Perhaps it was fear derived the government’s proposed changes to the enforcement of the Passenger Service Act or purely market forces, but never the less, cruise passengers have fewer options from which to choose when planning their Hawaiian cruise vacation than they did just a few years ago.
The Passengers Service Vessel act states that ships transporting passengers between to US ports must be American staffed and built. Non American ships must visit a foreign port in order to travel between US cities. This is why one way cruises to or from Hawaii tend to start or end either in Vancouver or Ensanada. Circle cruises that start and end on the west coast often make a stop in Ensanada. That stop used to be only a “technical” stop for a few minutes in the middle of the last night of the cruise. Currently the law is enforced such lat that the vessel must spend significant time in the foreign port. The proposed enforcement change to the law would require at least 24 hours in a foreign port. This would allow less days in a Hawaii for cruise ship passengers.
Last year, the US government choose not to make any changes to the enforcement, however they left the option open for changes in the way the law is enforced in the future. Some lines like, Holland America took preemptive action against the proposed law enforcement changes and now begins or ends their Circle Hawaii cruises either as San Diego-Vancouver or vice versa. Princess still offers round trip cruises to and from Los Angels but they now only make 4 stops in Hawaii and now have a 7 hour stay in Ensenada. Carnival offers 12 day one way cruises to or from Hawaii that now start or end in either Vancouver or Ensendada. Celebrity has now completely pulled out of this market, with parent company Royal Caribbean choosing to service this market with a few shoulder season (Spring and Fall) one way cruises in and out of Vancouver on RCCL ships. The only year round cruises that are currently offered to the exclusive Hawaiian market is the one American flagged NCL America ship left circling the islands. Pride of America offers 7 night cruises around the island on a year round basis. However, this line has received heavy criticism for not offering the same service level of service that frequent cruises are used to.
Our family was lucky enough to be able to enjoy a Hawaii round trip cruise out of San Diego. This meant an easy flight in an out of the conveniently located San Diego airport, 5 days in the Hawaiian islands, nearly 10 wonderful days at sea, and only a quick stop in Ensendada. While the enforcement of the law was not officially changed, the threat of that change was enough to result in cruise lines changing their ways of business in order to prevent changes to set itineraries in the future. Perhaps the most intriguing of these new itineraries are the Carnival 12 day itineraries which offer 7 days on the islands and wonderful relaxing sea days during the return to or departure from North America. Hawaii is a beautiful destination offering rich culture, breathtaking scenery, and magnificent beaches and sea life. Hawaii should be on everyone’s list of go to destinations.
If you are interested in finding a Hawaiian cruise for yourself or you family you can visit a broad search engine like Kayak to see you different options each months. If you already know which line you’d like to sail visit the websites of the above mentioned lines or contact your favorite travel agent.