CruiseMates Newsletter
 

Celebrity Holy Land Cruise
12-days to Ephesus, Israel, Rhodes and Athens starting at just $749 per person!


Holland America
Special Offers - Sign up for a chance to win a cruise for two!

CruiseMates Cruise, Europe 2012
Brand new Carnival Breeze 14-days Barcelona to Italy from $1499.
CruiseMates Cruise 2012

CRUISE NEWS


We want your cruise reviews!
CruiseMates started publishing our readers' cruise reviews long before other web sites even thought of it. We already have thousands of reviews online, but there are never enough! CruiseMates and our sister site cruisereviews.com both want more of YOUR cruise reviews. So, please send them to us:

kiplingers

Kiplinger's Magazine named CruiseMates to its Top 25 Best Value Travel Sites

CruiseMates is the most useful cruise-review site. We especially like its advice columns, which are written for people of different ages and interests.


 
08.04.11

The active volcano in Hawaii (the big island) is one of the most amazing sites in the world

The Only Way to See Hawaii
Everyone knows Hawaii is an extraordinary destination, but what is the best way to see it - staying in land-based resort or by cruise ship? The state of Hawaii is actually comprised of several hundred islands stretching nearly 1500 miles, but only four have a significant population. Oahu has the capital city Honolulu, Maui is one of the most popular, Kauai is considered the most beautiful but the big island of Hawaii is arguably the most interesting because of its very active volcano.

Unfortunately, if you choose a land-based resort then getting from one island to another is a challenge. The ferry system between the islands was discontinued last year. Now the only option is to fly - the longest distance, between Hawaii and Kauai, requiring 90 minutes.

Our recommendation is to take a cruise in Hawaii, but not necessarily to cruise "to" Hawaii. Two obscure federal laws, The Passenger Vessel Services act and the Jones Act, 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.


See all of the great special values from Holland America here!
Sign up for special offers. Win a cruise for two!
Holland America Line

Only one ship complies with the arcane federal laws; Pride of America operated by NCL-America, a division of Norwegian Cruise Lines. The ship begins a seven day cruise in Honolulu - visits all of the best sites in the entire island chain - and ends in the same spot seven days later - spending every single day in port - with no days at sea and three overnights.

Pride of America sails out of Honolulu on Saturday nights. Sunday, it arrives in Maui at 8:00 a.m. and stays overnight to sail at 6:00 p.m. Monday night. Tuesday it reaches Hilo (Hawaii) at 8:00 a.m. The more adventurous people go to the volcano and hike over the cooled moonscape of black crystalline lava to reach a point where they can see the liquid gold with their own two eyes. I have done this and it is spectacular, but not for the faint of heart or less than physically fit. As you get deeper into the volcano area the oxygen in the air is replaced with sulfur and the temperature rises dramatically. The jagged terrain of solid rock means there is no marked trail and it is very easy to sprain an ankle or cut your foot.

The ship sails from Hilo at 6:00 p.m. You could stay on the Big Island overnight and catch the ship in Kona the next day, but you would miss sailing past the volcano at night - a spectacular sight with rivers of golden lava running for miles before they steam into the sea.


An Amazing Price on a Celebrity Holy Land Cruise
12-days to Ephesus, Israel, Rhodes and Athens starting at just $749 per person!
Celebrity Cruises

Day six (Thursday) you arrive in Kauai, the "Garden Isle" where you can visit the famous "Fern Grotto" or Waimea Canyon, known as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." You sail from Kauai at 2:00 p.m., Friday, so you can see the most dramatic sunset of your life - along the striking red cliffs of the islands' Na Pali coastline. At sunset these red sandstone cliffs, rising as high as 4000 feet, glow as if on fire. The only way to see this view is from the sea upon a cruise ship.

NCL-America's one ship, Pride of America, is the only mainstream cruise ship (80,000-tons) in the world with an all-American crew. The ship has an "American" theme to its décor, which is fitting for its name, but in most respects it is a "Norwegian Free-style" ship. There are 10 restaurants on board, some with an extra service charge and some included in the cruise fare. The nighttime shows often feature true Hawaiian folkloric artists - one of the advantages to keeping the ship in port overnight. Because the cruise begins and ends in Honolulu you can also choose to arrive a day or two early and stay in a hotel to see Oahu before your cruise starts.


CruiseMates Cruise - Europe 2012
Sail on the Brand New Carnival Breeze on a 14-day cruise from Barcelona to Italy starting at $1499 per person.
Carnival Breeze 2012

Prices for the 7-day cruise start at about $1049 per person for an inside cabin, and about $1549 for a verandah cabin. The rates are slightly higher because it costs the company a lot more to operate a vessel within the restrictions of federal law. They must have an all-American crew and the ship must be registered and maintained in the United States.

The experience of cruising with an all-American staff is admittedly different from an average cruise, but we recommend this cruise highly as a way to see Hawaii. If all you are looking for is a "sit by the pool to drink pina coladas" cruise then you can go to Mexico or the Caribbean for less. But for a fantastic, destination-based cruise, seeing Hawaii on Pride of America is one of the "required" cruises for all experienced cruisers.

gray hr

new feature articles

Security Concerns Disappear When Passengers Are Willing to Pay A Fee?
Veteran, or even recent past cruisers, will remember when requests from guests for a tour of the ship's Bridge were met with a grimaced face reply. Not anymore. blue arrows

Europe 2012 CruiseMates Cruise
A New CruiseMates Group Cruise – With A Great European Itinerary for any ship - at a great price. blue arrows

Free Cruise Scams Return
The offical ship review of the brand new Celebrity Silhouette - just brought into service for 2011 Med cruises. blue arrows

Celebrity Silhouette Reviewed
I thought it would be fun to replicate the movie "Out To Sea," with Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau, by taking my brother on a cruise. blue arrows

On Seabourn with Newt Gingrich
The Gingriches enjoy a well-deserved cruise vacation despite some silly media rhetoric. One couple got to know them onboard. blue arrows

Med Bargains Get Even Better
This fall brings a 12-Day Celebrity Holy Land cruise starting at just $799 per person. blue arrows

Behind the Scenes Ship Tours
Now you can see "behind the scenes" on tours offered by Norwegian, Princess, Carnival and - announced just yesterday - Royal Caribbean. blue arrows

gray hr

Read about CruiseMates

NEW YORK TIMES:
"Many sites that offer reviews are selling cruises, which raises questions about impartiality. An exception is CruiseMates."

FORTUNE MAGAZINE:
"The Web's best site for articles, advice, or chatting with Cruise People. Self-financed and run independently of the industry, so their opinions are impartial"