii Island Hopping guide featuring Hawaii itineraries for Oahu, Maui, Kauai, Big Island, Lana'i, and Moloka'i by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel Spot!

Cruising to Paradise: Top Questions About Hawaii Cruises Answered

When is the Best Time to Take a Hawaii Cruise?

The best time to take a Hawaii cruise depends on your preferences and what you want to do during your cruise. And you’ll want to check the Hawaii cruise deals, too!

However, the peak season for Hawaii cruises is from December to April when the weather is usually dry and sunny, and the temperatures are moderate.

During this time, the whale watching season is also in full swing, and you can see humpback whales migrating to the Hawaiian waters.

If you prefer to avoid crowds, consider traveling during the shoulder season from September to November or May to August. The weather during these months is still pleasant, and you may find lower prices and fewer tourists.

It’s worth noting that Hawaii is a year-round destination, and there’s always something to see and do no matter when you go.

The rainy season is from November to March, but even during this time, the rainfall is usually sporadic and doesn’t interfere with your vacation plans.

Ultimately, the best time to take a Hawaii cruise is when it fits your schedule and preferences.

What are the Most Popular Ports of Call on a Hawaii Cruise?

The most popular ports of call on a Hawaii cruise typically include:

Honolulu, Oahu

Honolulu is the capital city of Hawaii and is known for its stunning beaches, rich history, and vibrant nightlife. Popular attractions include Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, and the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Kahului, Maui

The Maui cruise port is in Kahului, which is more of an industrial area with big box stores and the airport. Most people choose to head to Lahaina when they get off the cruise ship.

Lahaina is a historic town on the island of Maui and is known for its art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Popular attractions include the Banyan Tree Park, Atlantis Submarine, and the Lahaina Historic Trail.

Kona, Hawaii

Kona is a popular port on the Big Island of Hawaii and is known for its volcanic landscapes and world-renowned coffee farms.

Kona Coast on the Big Island.

Popular attractions include the Kona Coffee Living History Farm, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.

Hilo, Hawaii

Hilo is another port on the Big Island of Hawaii. This is the “rainy” side of the island which means it’s great for seeing tropical waterfalls! This port is also closest to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Nawiliwili, Kauai

Nawiliwili is a picturesque port on the island of Kauai and is known for its scenic beauty and outdoor adventures. Popular attractions include the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon State Park, and the Wailua River.

What is the Average Length of a Hawaii Cruise?

The average length of a Hawaii cruise is typically 7 to 10 days, although some cruise lines offer longer or shorter itineraries.

A 7-day Hawaii cruise usually departs from Honolulu and visits several ports of call, such as Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island, before returning to Honolulu.

Some cruise lines offer longer Hawaii cruises that can last up to 14 or 15 days, which may include additional ports of call or more time at each destination.

Shorter cruises, such as 4 or 5-day cruises, are less common but may be available as part of a larger itinerary or a repositioning cruise.

Ultimately, the length of your Hawaii cruise depends on your preferences and the amount of time you have available for your vacation.

A shorter cruise may be ideal for a quick getaway, while a longer cruise allows for more time to explore the islands and experience all that Hawaii has to offer.

What is the Weather Like in Hawaii During a Cruise?

The weather in Hawaii during a cruise can vary depending on the time of year and the islands you visit.

Generally, the weather in Hawaii is warm and tropical, with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (24-29°C) throughout the year.

During the summer months (June to August), temperatures are typically a bit warmer and more humid, while the winter months (December to February) are cooler and drier.

However, the weather can be unpredictable at times, and rain is always a possibility, especially in the higher elevations.

It’s worth noting that Hawaii’s climate can vary depending on which island you visit. The windward (east) side of the islands tends to be rainier, while the leeward (west) side tends to be drier.

This can affect the types of activities you can do during your cruise, such as hiking or visiting waterfalls.

Overall, the weather in Hawaii during a cruise is usually warm and sunny, but it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before you go and pack accordingly.

What Activities and Excursions are Available on a Hawaii Cruise?

A Hawaii cruise offers a wide range of activities and excursions to suit every interest and age group.

On board the ship, you can enjoy a variety of amenities, from swimming pools and spa treatments to live entertainment and educational programs.

In port, you can explore some of Hawaii’s most iconic destinations, such as the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Waikiki Beach, and the Na Pali Coast. You can also experience Hawaii’s natural beauty through activities such as snorkeling, hiking, and whale watching.

Many cruise lines offer guided tours and excursions to popular sites, as well as opportunities for cultural immersion, such as lei-making and hula dancing.

Whether you prefer adventure or relaxation, there are plenty of activities and excursions to choose from on a Hawaii cruise.

What are the Dining Options on a Hawaii Cruise?

The dining options on a Hawaii cruise can vary depending on the cruise line and ship you choose. However, most cruise ships offer a range of dining options, including:

Main Dining Room

Most cruise ships have a main dining room where passengers can enjoy a formal dining experience. These restaurants typically offer a variety of cuisine and are included in the cost of your cruise.

Specialty Restaurants

Many cruise ships also offer specialty restaurants that offer a more intimate dining experience and specialize in a specific type of cuisine, such as Italian or steakhouse. These restaurants usually have an additional cost, and reservations are often required.


Most cruise ships also have a buffet-style restaurant that offers a variety of food options throughout the day, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These restaurants are usually included in the cost of your cruise.

Room Service

Many cruise ships offer room service for passengers who want to dine in their cabin. This service may be included in the cost of your cruise or may have an additional fee.

Casual Dining Options

Some cruise ships also offer casual dining options, such as a poolside grill or a cafe that serves sandwiches and snacks.

Most cruise lines also offer special dining packages that allow passengers to prepay for a certain number of meals at specialty restaurants or to receive discounts on certain dining options.

These packages can be a good value for passengers who want to enjoy a variety of dining experiences during their cruise.

What are the Accommodation Options on a Hawaii Cruise?

The accommodation options on a Hawaii cruise can vary depending on the cruise line and ship you choose. However, most cruise ships offer a range of cabins to suit different budgets and preferences.

Interior of a cabin bedroom on cruise boat hotel
Cruise ship cabins are pretty compact.

Inside Cabins

Inside cabins are typically the most affordable option and are located on the interior of the ship with no windows or balconies.

Oceanview Cabins

Oceanview cabins feature a window or porthole that allows passengers to see outside the ship.

Balcony Cabins

Balcony cabins feature a private balcony that allows passengers to enjoy the ocean views and fresh air.


Suites are larger cabins that may include additional amenities such as a separate living area, a dining table, and a private balcony or veranda. Some suites also come with butler service or other exclusive perks.

Most cabins on a cruise ship include basic amenities such as a private bathroom, a TV, and a telephone. Some may also include a mini-fridge, a safe, and a hairdryer.

It’s worth noting that cabins on a Hawaii cruise can book up quickly, especially during peak season, so it’s a good idea to book your cabin as early as possible to secure your preferred accommodations.

How Much Does a Hawaii Cruise Cost?

The cost of a Hawaii cruise can vary widely depending on a number of factors such as the cruise line, the time of year, the length of the cruise, the type of cabin, and the amenities included in the package.

In general, a 7-night Hawaii cruise can cost anywhere from $700 to $3,000 or more per person, depending on the above factors. Some cruise lines offer all-inclusive packages that may include flights, pre-cruise hotel stays, and shore excursions, which can drive up the cost.

It’s also worth noting that prices for Hawaii cruises tend to be higher during peak travel seasons, such as the summer months and the winter holidays.

Additionally, booking early can often result in lower prices, while waiting until the last minute may result in higher prices or limited availability.

Ultimately, the best way to get an accurate idea of the cost of a Hawaii cruise is to research different cruise lines and itineraries, compare prices, and contact a travel agent or cruise line directly for more information.

Do I Need a Passport for a Hawaii Cruise?

If you are a United States citizen traveling on a Hawaii cruise that departs from and returns to a U.S. port, you do not need a passport.

Image of a U.S. passport on a map
You don’t need a passport if you are a U.S. citizen.

You will, however, need to bring proof of citizenship such as a government-issued birth certificate or a U.S. passport card. It’s also recommended to bring a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, for identification purposes.

However, if your Hawaii cruise stops at ports outside of the United States, such as in Mexico or Canada, then you will need a passport to enter those countries. It’s always a good idea to check with your cruise line or travel agent to determine what travel documents are required for your specific itinerary.

Additionally, if you are not a U.S. citizen, you will need to check with the appropriate embassy or consulate to determine what travel documents are required for your specific situation.

What are the Customs and Immigration Procedures for a Hawaii Cruise?

Customs and immigration procedures for a Hawaii cruise depend on the itinerary and ports of call. If your cruise departs from a U.S. port and visits only U.S. ports, you won’t need to go through customs and immigration.

However, if your cruise departs from a foreign port or visits a foreign port, you will need to go through customs and immigration. This typically involves presenting your passport, completing an immigration form, and declaring any items you have purchased abroad.

Onboard the ship, you may need to attend a customs inspection, where officials will check your luggage for prohibited items.

Your cruise line will provide you with detailed information on customs and immigration procedures and any necessary documentation, such as visas or vaccination records. It’s important to follow these procedures carefully to ensure a smooth and stress-free cruise experience.

What Should I Pack for a Hawaii Cruise?

When packing for a Hawaii cruise, you’ll want to consider the climate, the activities you plan to participate in, and the dress codes on the ship. Here are some items you may want to include in your packing list:

Check out this Hawaii packing list for the airplane recommended by top Hawaii blog Hawaii Travel Spot! Image of an open suitcase with vacation clothing inside
Try not to over-pack for your Hawaii cruise!

Light and Breathable Clothing

The weather in Hawaii can be warm and humid, so pack lightweight, breathable clothing such as shorts, T-shirts, and sundresses.


You’ll likely want to spend time in the water, so pack swimwear and cover-ups.

Sun Protection

Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat are essential to protect your skin from the strong Hawaiian sun.

Comfortable Shoes

Pack comfortable shoes for walking around the ship and exploring ports of call. You may also want to bring water shoes if you plan to go snorkeling or participate in other water activities.

Formal Attire

Some cruise lines have formal nights, so be sure to pack formal attire if required. But, you’ll probably be able to get away with a nice tropical dress instead of something more formal.

Casual Attire

You’ll also want to pack casual clothing for lounging around the ship. These can be cute resort-wear items or shorts and t-shirts.


Evenings can be cool in Hawaii, so pack a light sweater or jacket. We’ve always found the decks of the ships to be extremely chilly so I always bundle up!


Bring toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste, as well as any medications you may need.

Electrical Adapters

If you are traveling from outside the United States, you may need electrical adapters for your electronics. Otherwise, you’re good to go.

Day Bag

A day bag or backpack can be useful for carrying essentials when you’re off the ship, such as sunscreen, water, and a camera.

It’s also a good idea to check with your cruise line or travel agent for any specific items that may be required or prohibited on the ship.

Check out my full packing lists for Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island!

What are the Age Requirements for a Hawaii Cruise?

The age requirements for a Hawaii cruise will depend on the specific cruise line and itinerary. Generally speaking, there are no age restrictions for Hawaii cruises, but there may be restrictions on certain activities or areas of the ship based on age.

Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult on the cruise, and some cruise lines require that children be at least six months old to travel. For safety reasons, there may be restrictions on certain activities, such as rock climbing or zip-lining on the ship, based on age or weight.

Many cruise lines also offer programs and activities for children and teens, such as kids’ clubs and teen lounges, as well as family-friendly entertainment and dining options.

It’s important to check with your specific cruise line for their age requirements and any restrictions or requirements for traveling with children.

Additionally, if you are traveling with a minor who is not your own child, you may need to provide documentation such as a notarized letter of consent from the child’s legal guardian.

What are the Onboard Entertainment Options on a Hawaii Cruise?

The onboard entertainment options on a Hawaii cruise can vary depending on the cruise line, ship, and itinerary. However, here are some common onboard entertainment options that you may find on a Hawaii cruise:

Live Music and Shows

Many Hawaii cruises offer live music and entertainment, including Broadway-style shows, comedy acts, and musical performances.

Movies and TV Shows

Many cruise ships have movie theaters or outdoor screens where you can watch movies and TV shows.

Bars and Nightclubs

Most cruise ships have bars and nightclubs where you can enjoy drinks and dance the night away.

Sports and Fitness Facilities

Many cruise ships have sports and fitness facilities, including gyms, basketball courts, mini-golf courses, and rock climbing walls.

Pools and Water Parks

Most Hawaii cruises have pools and water parks where you can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy water slides.

Art Auctions

Some cruise lines host art auctions on board, where you can bid on and purchase artwork.

Cooking Classes and Demonstrations

Many cruise ships offer cooking classes and demonstrations where you can learn how to make new dishes.

Lectures and Educational Programs

Some Hawaii cruises offer lectures and educational programs on a variety of topics, such as Hawaiian history, culture, and wildlife.

Spa and Wellness Services

Many cruise ships have onboard spas where you can enjoy massages, facials, and other spa treatments.

It’s important to note that the onboard entertainment options can vary depending on the cruise line, ship, and itinerary, so it’s best to check with your specific cruise line for more information.

Are There Casinos on Hawaii Cruise Ships?

Yes, but they won’t be open. Gambling is illegal in the state of Hawaii and that includes onboard Hawaii cruise ships. There’s a reason why people Hawaii call Las Vegas the “9th Hawaiian Island”!

What are the Tipping Policies on a Hawaii Cruise?

The tipping policies on a Hawaii cruise can vary depending on the cruise line and the specific ship. However, here are some general guidelines:

Automatic Gratuities

Many cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your onboard account. The amount can vary, but it’s usually around $12 to $15 per person per day.

This amount is typically split between your stateroom attendant, dining room staff, and other service staff.

Pre-paid Gratuities

Some cruise lines allow you to pre-pay your gratuities before your cruise. This can be a good option if you want to have everything paid upfront.

Additional Tipping

While automatic gratuities are intended to cover all service staff, some guests may choose to give additional tips for exceptional service.

Spa and Salon Gratuities

If you use the onboard spa or salon services, there may be an automatic gratuity added to your bill. This amount can vary by cruise line.

Beverage Service Gratuities

Some cruise lines automatically add a gratuity to beverage purchases. This can include alcoholic beverages, soda, and specialty coffee drinks.

It’s important to note that tipping policies can vary by cruise line, and it’s always a good idea to check with your specific cruise line for their policies. Some cruise lines also provide guidelines on tipping on their website or in the information provided on board.

What are the Cancellation Policies for a Hawaii Cruise?

Cancellation policies for a Hawaii cruise can vary depending on the cruise line and the specific ship. However, here are some general guidelines:


Most cruise lines have a refund policy if you cancel your reservation within a certain period of time. The amount of the refund can vary depending on how far in advance you cancel and the cruise line’s specific policies.

Cancellation Fees

Many cruise lines have cancellation fees that are charged if you cancel your reservation after a certain date. These fees can vary depending on how close to the sailing date you cancel and the cruise line’s specific policies.

Non-refundable Deposits

Some cruise lines require a non-refundable deposit when you book your cruise. If you cancel your reservation, you may forfeit this deposit.

Travel Insurance

Purchasing travel insurance can be a good way to protect yourself in case you need to cancel your cruise. Some travel insurance policies will provide a full refund if you cancel for a covered reason, such as illness or injury.

It’s important to note that cancellation policies can vary by cruise line and the specific ship, so it’s always a good idea to check with your specific cruise line for their policies.

It’s also a good idea to read the terms and conditions of your cruise contract carefully before booking your cruise, so you know what to expect if you need to cancel.

Which Cruise Lines Offer Hawaii Cruises and What are Their Itineraries?

There are several cruise lines that offer Hawaii cruises, each with its own itineraries and ports of call. Here are some of the major cruise lines that offer Hawaii cruises and some examples of their itineraries:

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line offers a variety of Hawaii cruises, including roundtrip voyages from Honolulu and one-way cruises from Vancouver or Los Angeles. Some of their itineraries include visits to ports such as Kahului, Hilo, Kona, and Nawiliwili.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises offers Hawaii cruises with itineraries that visit ports including Honolulu, Kauai, Maui, and Hilo. They also offer a 15-day Hawaii and Tahiti cruise that visits ports in French Polynesia.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line offers a 17-day Circle Hawaii cruise that visits ports including Hilo, Kona, Maui, and Honolulu. They also offer a 28-day Hawaii, Tahiti, and Marquesas cruise that visits ports in French Polynesia.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International offers Hawaii cruises with itineraries that visit ports including Honolulu, Maui, and Kauai. They also offer a transpacific cruise that departs from Sydney, Australia, and ends in Honolulu.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line offers Hawaii cruises with itineraries that visit ports including Honolulu, Kauai, and Maui. They also offer a transpacific cruise that departs from Long Beach, California, and ends in Honolulu.

It’s important to note that cruise itineraries can vary depending on the specific ship and departure date, so it’s always a good idea to check with your specific cruise line for their itineraries and schedules.

What are the Top Attractions to Visit on a Hawaii Cruise?

Hawaii is a beautiful and diverse destination with plenty of attractions to explore during a cruise. Here are some of the top attractions to visit on a Hawaii cruise:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Located on the Big Island, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Visitors can take guided hikes, drive the scenic Crater Rim Drive, and see lava flows up close.

Waikiki Beach

Located on the island of Oahu, Waikiki Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Hawaii. Visitors can enjoy swimming, surfing, and sunbathing, as well as shopping and dining in nearby shops and restaurants.

Pearl Harbor

Located on the island of Oahu, Pearl Harbor is home to the USS Arizona Memorial, which commemorates the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II. Visitors can take guided tours, watch historical films, and pay their respects at the memorial.

Road to Hana

Located on the island of Maui, the Road to Hana is a scenic drive that takes visitors through lush rainforests, past waterfalls and scenic vistas, and to secluded beaches.

Na Pali Coast

Located on the island of Kauai, the Na Pali Coast is a breathtaking coastline that can be explored by boat, kayak, or helicopter. Visitors can see towering cliffs, sea caves, and pristine beaches.

Maui’s Haleakala Crater

Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui is home to the Haleakala Crater, a massive volcanic crater that offers stunning views of the sunrise and sunset.

Hanauma Bay

Located on the island of Oahu, Hanauma Bay is a protected marine reserve that is home to a variety of marine life. Visitors can go snorkeling or take a glass-bottom boat tour to see colorful fish, sea turtles, and other marine creatures.

These are just a few of the many attractions that Hawaii has to offer, and there are plenty of other activities and sights to explore during a Hawaii cruise.

Are There Any Restrictions on What Can be Brought on Board a Hawaii Cruise Ship?

Yes, there are restrictions on what can be brought on board a Hawaii cruise ship. The specific restrictions may vary depending on the cruise line and ship, but generally, the following items are not allowed:

  • Illegal substances and drugs
  • Firearms, weapons, and explosives
  • Hoverboards and other self-balancing electric devices
  • Electrical extension cords and surge protectors
  • Electrical appliances such as hot plates, irons, and coffee makers
  • Flammable liquids and chemicals
  • Dangerous items such as sharp objects and tools
  • Drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles

Additionally, most cruise lines have restrictions on bringing your own alcoholic beverages on board. Most cruise lines allow passengers to bring a limited amount of wine or champagne on board, but other alcoholic beverages are generally not allowed.

It’s important to carefully review the cruise line’s website or brochure for specific details on what is and isn’t allowed on board the ship.

Failure to comply with these restrictions can result in confiscation of the item(s), and in some cases, may result in passengers being denied boarding or removed from the ship. So, I’d suggest following the rules!

What is the Dress Code for Hawaii Cruise Ships?

The dress code for Hawaii cruise ships can vary depending on the cruise line and the type of dining or entertainment venues on board. Generally, cruise lines will have different dress codes for different times of the day and different areas of the ship.

Here are some common dress codes for Hawaii cruise ships:


Casual attire is typically allowed during the day and in most areas of the ship. This may include shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses.

Smart Casual

Smart casual attire is typically required for dining in the ship’s main restaurants and may include slacks, collared shirts, dresses, and skirts.


Formal attire is usually required for one or more nights on a longer cruise and may include tuxedos, suits, and cocktail dresses.

Some cruise lines also have specialty dining venues that require specific dress codes such as resort casual or semi-formal. Additionally, some cruise lines may have themed nights such as a Hawaiian luau night or a 1920s-themed party, which may require special attire.

It’s important to check with the cruise line before packing to ensure you have appropriate clothing for the dress codes on board. Most cruise lines will provide passengers with a dress code guide in advance of the cruise, which will help you plan your outfits accordingly.

Cruising to Hawaii Wrap Up

A Hawaii cruise is a dream vacation for many, but it can also be overwhelming for first-time cruisers. However, with the right knowledge and preparation, you can make the most of your Hawaii cruise experience.

We’ve covered some of the top questions and answers about Hawaii cruises, from what to expect on board and what activities and excursions are available, to customs and immigration procedures.

With this information in mind, you can plan your trip with confidence and enjoy a memorable voyage to one of the world’s most beautiful destinations.

Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, a Hawaii cruise has something for everyone. So why wait? Start planning your dream Hawaii cruise today!

Looking for more Hawaii travel resources? Find out the biggest Hawaii mistakes you don’t want to make!

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