Cruise or Hawaii

Updated on November 24, 2013
C.O. asks from Minneapolis, MN
20 answers

We are looking into a family vacation for March 2014. We have a 9 year old boy and a 6 year old girl. So it would be 4 of us. Just looking for people's experiences. We are thinking either a cruise or Hawaii. Anyone done either or both with kids. Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the great input. We went to a travel agent on Saturday and we booked a condo in the Wailea area in Maui. The kids are beyond excited to go to the beach everyday.

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answers from Norfolk on

You're less likely to be stranded at sea until someone tows the ship into port.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Not the cruise for me - I get seasick. But the Hawaii vacation would be great! I think it's really a matter of if you want to run around and find things to do or just have the fun brought to you in one place...

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Pittsburgh on

It really depends on your family.

Do you want to sit, relax, and have drinks all afternoon while your kids are entertained at the Kids Club, then meet up later for dinner?

Or do you want to spend the afternoon with your kids, seeing touristy stuff, and trying to keep them entertained?

No judgement either way. But it's important to figure out what vacation means to you.

My husband and I work full time, and so a big part of vacation to us is reconnecting with our kids. So I would choose Hawaii where I spend all day with my kids every day (and we just went to Hawaii last month with my kids and it was fantastic).

But I know other people who LOVE cruises because they get part of the day with their kids, but then also send their kids to their programmed activity which leaves time for complete relaxation and some couple time too.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on


I've never been on a cruise and never will. I like freedom to go and do as I please and not be confined even if it is a huge ship.

We've been to Hawaii (Maui) 3 times and LOVE it. We typically go around Spring Break in March or in late February.

One of the most favorite things we did each time was go on the whale watch. It is out of the world amazing to see the beautiful whales in their environment. We took a boat from Lahania (actually a large dinghy).

Although we stayed in Ka'anopoli and Kapula Bay on our visits, we spent a lot of time in Lahania (not a big drive) to shop, eat and tour. There were sugar train rides, you can get up VERY early in the am to go to the top of a mountain to see the sunrise and bike all the way down. There's a lot to do and we were never bored.

If you do go, don't miss Mama's Fish House in Paia... I hate fish and this was wonderful.

We are in the Dallas area. We planned according to the time change non-stop flights. We flew out around 10am and on the way home, we booked the last flight of the day which was around 10pm. We slept all the way home for the 5:30am arrival. We had a driver take us to/from the airport instead of parking like we normally do because we knew we'd be exhausted and didn't want to hit the DFW traffic jams while we were tired.

A HUGE plus if you can do it is to go First Class. We had enough points to upgrade both times. The first time was before 911 and it was fantastic, the last time was much calmer because it was after 911 and rules were much more strict. The food was great!

I am sure you'll have fun, whatever you choose.. My preference anyday would be Hawaii. I hate to come home when I am there!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

i would do hawaii, no question about it. cruise ships freak me out, being in a space with so many people knowing how dirty it is.

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answers from Seattle on

I honestly would never consider taking a cruise vacation with children. You are in cramped quarters with a bunch of strangers, the majority of which have the prime objective to eat as much food and drink as much booze as they can.
I have a few friends who worked on cruiseships for periods of time... the things that go on on the ships would churn your stomach - anything from 95% of the crew being anywhere from totally smashed to barely sober at all times, the amount of illegal drugs consumed by crew and guests, sex and the remnants thereof in public areas...
Then there are the hygienic issues... there is a reason why you regularly get Norovirus outbreaks on these ships: everything is filthy. It may not look filthy.
Given, some cruise lines are better at hiding the issues than others but they exist on every single cruise ship. Many people taking a cruise will never notice what is going on when and where they are not looking, but once you know it... there is no way of not noticing.

Good luck.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I've done both a cruise and Hawaii with kids and we've been to Atlantis as another poster suggested. I think it depends on your family and what they like to do. My husband hates cruises and loved Hawaii. I would probably lean towards Hawaii because of all of the negative incidents with cruise ships lately. With the exception of a Disney cruise. I would go on one of those in a heartbeat.

One of the things my husband hated about cruising is one of the things I liked--everything is contained. Pretty much everything you need is at your fingertips--food, pools, exercise facilities, childcare, kids clubs, night clubs.... My husband hated that confined and limited feeling. He was terrified the kids (8 and 5 at the time) were going to fall off the ship. We were on the QM2, 17 stories high and almost NO guard rails. Or at least not guard rails that would've prevented anyone from going overboard. He also refused to take Dramamine and got sea sick. We had rough water and a lot of people got sea sick. Anyone in your family prone to motion sickness?

We loved Hawaii (kids 9 and 12 for that trip). We went to Oahu and the Big Island. There's really a lot to do. People say Oahu is touristy, but we loved it. We went to Pearl Harbor and the kids did very well and remember it. We saw sea turtles in their natural habitat. We snorkeled. We hiked Diamond Head and my boys took surfing lessons in the calm waters off Waikiki. On the Big Island we saw an active volcano (from a distance), hiked over hardened lava and spent the night in a B&B in the heart of the rain forest. The downside, of course, is the long flight. We flew non-stop from Mpls. How do your kids travel? My boys actually handled the flights better than I did. The flight home was kind of a nightmare though. If you fly Delta I believe most, if not all, of the return flights are redeyes. On the way home we had two crying babies seated right next to us. Neither of our kids slept a wink. How well do your kids handle time changes? Hawaii has a pretty significant time change.

Atlantis is literally a kid's paradise, pun intended. PM me if you have specific questions.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I would pick the cruise in a heartbeat because in just a two hour flight I can be in Florida and then in less than an hour be on the cruise ship and the vacation starts. Hawaii is just way too far away. Have fun whatever you decide.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I don't like being "stuck" on a cruise and I've been on several. Never again.
Hawaii has so much to do esp on the island of Oahu. (zoo, movie nights,
things are close together, walking distance to a lot etc).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would do a Disney cruise and save Hawaii for when they're a little older

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answers from Columbia on

A friend of mine has a younger daughter. They just recently went on their second Disney cruise and have already booked their third. They love them.

I've not done either, so I'm afraid I don't know which is better, but I would choose a cruise with my family.

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answers from Sacramento on

If I recall correctly, there is a cruise line that cruises around the Hawaiian islands. I think you still have to get to Hawaii, but I'm not sure.

I've been to Hawaii and LOVE IT... can't wait to go back.
I've never been on a cruise, but hope to do so some day.

If you can find that cruise that cruises around the Hawaiian islands, you can do both!

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answers from Chattanooga on

I think it depends on the cruise.

If you do a Disney cruise, or some other one that specifically has features to cater to kids, I would pick the cruise.

Otherwise, Hawaii. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I have a 13 yr old and 9 yr old. We've been to Maui lots of times, including when they were younger. I don't believe you should save these trips when they are older.

I have never been on a cruise. I don't like the idea of being trapped on a ship.

We live in Southern California. We have not gone to Hawaii since Fukushima (earthquake 2011, nuclear plant starts leaking radioactive waste into the ocean).

We go to the Caribbean now. We had a great time in August at Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. We took the kids there when they were 5 and 9 and they kept asking to go back. The restaurants are pricey though. So if you go, try to find ways to save money.

If you go to Atlantis/Bahamas, I highly recommend taking a snorkeling boat trip: Stuart Cove. The snorkeling in the Bahamas was incredible and superior to Puerto Rico. (Maui snorkeling was never great.)

Kids 4 and up can snorkel. My husband doesn't like boats, so it was always me with 2 kids snorkeling.

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answers from Oklahoma City on


There are a ton more things on the ship for the kids to do. I wouldn't want to take the kids to Hawaii. What would they do all day? Play on the beach? That would get old with the kids very soon.

I think on a ship the kids cruise directors have the kids scheduled to do stuff every little bit. They can be doing fun stuff every minute they are awake.

The ports are also fun ones. IF you pick the right cruise.

The cruises "I" would like but the kids wouldn't:

I want to cruise the inside passage. I would love to stand or sit on the deck of the boat in a coat wrapped up to the top of my hat and watch for whales. I'd love to see an iceberg calving. I don't think the kids would enjoy standing still for hours at a time though. I also don't think they'd like going to all those small villages and exploring shops and native culture.

I want to cruise to the east coast of the US and Canada. I'd love to see the world of color during the season's change.

Kids cruises.

They would love to go on Disney ships. They have live stage shows, movies, pools for them to play in without fear of strangers having access, they have restaurants specifically designed for kids, and so much more.

Other cruise lines have other options for the kids. I want to say I ice skated on the ocean, on one cruise line I can say that after I'm back. They also have rock climbing walls where you can go so high you can see the whole ship.

There are so many more things on a cruise ship that is family oriented and fun than I can even begin to imagine on an island. Even if the kids were going to do all sorts of adventures. I think the cruise would be so much more.

But we don't do much beachy stuff and don't surf, hike to a volcano, para-sail, go out and see a sunken ship and learn about WWll.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

I think it depends on your kids. Will they do well confined to a boat for long stretches of time? Have they ever been on a boat?

I personally wouldn't take my younger two on a cruise, because their personalities make it too risky.
I have always wanted to go to Hawaii, and if I could afford it that's what I would do. My kids have gone to a beach w/ us 3 years in a row, and they love it.

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answers from New York on

I love to cruise (go on a big ship and you will NEVER be bored). The great thing about cruises are the camps. The kids will love them. Especially on Royal Caribbean.

My husband went to Hawaii before we met so he has no desire to go there again (seen it, done it). But we did go to Costa Rica - great spot if you have an active family.

Have fun wherever you go!

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answers from San Francisco on

There are pros and cons to both situations. My husband and I had the same debate a few months ago and decided to book a cruise.

When we go to Hawaii, we usually stay in a condo and not a hotel. It's easier to have our own kitchen so we don't have to eat every single meal at a restaurant (very expensive in Hawaii). But, then I find myself doing dishes all the time - my least favorite chore at home - so it doesn't feel quite as much like a vacation. I do absolutely love the beaches in Hawaii though and feel so relaxed whenever I'm there.

On a cruise, everything is included so you never have to think about where to eat, what to eat, or when to eat. You also have the awesome kids club, so your kids can go play there when you need a little time to truly relax.

You really can't go wrong with either one. I truly love both Hawaii and cruises. With two young kids, right now, a cruise is more relaxing for me than Hawaii.

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answers from Rochester on

Hawaii. We love Maui!! We have been there four times. Twice with kids. Maui is a little less crowded than other islands. I don't think we gave ever been on an extremely crowded beach. March is the end of whale season and whale watches with Pacific Whale Foundation are fabulous. There are great luaus, an aquarium, great snorkeling, surf lessons for kids, horse riding, and many other things to do.

Personally I think Hawaii would be more fun because you are free to explore and do what you want to do. I think I would start to feel closed in on a ship no matter how big it was.

Having said that, we do have some friends who did a Hawaiian cruise for their honeymoon. They saw all of the islands and had a great time. But, they said the next time they went back to Hawaii they would spend the entire time on Maui.

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answers from San Francisco on

If you weren't so far away I'd totally say Hawaii, but that's a LOT of travel time coming from MN.
We love Hawaii and have been several times, from the time our kids were babies through teenagers, and we always have an amazing time. But we're just a 5 hour flight away.
I haven't done a cruise (hubby has NO interest) but I know a lot of people love them.

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