Weekly Wednesday – Let’s talk Hawai’i

Cruising the Hawaiian Islands

As Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America begins service again, I have to ask, “who doesn’t love a visit to Hawai’i?” There are two options you can use to hop from island to island; by airplane, or by sea-faring vessel. Depending on what you are hoping to see, it may influence your decision on how you experience Hawai’i. With this being a website dedicated to cruise ships, naturally, we will look at the sailing options, with a deeper dive into one specific ship that has exclusive rights to sail around the islands without making an international stop (read more about that crazy law here).

Project America

Construction began in June 2000 on the first ship that was part of a contract titled “Project America.” American Classic Voyages was the company that had dreamt up this ambitious agreement and they hired Litton Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi as the builder. There were to be two ships built, originally planned to be 72,000 GT in weight and 840 feet long. They were set to be the largest cruise ships built in the United States, the title which was previously set in 1958 by Litton Ingalls on the SS Brasil and SS Argentina.

Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, America Classic Voyages found themselves entering bankruptcy, forcing the sale of their inventory. The first ship in their “Project America” fleet had a completed hull and they were starting to pull parts together for the second ship. The duo were picked up by Norwegian Cruise Lines in late 2002, and the hull of the first ship was towed to Lloyd Werft shipyard in Germany where plans were modified and construction continued. The changes to the hull included lengthening it to 921 feet and it would bear the weight of more than 80,000 GT. The partially completed ship would be named Pride of America and the pieces of the second ship were going to make up the Pride of Hawai’i. Eventually the latter was renamed to Norwegian Jade.

Pride of America docked in Hawai’i – Photo Courtesy: wikipedia.org

Pride of America Makes Her Debut

In 2005, Pride of America made her debut trans-Atlantic sailing from the shipyards in Germany. She was christened in Manhattan, New York, and eventually made her way around to San Francisco via the Panama Canal. Once she arrived in Hawai’i, Pride of America greeted her older sister, Pride of Aloha, as they continued to sail around the Hawaiian islands together until 2008 when Pride of Aloha sailed away and returned to her former glory as the Norwegian Sky.

A Unique Ship

Built without a casino on-board, Pride of America is a truly unique cruise ship. On her itineraries, she rarely makes her way into international waters, and when a ship is in American waters (less than 12 miles from the coast), federal and state gambling laws apply. The state of Hawai’i has no form of legalized gambling which is why this ship is so unique.

Another thing that sets this cruise ship apart from the competition is the fact that she bears an American flag as a country of origin and registration. In order to maintain this status, she must comply with U.S. labor laws and the ship must be staffed by a mostly U.S. crew. By keeping compliant, the Pride of America is thus able to bypass the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886 and can complete a cruise by visiting U.S. ports without making an international stop.

Comprised of 77% exterior cabins and a large amount of deck space, Pride of America is a great way to experience the Hawaiian Islands. Her itineraries set sail round trip from Honolulu and typically take 7-days with calls at 4 ports. Other ways to sail to Hawai’i include Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line, Celebrity, etc. All of those sailings will require a minimum of 9-nights to cross the Pacific ocean, and if they didn’t start at an international port (Vancouver, Canada), they will inevitably stop at Ensenada, Mexico.

18-Night Itinerary with Holland America Line – Image courtesy: hollandamerica.com

Have you Hawai’i? It is definitely on my bucket list of cruises. Mark and I were teased by the pandemic as we had a cruise booked to Hawai’i with Carnival Cruise Lines for a remarkable price. We are watching fares like a couple of hawks and who knows, maybe you’ll get to sail with us to the far-off paradise islands in the future!

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