Pacific Cruises – For those looking to venture a bit further from home there is a whole ocean of destinations to explore. That’s the largest body of water on the planet, The Pacific Ocean. Most Pacific cruisers start with a cruise to Alaska but that is just the beginning.
Looking south from Canada consider shorter Pacific itineraries by looking into a number of cruises based out of California and Vancouver, Canada. These come labeled in a number of categories suggesting a number of itineraries, but most are focused on the U.S. west coast. Many start in Vancouver because of the Jones Act* and often end in San Diego usually with Seattle, Monterey, San Fransisco, Catalina Island being popular ports of call. After those options California also features a number of shorter cruises to Mexico that begin in a number of California ports and usually visit Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco and Porta Vallarta. These cruises range from a couple of days to a week.
One of the more popular series of itineraries involves cruising to and around the Hawaiian Islands. The cruise companies, again because of the Jones Act*, have to do some interesting planning to cruise Hawaii. Often cruises that sail from the West Coast and end in Hawaii sail from Vancouver and often spend six to eight days at sea crossing the Pacific and will visit one or two ports in Hawaii before ending in Honolulu. There are also a number of cruises that sail around the islands with a majority sailing and ending in Honolulu and can include two to four Hawaiian ports. One cruise line, NCL operates an American flagged cruise ship, The Pride Of America which allows it to cruise freely around the islands without always returning to its departure port.
Twice each year most major cruise companies reposition cruise ships between the North and South hemispheres offering a number of opportunities to cruise the Pacific Ocean. Many ships in the Fall are moving from Alaska to Australia and than back again in the Spring. The Hawaiian Islands are a usual destination in these repositioning moves with popular cruise itineraries being Sydney to Honolulu or Vancouver to Honolulu. Ports of call in these cruises can include Tahiti and the other Society Islands, Fiji, New Zealand and various ports in Australia. The southern half of these itineraries also cross the Equator making you an official Shellback including a very tame initiation.
There are also northern Pacific repositioning cruises that usually sail between Japan and North America’s west coast that at time include a stop in Russia’s Vladivostok. These cruises follow the same schedule moving in the Fall from Alaska to Japan and than back again in the Spring.
The west coast of South America is another Pacific cruising opportunity but with the most common itineraries being sailing from the east coast to the west coast and back again around the tip of South America. The primary West coast ports include Lima, Peru (consider a land tour to Machu Picchu as part of your itinerary) and Valparaíso, Chile.
Another opportunity to consider are South American repositioning cruises that can include a Panama Canal transit as the ships head to the Caribbean ports in Florida, New Orleans and Texas.
A cruise that is on many people’s wish list is the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. Because of restrictions to protect the Galapagos, large cruise ships cannot visit these islands but many cruise lines operate specially built smaller ships dedicated to seeing the Galapagos. In order to take a Galapagos cruise you will need to first fly from Quito, Ecuador over to the Galapagos Islands to join your cruise In addition to the major cruise companies there are a number of additional Galapagos tour options).
Don’t be surprised if more cruise ports are added in the future as the cruise lines are always looking to entice passengers to cruise again.
*The Jones Act is a hundred year old law that prohibits moving cargo and passengers between U.S. ports unless the ship meets a number of requirements. See our article on The Jones Act.