Travel on cargo ships Hawaii to Canada

Traveling to Hawaii by ship affords the traveler a different perspective on the islands.Traveling to Hawaii by ship affords the traveler a different perspective on the islands. (Photo: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images )

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Imagine lounging on the top deck of the cruise ship, a couple days out to sea, when you glance out to where a craggy volcano thrusts its cone over the horizon. In winter, it may even be snow capped. This vision of Hawaii is just like the one seen by the Marquesans who settled this remote island chain and the European explorers and American whalers who followed. Cruise ships currently offer the only direct sea routes to Hawaii from the United States mainland. Citizens of other countries may be able to book travel on a freighter that services the islands.

Items you will need

  • Dinner and casual clothes
  • Swimwear
  • Sunscreen

Step 1

Schedule sufficient time for your trip. Mainland departures from Hawaii tend to have longer itineraries to allow for the 3- to 5-day crossing. Block enough days on your calendar to allow for the crossing, your time in the islands and the return trip.

Step 2

Choose the port where you wish to embark. Ships depart regularly from the North American continent to Hawaii via San Diego or Los Angeles, California; Seattle, Washington; Ensenada, Mexico; or Vancouver, British Columbia. Your choice of departure city will dictate the ships and itineraries available for a ship to Hawaii. If you select a one-way itinerary, the options are considerably fewer.

Step 3

Book your passage. Use a travel agent or a cruise booking site to help you select the cruise or ship that best fits your schedule or needs. Along with round-trip cruises to and from the mainland and island cruises departing from Honolulu, some lines offer one-way cruises. This type of itinerary allows you to leave from the mainland for a trans-Pacific experience, see the islands without having to unpack and repack your bags several times then remain in the islands or fly home from Honolulu.


  • Pack a remedy for motion sickness, such as Dramamine or prescription ear patches, and use it regularly. The Pacific is a big ocean with huge swells. Regardless of your ship's size or stabilizing technology, you will feel the motion of the ocean and should prepare accordingly to keep your cruise experience enjoyable.

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