Hard to cruise Hawaiian Islands

I always thought it was a given that you could cruise the Hawaiian Islands as a group, visiting each island in turn, but, apparently, it’s not really that easy.

Plenty of cruise ships visit Hawaii, but they usually only visit one port there, and it was while reading the excellent Cruisemates Newsletter that I found out that it is in fact illegal for most crusie ships to visit more than one Hawaiian port.

According to Cruisemates, and I believe them because they do know an awful lot about cruising, the problem is because of two obscure federal laws, The Passenger Vessel Services act and the Jones Act, which restrict “foreign carriers” from transporting passengers between two U.S. destinations. Since all of the ports within the Hawaiian Islands are in the U.S. the only way a regular cruise ship can give you a Hawaiian cruise is to include a stop in either Mexico or Canada before heading across the Pacific to Hawaii, usually spending four or five days at sea, before you can even begin your Hawaii adventure.

There was probably a very good reason why those two laws were introduced, and they probably hark back to the days when travelling by ship was the only viable to travel long distances over water; in other words, the laws probably pre-date aviation and were designed to protect American cruise lines from the larger European-based shipping companies.

These days, of course, they are something of an anachronism, especially as taking a vacation aboard a ship, and enjoying all the facilities you find on modern liners, is the whole point of taking a cruise.

Even if a ship of several thousand people does visit two American ports consecutively, the passengers bring vital income to those ports, so there is a great incentive to attract modern cruise liners to your home port.

As far as the Hawaiian Islands are concerned, each island is so different from its neighbours they deserve to be visited.

Fortunately, there is one ship which operates out of Honolulu and, through being notionally American owned, does comply with these arcane and stupid laws.

Pride of America is operated by NCL-America, a division of Norwegian Cruise Lines. This ship begins a seven day cruise in Honolulu, visiting all of the best sites in the entire island chain, returning to Honolulu seven days later. The attraction of this cruise is that every day is spent in a different port. It sails only at night, and even then there are three overnight stops in port. If you are looking for a proper Hawaiian cruise, this may just be the one for you.

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