AXA Travel Stories

AXA Stories

Personal narratives from travelers who share their unique experiences and adventures from around the world.

Our Unforgettable Hawaiian Cruise Itinerary

At AXA, we understand the allure of seamless travel experiences. In this captivating story by Shruti, discover the unparalleled convenience and excitement of a Hawaiian cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line. Packed with practical tips and personal anecdotes, her journey highlights the ease of island-hopping without the hassle of flights.

Embark on our journey to a Unforgettable Hawaiian Cruise

Embark on our journey with us as we recount our unforgettable Hawaiian escapade aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line. Opting for a cruise proved to be a stroke of brilliance, allowing us to seamlessly explore all of Hawaii’s islands without the hassle of constant flights. 
 

From witnessing breathtaking sunrises at Leahi Diamond Head to finding serenity at the tranquil Byodo-In Temple, our adventure kicked off with a burst of excitement and wonder. 
 

Join me and my husband as we share our exhilarating experiences, breathtaking moments, and unexpected surprises that made cruising around Hawaii the ultimate travel choice.
 

Why we chose a cruise? 

We chose Norwegian Cruise Line for our Hawaii trip because it allowed us to visit all the islands without the hassle of flying in between—super convenient. We even managed to do some things we didn’t think we could fit in! 

 

Pre-cruise exploration of Oahu

Our adventure began in Oahu as our flight landed early in the morning, at 4AM. We got ourselves situated at the airport, rented a car, and our adventure began as we headed towards Leahi Diamond Head. We were not allowed to make it to the peak due to park hours, but we managed to watch the sunrise from the base parking spot. It was beautiful!

 

A sunset over water with the sun setting

Description automatically generated  

 

We then headed to one of the most serene spots, the Byodo-In Temple on Oʻahu. This place is tucked away in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, and let me tell you, the drive there was breathtaking. 

 

We managed to slip in a quick breakfast before we arrived at The Byodo-In Temple, which opened at 8AM. The temple itself is a non-denominational Buddhist temple, and it’s the perfect spot of peace and beauty. Walking through the grounds, you really get a sense of calm, away from the usual hustle of tourist spots. 

 

A road with palm trees and a mountain in the background

Description automatically generatedA person in a red dress posing for a picture

Description automatically generatedA building with a mountain in the background

Description automatically generated


After this, we headed to the Waikiki beach, where we had pre-booked a beginner scuba diving lesson at the Magic Island Lagoon from Viator for $99 for two people at around 12 PM. 

 

When we arrived, we slipped into our suits, and the instructor gave us a 15-minute lesson. We spent a good hour in the water, and we’re glad we experienced scuba diving for the first time. It was scary in the beginning, but worth it for the memories. 

 

Afterward, we freshened up and went straight to cruise check-in. 

 

A person underwater with fish

Description automatically generatedA group of people posing for a picture

Description automatically generated


Embarking on the Norwegian Cruise Line

When we got to the boat, check-in was from 12PM to 6PM. They welcomed us with cool shell leis, which was a nice touch. Also, they handed over ship IDs, which are important to carry at all times. When we boarded the ship, they gave us a quick tour and the dos and don'ts of the ship, all that good stuff. Then, we went straight to the lunch buffet, we were famished after all of our activities. 

 

A person sitting at a table with plates of food

Description automatically generated A person and person taking a selfie in front of a cruise ship

Description automatically generated
 

Then we got to our room. It was sweet… it was spacious, and we had our own balcony to chill on. And get this - every day, they slipped us an itinerary that had the whole day’s menu from all the restaurants and the lineup of activities. It made planning our days a breeze. At this point, we were sure that we had chosen the best cruise to Hawaii. 

 

A bed in a room

Description automatically generated  A room with a bed and a couch

Description automatically generated A blue and white newspaper with black text

Description automatically generated

 

Our day-by-day Hawaiian cruise itinerary
 

Day 1: Exploring Maui's underwater world

For day one, we reached Maui, had a wonderful breakfast on the cruise, and headed towards the airport by Uber to pick up the rental car. Luckily, we were able to upgrade to a Mustang for an extra $30. Then we hit up Molokini Crater for some snorkeling.

 

A person in a snorkeling mask and fins swimming in the water

Description automatically generated


We had booked with Bossfrog.com through GetYourGuide.com for a noon slot—rare for the weather to be as nice as it was, but luck was on our side. And guess what? We saw whales on the boat ride over. 

 

The crew was great, handing out snacks and hot dogs during the 3-hour trip. Meanwhile, on the cruise, there was a Hawaiian Luau, which displayed traditional Hawaiian cuisine, music, and dance, celebrating the island's culture and community.

 

Since our Norwegian Cruise Line ship was docked overnight, we were allowed to return at any time as long as we carried our ship ID they provided. We parked the car in the nearby Shopping complex for free. It was around 15 mins walk to the dock.

 

Day 2: The Big Island (Hawaii)

For day two, when we first planned this Hawaii trip, the first thing we did was book our spot to see the Haleakala sunrise in Maui. The Haleakala Sunrise has always been on my bucket list.

A hand holding a book

Description automatically generatedA person and person sitting on a rock with the sun shining through the clouds

Description automatically generatedA mountain landscape with the sun shining

Description automatically generated


Here’s the logistics: You go online to reacreation.gov, reserve your spot for the Haleakala National Park sunrise, and also book your Parking spot, we booked the Hawaii Tri-Park Annual Pass, which cost us $55, and you’re set. 

 

Just remember to do it as early as you can because spots fill up fast. If you ever want to switch it up, do the sunset at Haleakala instead. So, we did the sunrise at Haleakala in Maui, which was breathtaking. Stars like you wouldn't believe and seriously chilly, so bring a good jacket. Totally worth it. 

 

Day 3: Exploring the Big Island (Hilo)

On day three in Hilo, we checked out Hawaii Volcano National Park. It was interesting to see an active volcano. No, we weren’t that lucky to see an erupting volcano. But we skipped the hike through the crater and drove to see the sea arch, which has amazing views. We had the Hawaii Tri-Park Annual Pass, which covered our vehicle parking fees.

 

A large crater with smoke coming out of it

Description automatically generatedA close-up of a rocky beach

Description automatically generatedA rocky cliff with waves crashing on it

Description automatically generatedA map of craters road

Description automatically generated

 

Even though the Chain of Crater Road was a long drive, we enjoyed it. I also wanted to check out the Black Sand beach - in Honolulu. It was another one-hour drive.

A person holding black sand in their hands

Description automatically generated  A person sitting on rocks by water

Description automatically generated

 

Day 4: Kona - Unwinding on the Cruise Ship and Underwater Exploration

Kona was next on our Hawaiian cruise itinerary. We relaxed on the cruise, woke up late, and just headed to the Island. Bringing our own snorkeling gear was a game-changer. If you can, do it—it saves time and lets you see the underwater world on your terms. You could also rent snorkeling gear.

 

Day 5: Hiking Adventures at Waimea Canyon

On day five of our Hawaii cruise trip, we went to Waimea Canyon. This location offered ATV tours, allowing you to explore more rugged areas. But don’t worry, there’s plenty to see without one, too. 
 

A person and person posing for a picture

Description automatically generated  

If you plan to hike, make sure to bring good hiking shoes, because we did not. We were not expecting such a trek, and the trail was a bit slippery. Overall, the hiking portion was ok and it took us about an hour, but the views were amazing.

 

A person walking on a trail in the woods

Description automatically generated A person standing on a hill with mountains in the background

Description automatically generated

 

Day 6: Poolside Fun and Dolphin Spotting

On day six, we relaxed and enjoyed the cruise. We utilized the spacious pool, watched the dolphins, and, I forgot to mention, celebrated our anniversary! We then partied hard!

A fish swimming in the water

Description automatically generatedA person standing next to a chessboard

Description automatically generatedA person playing basketball on a court

Description automatically generated       

 

Day 7: Exploring Pearl Harbor

Our trip wrapped up with a visit to Pearl Harbor back in Honolulu. No fancy tours are needed—we were able to snag free tickets on Recreation.gov. We chose a noon slot for the USS Arizona because of our cruise schedule and had plenty of time before our 5 PM flight. We got to see a big Rainbow as we departed for the airport.

 

A person standing in front of a glass case

Description automatically generated  A person in a blue dress by the water

Description automatically generated  A person standing on a sidewalk with a rainbow in the background

Description automatically generated

The Bottom Line 

Cruising around Hawaii was the best choice. It made it easy to island hop; we got to experience lots of different food options, and there were endless activities to do. Our Norwegian Hawaiian cruise itinerary provided a perfect balance of exploration and relaxation. We would totally recommend it.

Get a quote

Related Articles

Packing Tips for Traveling with a Newborn

Learn practical packing tips for traveling with a newborn from an experienced mom, Alex. 

How We Managed Traveling To Japan With A Baby

In this engaging story by Megan, discover the joys and challenges of traveling to Japan with a baby.

Real Life Stories: our customers testify in a new episode

Get A QUOTE