We do not like to book tours throught the ship. I research via the internet for tour companies. Except for Oahu and the movie tour in Kaui I have found nothing. All the tours either leave before the ship docks or return after the ship departs. The companies indicate on thier web site that the timing may not work if on a cruise ship. has anyone sailed to Hawaii and were there tours off the ship you could get or were you on your own witha car rental if you did not purchase a ship's tour.
We hardly ever take tours in Hawaii. At some ports we just wander around town (Lahaina and Kona are good for this) while at others we take "The Bus" (Honolulu), and in others we rent cars, which gives you the most flexibility (Kauai, Kona, Lahaina, Hilo). Nearly all of the car rental companies provide shuttle buses that pick you up at the pier. We have had good success with Alamo. Book on-line, then confirm shuttle arrangments by phone with the specific local office.
We've done an Hawaiian cruise and 2 weeks on land. When staying on land we found that EVERYTHING in Hawaii starts early. Most tours are gone by 7AM and scuba divers meet at 6AM. This is done to take advantage of the cooler weather and calm winds the mornings offer. It gets pretty quiet on the water when the trade winds begin picking up. Although ship's tours are not the most desireable, they are the most logical for Hawaii.