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With its picture-perfect beaches, stunning volcanoes and vibrant culture, it’s no wonder Hawaii is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. But for some, the thought of boarding a long-haul flight to get there is daunting.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: While flying is by far the most common and convenient way to reach Hawaii, you can also get there without flying by taking a cruise ship from the U.S. West Coast or catching a cargo ship from the mainland.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore all your options for getting to Hawaii without having to step foot on an airplane. We’ll look at the pros and cons of traveling by cruise ship, cargo ship and sailing boat.

We’ll also break down the costs, routes, amenities and duration for each non-flight option. By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to plan your flight-free Hawaiian vacation.

Taking a Cruise to Hawaii

Taking a Cruise to HawaiiIf you’re looking for a unique and adventurous way to get to Hawaii without flying, consider taking a cruise. Cruising to Hawaii allows you to enjoy a leisurely journey across the Pacific Ocean while exploring different ports of call along the way.

It’s a fantastic alternative to flying that offers a more relaxed and scenic travel experience.

Popular Cruise Lines and Routes

Several cruise lines offer trips to Hawaii, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International.

These cruise lines provide various itineraries that depart from different ports on the west coast of the United States, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.

The routes typically include stops at multiple Hawaiian islands, allowing passengers to experience the beauty and culture of each one.

Also read: What Cruise Lines Go To Hawaii: A Comprehensive Overview

Cost Comparison to Flying

While the cost of a cruise to Hawaii may initially seem higher than a plane ticket, it’s important to consider what’s included in the price.

A cruise fare usually covers accommodations, meals, and entertainment onboard, which can make it a cost-effective option compared to booking a flight, hotel, and meals separately.

Additionally, some cruise lines offer promotions, discounts, or package deals, making it possible to find great deals on a Hawaiian cruise.

According to a study conducted by Cruise Critic, the average cost of a seven-night Hawaiian cruise ranges from $1,500 to $3,500 per person, depending on the cruise line, cabin type, and travel season. Keep in mind that prices can vary, so it’s always a good idea to compare different cruise options to find the best deal for your budget.

Also read: How Much Is A Cruise To Hawaii? A Complete Breakdown Of Costs

Amenities and Activities Onboard

One of the advantages of cruising to Hawaii is the abundance of amenities and activities available onboard. Cruise ships are like floating resorts, offering a wide range of entertainment options, dining venues, pools, spas, fitness centers, and even theaters. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to relax, indulge, and stay entertained throughout your journey.

Onboard activities can include live shows, musical performances, cooking demonstrations, fitness classes, and even educational lectures about Hawaii’s history and culture.

Plus, many cruise lines offer shore excursions at each port of call, allowing you to explore the islands further through activities like snorkeling, hiking, or taking guided tours.

Duration and Itinerary

The duration of a Hawaiian cruise can vary depending on the cruise line and itinerary you choose. Most cruises range from 7 to 14 nights, allowing you to spend ample time exploring the islands. The itineraries usually include stops at popular Hawaiian destinations like Honolulu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.

When planning your Hawaiian cruise, consider the time you’ll have on each island and the specific activities or attractions you’d like to experience. Some itineraries offer overnight stays in certain ports, giving you the chance to immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy the nightlife.

Traveling by Cargo Ship

Cargo Ship

If you’re looking for an alternative way to get to Hawaii without flying, consider traveling by cargo ship. This unique mode of transportation allows you to experience a slower, more leisurely journey while enjoying the scenic views of the ocean.

While it may not be as fast as flying, it offers a sense of adventure and a chance to disconnect from the fast-paced world we live in.

Transit Time and Schedules

The transit time and schedules for cargo ships vary depending on the route and the shipping company. Generally, the journey from the west coast of the United States to Hawaii takes about 5-7 days.

However, it’s important to note that cargo ships have different departure dates and may not operate on a daily basis. Planning ahead and checking the schedules of different shipping companies is crucial to ensure you have a smooth journey.

Booking Logistics and Costs

Booking a trip on a cargo ship requires some additional logistics compared to traditional travel methods. You’ll need to contact shipping companies directly to inquire about availability, prices, and booking procedures.

Keep in mind that cargo ship travel is not as straightforward as booking a flight, and availability may be limited.

The cost of traveling by cargo ship can vary depending on factors such as the length of the journey, the season, and the amenities provided on board. It’s recommended to research and compare prices from different shipping companies to find the best option for your budget.

Also read: How Much Does It Cost To Ship To Hawaii?

Amenities and Room Types

While cargo ships may not offer the same level of luxury as cruise ships, they do provide comfortable accommodations and essential amenities for passengers.

Most cargo ships have basic cabin rooms with shared facilities, including dining areas, lounges, and recreational spaces. Some ships may also offer private cabins with en-suite bathrooms for a higher cost.

It’s important to note that the amenities and room types may vary between different shipping companies, so it’s wise to inquire about the specific details before booking your trip.

Immigration and Customs Procedures

Before embarking on your cargo ship journey to Hawaii, it’s important to understand the immigration and customs procedures involved. As with any international travel, you will need to carry a valid passport and comply with the immigration requirements of both the departure and destination countries.

Additionally, you may need to declare any goods or items you are bringing with you. It’s recommended to check the official websites of the relevant immigration and customs authorities for up-to-date information and guidelines regarding cargo ship travel.

Traveling by cargo ship can be a unique and memorable experience, offering a different perspective on your journey to Hawaii. While it may require some additional planning and flexibility, it can be a great alternative for those who prefer a slower and more adventurous mode of transportation.

So, why not consider ditching the traditional flights and embark on a cargo ship adventure to the beautiful islands of Hawaii?

Also read: Do You Need A Visa For Hawaii On An H-1B?

Sailing to Hawaii

Route Options from West Coast

If you’re looking to sail to Hawaii without flying, there are a few route options available from the West Coast of the United States. The most common routes are from California or Washington, with San Francisco and Seattle being popular starting points.

These routes typically involve sailing southwest towards the Hawaiian Islands, taking advantage of prevailing winds and ocean currents.

Finding a Suitable Boat

When it comes to sailing to Hawaii, finding a suitable boat is crucial. You’ll need a vessel that is seaworthy and capable of handling long distances at sea. Sailboats are the most common choice for this type of journey, as they rely on wind power and are more fuel-efficient.

It’s important to ensure that the boat is well-maintained and equipped with the necessary safety gear.

Provisioning and Planning

Before embarking on your sailing adventure to Hawaii, it’s important to carefully plan and provision for the journey. This includes stocking up on enough food, water, and fuel to sustain you for the duration of the trip.

It’s also essential to consider the weather conditions and potential hazards along the way. Consulting nautical charts and weather forecasts will help you make informed decisions and ensure a smooth journey.

Also read: What Not To Bring To Hawaii: 15 Things To Leave At Home

Safety Considerations

When sailing to Hawaii, safety should be a top priority. It’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of navigation, seamanship, and emergency procedures. Investing in proper safety equipment, such as life jackets, emergency beacons, and communication devices, is essential.

Additionally, ensuring that you have a reliable means of communication with the outside world, such as a satellite phone or radio, can provide peace of mind.

Sailing to Hawaii without flying can be an incredible adventure, allowing you to experience the beauty of the ocean and the sense of accomplishment that comes with a long-distance voyage.

However, it’s important to remember that this type of journey requires careful planning, preparation, and experience. By following these guidelines and consulting with experienced sailors, you can make your dream of sailing to Hawaii a reality.

Also read: When Is The Best Time To Cruise To Hawaii?


While flying may still be the easiest and quickest way to get to Hawaii for most travelers, we’ve seen there are several other options for getting there without boarding a plane.

Taking a cruise ship allows you to relax and enjoy onboard amenities during the week-long voyage from the U.S. West Coast. Cargo ships offer basic accommodations at affordable rates for those who want a more adventurous crossing. And more intrepid travelers can even sail there themselves with proper boat preparations.

No matter which option you choose, you’re sure to be greeted in Hawaii by beautiful beaches, island culture and amazing sights. The journey itself will be an unforgettable experience. So next time you plan a Hawaiian vacation, consider leaving the airplane behind and taking to the open ocean for a trip you won’t soon forget.

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