May 7. Hawaii dropped its ban on large cruise ships in January, opening the door for cruise lines to redeploy their vessels back to the Islands.
And while Hawaii has never been a major stand-alone cruise destination, with only one large ship offering interisland options, the increase in U.S. domestic cruise options means more sailings to the Islands from West Coast ports.
Due to cabotage laws, cruise ships of more than 100 passengers must touch a foreign port before visiting Hawaii; the exception is Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America, which is a U.S.-flagged ship. Most ships that leave ports in California call in Ensenada, Mexico, to comply with the law.
Princess Cruises is slated to have the largest Hawaii presence this year, with five ships visiting the Islands, including the 3,560-guest Royal Princess, the first of the line’s Royal Class ships to sail to the state. It will visit three ports: Kona, on the Big Island; Lahaina, on Maui; and Honolulu, where it will spend two days.
The Pride of America, the only U.S.-flagged large cruise ship that sails round-trip Hawaii cruises, resumed its cruises on April 9, making a slow return to the Islands. It was originally scheduled to relaunch in January but postponed that twice. It is now offering seven-day cruises visiting five ports on four Hawaiian islands.
Source: Travel Weekly