5 Reasons Early December is a Great Time to Cruise Hawaii

by  Donna Heiderstadt | Oct 15, 2018
Kauai, Hawaii
Kauai, Hawaii / iStock

If you’re eager to visit Hawaii and enjoy cruising, you’d be right to think that anytime is the right time to cruise the islands. But if taking the trip hinges upon you finding a great deal—on both airfare and cruise price—consider booking in early December.

Here are five reasons to cruise Hawaii between Thanksgiving and Christmas, plus the trips you can still book for 2018.

Tis the season to give yourself a vacation before the holiday madness.

Travel insiders have known for years that the two or three weeks just before the Christmas holidays are some of the best for snagging travel bargains—often at the last minute. In Hawaii, high-season prices won’t kick in until the third week of December. That means if you book from the weekend after Thanksgiving (which is early this year, on November 22nd) until around December 16, you could score a bargain cruise fare. And if cruising from Honolulu, you can take advantage of early December’s low hotel prices and extend your visit.

The weather is the exact opposite of the North Pole.

Hawaii is balmy year-round, but December temperatures average 82 during the day and 69 at night, which is pretty much ideal for cruising. Yes, you may encounter a bit of rain (Hawaii gets most of its precipitation during the winter months), but showers are typically localized in the mountains, valleys, and along the windward (northeast-facing) coasts, and they don’t usually last long. Plus, the added moisture means the islands will be exceptionally lush and green.

You don’t need Black Friday to get a great deal on a flight.

Part of the expense of cruising Hawaii is getting there; it’s a long flight (11 hours from New York nonstop and six hours from Los Angeles) and airfares reflect the great distance. But right now, flights from New York to Honolulu in early December can be booked for less than $550 (and under $800 for nonstops) and fares from Los Angeles to Honolulu start at $285. There are also roundtrip itineraries to Hawaii from Los Angeles, where you can easily book a nonstop from most cities around the country for under $350.

Last-minute cruises make great surprise gifts.

With so many people focused on preparing for the holidays, December vacations are often an afterthought, so it’s possible to snag last-minute deals on seven-night roundtrip Honolulu cruises as well as longer itineraries from Los Angeles to Hawaii. It’s a great way to surprise someone special (your significant other, perhaps, or your retired parents). Here are a few options to consider:

  • Norwegian, which is the only cruise line sailing the Hawaiian Islands year-round, offers seven-night roundtrips from Honolulu onboard its 2,186-passenger Pride of America on Nov. 24, Dec. 1, Dec. 8, and Dec. 15, priced from $1,099 per person (for an inside cabin) to $1,499 (for a balcony cabin). The itinerary departs from Honolulu and spends two days on each of the other main islands: Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai.

  • Princess has a 15-night Hawaii cruise aboard the 3,080-passenger Emerald Princess departing Los Angeles on Dec. 4 and priced from $1,198 per person for an inside cabin to $1,748 per person for a balcony cabin. The itinerary spends full days (nine to 16 hours) in port on Oahu, Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island and also calls on Ensenada, Mexico. And with nine sea days, there’s plenty of time to work on your tan and looked rested and refreshed for the holidays.

  • Carnival offers a 14-night sailing from Long Beach aboard its 3,012-passenger Carnival Splendor on Dec. 1, priced from $1,174 per person for an inside cabin and $1,589 for an oceanview cabin. The itinerary offers full days on Maui, Oahu, the Big Island, and Kauai as well as Ensenada, Mexico and has eight “Fun Days at Sea.”

Seasonal celebrations will get you in the holiday mood—with a tropical twist.

Cruising in early December has an added bonus: a festive onboard vibe that embraces holiday traditions with decked-out public spaces and special entertainment. Plus, if you’ve never experienced Christmas Hawaiian-style, you’ll enjoy posing with Santa and his elves (they wear Aloha shirts) and learn to say Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas in Hawaiian) while ashore. And did you know that Hawaiians eagerly await certain ships in December—the “Christmas tree ships” that have been ferrying freshly cut pine trees to the islands for decades.

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