Embarkation in Honolulu Cruise Port

December 7, 2016
View of downtown Honolulu, Oahu from the deck of a cruise ship as it heads out to sea

Honolulu Cruise Terminal Addresses

Port of Honolulu -- Pier 2
521 Ala Moana Blvd
Honolulu, HI 96813
909-587-1928 (Hawaii Department of Transportation)

Aloha Tower Cruise Terminal -- Pier 11
Aloha Tower Marketplace
1 Aloha Tower Drive
Honolulu, HI 96813
808-528-5700

Honolulu has two cruise terminals, but most ships dock at Port of Honolulu (Pier 2), a 20-minute taxi ride from Honolulu International Airport. Thanks to Hawaii's unfailingly pleasant temperatures, the cruise season is year-round. Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America, one of the only U.S.-flagged ships to travel the Hawaiian Islands, uses the port most often. Other ships that frequent Honolulu cruise ports include Sun Princess, Celebrity Solstice, Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas and Carnival Legend.

Honolulu's downtown district is less than a half-mile from the Aloha Tower Cruise Terminal (Pier 11) and about 0.7 miles away from Pier 2. This means travelers can pick up last-minute items (sunscreen, sunglasses, aloe, beach towels) at a number of ABC Stores within walking distance. If you are looking for more involved shopping options, try the Ala Moana Shopping Center, 2 miles from Pier 2 (1450 Ala Moana Blvd.) or the Aloha Tower Marketplace, right at Pier 11 (1 Aloha Tower Drive).

Don't miss a stroll around Honolulu's downtown. This up-and-coming area has several notable independent shops and restaurants, perfect for cruise-goers who are looking for a bite to eat. Tasty options include HASR Bistro (31 N. Pauahi Street), Lucky Belly (50 N. Hotel Street) and The Pig and the Lady (83 N. King Street).

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Directions to Honolulu Cruise Terminal

It is possible to get to Honolulu's cruise terminal by private car, Uber/Lyft, bus or taxi.

From the North Shore

Both cruise ports are 40 minutes from the island's popular North Shore. Head southeast on HI-99 South. Merge onto I-H-2 South for 8 miles, then I-H-1 East for 9 miles. Take HI-92 East until you get to either port.

From the Airport

Both of Honolulu's cruise ports are about 6 miles from Honolulu International Airport and, without traffic, will take you about 20 minutes (budget 40 minutes with traffic or during peak times). From the airport, go north on Rogers Boulevard toward N. Nimitz Highway. Make a right on Highway 92 and take that for 5 miles. The highway will become Ala Moana Boulevard. Turn right on Channel Street and you will see the cruise terminal on your right side.

Private Car

Honolulu has a host of private car companies that can shuttle cruise passengers before and after they sail. A few include Roberts Hawaii Private Car Services (888-472-4729), Elite Town Car Service (808-365-7188) and AM Tours Hawaii (808-845-5050). Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft are also available in Honolulu.

Bus

TheBus is Honolulu's public transit option from the airport to the cruise terminal. The ride will take you about 40 minutes and the bus runs between 5:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. The one-way fare is $2.50 for adults and $1 for seniors. For more information, call 808-848-5555.

Taxi

Taking a tax is arguably the most hassle-free way to travel to the cruise port from the airport. Rides will take roughly 20 to 40 minutes and will cost you around $30.

Rental Cars Near Honolulu Cruise Port

Cruise passengers can rent a car before or after their cruise without having to go to the airport. A few nearby car rental locations include Enterprise Rent-A-Car (677 Ala Moana Blvd.) and Hertz Rent A Car (1525 Rycroft Street). There are even more options near Waikiki Beach (a few miles from the cruise port) and most of those locations will offer shuttles to cruise ports.

Parking

Public parking is available about 0.7 miles away from the cruise port at Harbor Court, located at 847 Bethel Street (808-522-1240). If you park here, you will want to take a taxi to the port, especially if you are carrying heavy luggage. This is a covered parking lot that allows overnight parking for $21 per day.

Instead of parking, it is advisable to take a taxi from the airport or other location on Oahu to avoid parking fees.

Porters/Red Caps

Cruise passengers can find porters at Honolulu's cruise terminals -- they wear Aloha shirts and work for tips.

What Time to Arrive/Embarkation

It is best to arrive at least two hours before the ship's departure time. Check your cruise documents/ticket/eDocs for a time specific to your party, and arrive as close to that time as possible. You don't want to arrive too early as some security regulations can prohibit early entrance to the ship.

Honolulu's cruise ports have limited space. None of the terminals have designated space for different entrances based on cabin categories; everyone should go through the port's main entrance to check-in.

Norwegian's Pride of America doesn't leave Hawaii, so passports are not necessary (although a driver's license and other forms of identification are required). Check with your cruise line if your ship is going to another country (i.e. Canada).

Wheelchair Service

Honolulu's cruise ports do not offer wheelchair services. Bring your own or enlist help from one of the following rental companies: CareVacations, U-Go Mobility and Special Needs Group/Special Needs At Sea.

Where to Grab a Bite or Last-Minute Essentials in Honolulu

While Pier 11 is next to the Aloha Marketplace, Pier 2 (the more common port for Hawaiian cruises) is a bit of a walk (0.7 miles) from shops and restaurants in Downtown Honolulu. For this reason, it is best to load up on any last-minute essentials before you get to the cruise port.

In Downtown Honolulu you can find multiple ABC Stores; the Fighting Eel, an independent boutique (1133 Bethel Street); and eateries like Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop, great for breakfast (1030 Smith Street) and Arvo Cafe, a fun place for coffee and small bites (675 Auahi Street).

Bathrooms

Restrooms are plentiful at both of Honolulu's ports, and can be found before security and after security.

Wi-Fi

Neither of Honolulu's cruise ports has Wi-Fi, but you can find connectivity at the Aloha Marketplace (close to Pier 11).

Where to Store Luggage

Cruise lines partner with a variety of Honolulu hotels to pick up luggage in advance of embarkation. Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, partners with the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa and the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. Guests at both properties can ask onsite porters to take luggage the morning of the cruise and it will be transported to their individual cruise cabins upon boarding.

Luggage storage is available at both ports. Cruise passengers can store their bags in the port buildings during the morning of their cruise, up until the end of the passenger check-in period.

Where to Sit

There is room to sit in both ports. At Pier 2, the most commonly used port, passengers will find limited seating before check-in, but once they go past security, the building is large and ample seating is available. Cruisers are also likely to be greeted by cruise workers with shell necklaces (for the men) and Hawaiian leis (for the women). Hawaiian dancers might also be performing in this large open space.

More Tips About the Honolulu Cruise Terminal

It is important to be aware of Honolulu's traffic when coming to the cruise port. With an influx of travelers and new residents, Honolulu has been experiencing higher-than-normal traffic congestion. Make sure to give yourself ample time and plan accordingly.

While you will find parking nearby, prices are steep, so it is best to take a taxi (turn in your rental care beforehand; locals keep your vehicle at home) to the port to avoid high fees upon your return. If you are staying in Honolulu after the cruise, you can always get a taxi back to the rental car center.

--By Katie Morell, Cruise Critic contributor

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