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Welcome to Ahhhhhh, Hawaii. Hawaii has captured peoples imagination for decades, The Hawaiian culture, the beauty of its ocean and beaches, the mystery of its volcanoes and ancient heritage and the aloha spirit captivates those that have touched her. Hawaii remains one of the most favorite destinations in the world and for good reason.

Hawaii's charm has always been her people and incredible beauty. Many first time visitors to Hawaii choose a cruise so they can get a feel for all of the islands so that they know where they would like to spend more time when they return. It is hard to believe, but each of the islands visited by cruise lines are uniquely different from one another. and the initial exploration of each island is very stimulating to say the least.

One of the more important things to consider when selecting a cruise is that due to the Passenger Services Act (aka the Jones Act), passed in 1886, to protect US flag ships with cabotage laws, all non US flagged ships must call in a foreign port. This is the passage from the PSA that defines the law: "No foreign vessel shall transport passengers between ports or places in the United States, either directly or by way of a foreign port, under a penalty of $200 for each passenger so transported and landed." The law still stands on the books today and is strictly enforced. Until a US flagged cruise line resumes service within the state of Hawaii (American Hawaii and US Cruise Lines went bankrupt as a result of 9/11) you will have to call on a foreign port.

For that reason there are 3 different types of cruises to consider;

Cruises originating and terminating in Hawaii: Currently, NCL is the only cruise line to offer year around cruises that originate and terminate in Honolulu. In order to call on an international port, Fanning Island, in the Republic of Kiribati, some 850 miles south of the big island of Hawaii is the closest choice. NCL has purchased the two hulls that were being built by a US shipyard for the now defunct American Hawaii Cruises and intends to register them in the United States and begin service just within the state of Hawaii but until then, be prepared for the jaunt to Fanning Island.

Cruises that originate and/or terminate on the mainland U.S. or Mexico. Other cruise lines have found a market for Hawaii cruises by boarding their passengers either in the U.S. (San Diego or San Pedro) and then making a service call on Ensenada, Baja, Mexico before making the five day crossing to Hawaii. Then they cruise the islands and disembark folks in Honolulu before picking up the next load of passengers and reversing the itinerary. Royal Olympic has a ship that cruises at a speedy 28 knots and this reduces the cruising time to only three days over and another 3 days back offering a round trip cruise to Hawaii. I am sure this will be a very popular itinerary.

Repositioning cruises that originate somewhere and end up somewhere else. Many ships that summer in Alaska will cruise to Hawaii while returning to their winter home. South Pacific based cruise ships will offer this option as will some Caribbean based ships wanting to offer something a little more exciting than a coastal repositioning cruise. These can be great cruises as they offer unique back-to-back cruise opportunities.

Something to think about. When considering a Hawaii cruise be sure to understand the itinerary. If you have any health problems that could put you at risk It is imperative that you understand that you may not be able to get immediate medical support should you need it. If you are cruising between Ensenada and Hawaii, there are five days at sea to make the passage. There is nothing between Ensenada and Hawaii, so should you need emergency medical treatment, you are simply out of luck until you get within an evacuation range so that helicopters can pick you up. The same is true on the run to Fanning Island. The closest medical facilities are back in Hawaii,1and 1/2 days away. I have been on numerous cruises where they have had to turn around and run back to Hawaii due to a medical emergency. This also disrupts the itinerary, as the time must come from somewhere to pay for the medical diversion

Also, if you are prone to motion sickness, realize that you run the risk of cruising in huge Pacific swells on the run from Ensenada to Hawaii (as well as returning from Fanning Island to a lesser extent) during the winter months. Once, on a crossing on NCL's old Dynasty, we had 60 foot following seas. Sitting in the restaurant, on the aft of the ship, while it was in a trough and the next swell was approaching to pick the ship up was very stimulating.

If either of these ideas reach home with you then you might want to wait until NCL is operating is US flagged ships within the state of Hawaii.

That said, Hawaii cruising promises many things to many people. I am sure that you will enjoy your Hawaii cruise to its fullest extent.

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