I've heard that for the longest time cruises sailing to/from Hawaii had to cross an international border (something to do with cruise companies not being registered in the US) and because of this one could not get a sailing from say, California to Hawaii or vice versa. Is this true?
I've also heard that some cruise line has gotten a permit to sail from hawaii to a US port. If anyone has any enlightening information, please share.
You have it basically right. Non US flagged cruise ships must have at least one port in the itinerary that is outside the US. Most Hawaiian cruises are repositioning cruises as ships go to, or return from, servicing the Alaska market. As a result, they sail from Ensenada to Hawaii, then they'll do Hawaii to Vancouver (and of course the reverse at the end of the Alaska season). Princess alternates cruises between Hawaii and Tahiti.
Until a few years ago, American Hawaiian operated a US flagged ship (Independence) that did only the Hawaiian Islands. They also began sailing a refurbished HAL ship as United States Lines(Patriot). They went out of business after 9/11. NCL has one ship there year round.Currently, to satisfy the foriegn port "thing" they make a bee line down to Fanning Island In the Republic of Kirboti. (nearest foriegn port). This takes up half of a 7 day cruise however.
NCL has purchased the hulls of two ships that US Lines were constructing and intends to flag them as US ships, sail with 100% US crews and therefore eliminate the foriegn port requirement. They are to go to the Hawaiian market.They have also purchased the hull of the SS United States (once the flag ship of US cruise liners), and intend to refurbish it and sail it in US waters as well.
Now you know all there is to know.
Thanks for the info, that was very clear and informative. I'm glad there will be cruise ships on the market that will allow a US to US cruise. I'm planning a vow-renewal in 2005 (we eloped) and I'd love to be able to start in Hawaii and end in San Francisco (30 minutes from home).
Holland America and Princess will both be doing roundtrip cruises to Hawaii - H.A. from San Diego, and Princess from Los Angeles (San Pedro.) They both make 1 hour "service" stops in Ensenada on the way back to their home ports.
Regarding the international border thing, I just happened to be doing some reading on this topic this morning. From Hawaii magazine, May/June 2003:
"The Passenger Vessel Services Act requires ships constructed overseas to make a foreign stop during U.S. cruises; to satisfy that NCL's Hawaii tours now visit Fanning Island in the Republic of Kiribati."
Hope this helps somewhat...
NCL's new Pride of America will sail to Hawaii from San Francisco next year, but it will be a repostioning cruise. I don't think it will become a regularly scheduled itinerary, unfortunately.
Besides, from reading I have done, I don't think I would be happy on NCL, due to all that I have read about their style. NCL has advertised that they will have a lot of adjoining cabins for families on the Pride of America, and that means there is a strong likelihood that there will be many more children and more noise, (due to the number of children onboard and also due to the nature of adjoining cabin construction), neither of which is attractive to me. NCL also has a poor passenger to crew ratio, and a poor passenger space ratio. It sounds like a recipe for long lines and lots of crowds.
There will be no casino aboard, which doesn't matter to me one way or the other.
I enjoyed Personal Choice on Princess, and Freestyle would be fun to try, so if the ship has the equivalent of a "Celebrity Escape" sailing (adults only), I would certainly consider that.
Most of all, though, is that the itinerary should include SEVERAL overnight stops in port on some sailings. It's a real shame to miss out on Hawaiian nightlife ashore. If I am going to fly to Hawaii and take a cruise there, then, it needs to be longer than 7 days. I would like to see a NCL include at least one itinerary of 10 days per month (HNL roundtrip HNL) to accomodate the passengers who would like to do that. A longer cruise might have fewer children aboard if it is not during the summer, so that itinerary would almost accomplish the same thing as an adults only cruise.
There are options: Princess does a 15 day RT from Los Angeles on the Island
Princess; Celebrity does a 15 day RT from San Diego on the Infinity (we just booked
that cruise- sailing date is 5 December 2004, with just a few outside cabins left);
and Royal Olympia Cruises does a 15 day RT from San Franciso on the Olympic
Voyager. All make a stop in Ensenada to fulfill the Jones Act requirements, but
the convenience of beginning and ending at a US port is available! And all are
for 2004-2005 sailings.
I left out Holland America- Statendam also does a 15 day RT from San Diego with
a stop in Ensenada. However, the early booking rates for their cruises to Hawaii
are in my opinion way too high when compared to the other cruiselines I mentioned
above and Holland America is comparable to Celebrity and Princess which are
considerably more affordable. As far as I know, Holland America are not offering
any significant discounts! No wonder there is a "feeding frenzy" going on with
Celebrity's Infinity Cruise of 5 Dec 2004 with such great prices! When I booked
today for that cruise, there were very few balcony cabins left! My TA says that this
cruise is filling up fast - very unusual this far in advance of the sailing date!
Just curious when did you book the Celebrity Infinity 15-night out of San Diego and what approximately did you pay? I like always book early. Would you suggest booking this one year in advance?
2008 Liberty OTS (Caribbean)
2007 Summit (Alaska)
2006 Century, Infinity (Panama Canal), Summit (Hawaii)
2005 Millenium, Voyager of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas B2B
2004 Explorer of the Seas, Constellation (Canada/New England)
2003 Horizon (Bermuda), Summit
2002 Explorer of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas (Caribbean)
We booked the Holland America round trip Hawaii cruise out of Seattle as soon as it was offered. Our sailing date is April 21st...with a stop in Vancouver BC for our foreign port. The price started out at $6703 for the two of us but I kept my eye on it and called my travel agent everytime there was a sale. It finally dipped to $4609. For an 18 day cruise (inside cabin) I think it's a reasonable price.