If you’ve fallen in love with the idea of visiting the Hawaiian islands, don’t settle for a resort-based vacation. Island hopping by plane is time-consuming and expensive; trying to do it by other means of transport is unthinkable. And let’s face it, the less time you spend travelling, the more time you have to explore the beauty and charm of these magical islands.
The answer? A cruise.
A holiday aboard a luxury cruise liner can take you effortlessly between all the must-see Hawaiian islands, whilst offering you the choice to start your round trip in some of the most exciting cities in the USA and Canada. You’ll also get to enjoy the perfect blend of care-free cruising and island adventure, with the option to book some incredible excursions and activities that will immerse you in the true spirit of Hawaii.
And while you’re at sea? Well, there are plenty of things to enjoy from world-class cuisine to relaxing spa treatments and live entertainment.
Hawaiian Islands Cruise from San Francisco
To put the theory to the test, I chose a 16-day cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii with Princess Cruises. It was an all-inclusive package that covered accommodation, dining, standard beverage package, entertainment, MedallionClass experience and crew appreciation. Princess Plus premium upgrade packages were also available for alcoholic drinks (not relevant for me as I am alcohol free) and fitness classes, which I chose not to book. But I did upgrade to an outside cabin with balcony, given the extended length of the cruise.
The Ruby Princess was incredible. My stateroom was spacious, beautifully furnished and featured an en-suite bathroom, walk-in wardrobe, TV, desk and mini fridge. I was also able to reserve the exact room that I wanted (Deck 7, in the foremost cabin in the mid-range price bracket, on the port side of the ship).
A choice of three standard and four exclusive restaurants promised delicious food to savour every evening throughout the trip, The quality was very good, with dishes to suit all tastes from vegans and vegetarians to committed meat lovers. There was also the option to visit one of the smaller snack venues during the day, and order a stateroom delivery to dine on my private balcony.
The gym was impressive too. It was fitted out with the latest equipment including bikes, rowing machines and treadmills, as well as weights and a studio area for classes. The adjacent spa facilities included a small pool, hot tubs, sauna, steam room and the option to have a range of treatments from facials to hot stone massages.
Throughout the day, the entertainment covered a broad range of interests from nature and wildlife talks to live music, quizzes and movies under the stars. There was also a huge casino that was open 24/7.
With a choice of swimming pools, sun decks and bars, indoor bars and lounges, a gallery and selection of high-end stores, plus three formal evenings to dress up for, what’s not to like – or pack!
The whole experience was brought together with the Princess MedallionExperience. A (customisable) necklace or bracelet equipped with GPS tracking, which gives you the ability to unlock your cabin door as you approach, pay for gifts and extras, and find your exact location on the ship’s app. It also identifies you to the crew, and generally tracks where you are, who you are with, and what you are eating, drinking or doing. Perfect for a cash-free, stress-free holiday (except for the Big Brother part).
One of the things I always look for in a solo holiday is the ability to go cash and card free during my stay. I don’t want the hassle and worry of carrying a purse, or having to leave in by a sun lounger while I swim in the pool or sea. But I did feel the MedallionExperience was a step too far. I couldn’t help thinking that ‘Cruise Control’ were tutting when I bought my third Silk Road Chai Tea with honey before 10am. Or that I hadn’t once ordered an alcoholic drink, or visited the casino. But although I can let my imagination run wild when it comes to conspiracy theories, it was the first-class itinerary that really appealed to my sense of adventure .
Had the medallion not been the only way to lock and unlock my cabin door, I would have ditched it in a plant pot and gone off-grid.
Click the links below to discover what you can expect on each leg of the route.
If you’re travelling solo for the first time, a cruise is a great option. There a plenty of activities that you can book where you will be part of a small group – perfect for meeting people to buddy up with on shore and on board. This particular cruise also had solo meet ups in one of the bars – an easy way to join other people if you wanted some company in the evenings.
There’s also the personal safety aspect. Despite my reservations with the MedallionExperience, it does act as a safety net by tracking your location on board the ship. It also means you don’t need to carry cash or keys during the day, giving you maximum freedom to enjoy all the facilities on board.
Maybe a cruise could be the perfect way to start your solo adventures?
Princess 16-Day Hawaiian Islands Cruise
Roundtrip from San Francisco, California
Interior cabin from £1,399*
* Prices are per person and based on double occupancy and do not include flights, transfers or accommodation in San Francisco.
Go-Solo Star Rating
* * * *