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Options available for Hawaii-area cruising

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Norwegian's Pride of America.

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Norwegian's Pride of America.

We have Capt. James Cook to thank for many of the popular cruising destinations in the Pacific.

Statues of this prolific British Explorer were erected in Victoria, Hawaii, Cook Inlet in Alaska, New Zealand and Australia, to recognize he was the first European to visit these areas, in the 18th century.

While there was little in the way of amenities aboard his ships -- Resolution and Endeavour -- I'm sure he would be happy cruises to the destinations he discovered are now well-travelled.

That brings me to Hawaii. The unmistakable floral smell, beaches as far as the eye can see and the trade winds deliver an experience in these friendly islands that is always hard to duplicate.

Many Hawaiian cruises are repositioning to or from Seattle and Vancouver to the South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand during each year's seasonal shift. However, Hawaii cruise traffic continues to grow due to return trips to ports such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Norwegian spawned cruising in Hawaii by berthing three ships in Honolulu to visit the islands. Good idea, but there was too much capacity, and service suffered. Only one of Norwegian's ship remains, the 2,100-passenger Pride of America, and its prices reflect the exclusive right for a large ship serving the inter-island routes based out of Honolulu.

If you step down in size, the 36-passenger Safari Explorer leaves the big docks behind to cruise in a more adventurous way. Its cruises are experiential, its relatively small size makes itineraries flexible, and its devotion to the locals and their traditional way of life offers an experience that cannot be duplicated by larger ships.

Princess is most prolific in the Hawaiian mainland market, offering the majority of return cruises between the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii. This fall and winter, Princess is offering regular cruises between California and the Hawaiian Islands.

The Grand Princess's 15-day cruise out of San Francisco will be spent mostly at sea with port stops in Kauai (Nawiliwili), Honolulu, Maui (Lahaina) and Hilo with the mandatory non-American stop at Ensenada, Mexico on the return leg. Sapphire Princess and Star Princess offer virtually the same cruise but out of Los Angeles.

Holland America has a few Hawaiian cruises from the mainland on its schedule. For 2014, the South Pacific experience from San Diego to Vancouver will be lengthened to 33 days, circling the Hawaiian and the Marquesas islands. The Hawaiian Islands portion includes Honolulu, Maui (Lahaina) and Hilo.

One of the best ways to see the islands and combine a longer land visit in Hawaii, Vancouver or Seattle is to take one of the repositioning cruises that come up every spring and fall. On April 27, 2014, Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas will offer a cruise from Hawaii to Vancouver. En route, it will stop at Kauai (Nawiliwili), Mount Kilauea, Hilo, Maui (Lahaina), Honolulu again and, on this side of the Pacific, Victoria.s

-- Postmedia News

Visit portsandbows.com for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information. Phil Reimer may be contacted directly at portsandbows.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 1, 2013 E2

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