When looking at itineraries for cruises from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii, many ask “Why does my Hawaiian cruise stop in Mexico?” This is because of an 1886 law that dictates that only American-flagged ships can sail between U.S. ports without a stop in another country. For cruises going from California to Hawaii, the port of Ensenada, just across the Mexican border from San Diego, is a necessary and convenient stop.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises has three round-trip sailings to Hawaii from California. The Star Princess departs from Los Angeles and stops in several Hawaiian ports as well as in Ensenada. The Grand Princess does a similar journey out of San Francisco. The ships visit the Big Island, Oahu, Kauai and Maui, allowing passengers to get a taste of each to figure out which islands they may want to return to on a future vacation. Princess Cruises has an Aloha Spirit program to learn more about Hawaiian culture and traditions, and hosts a King Kamehameha Festival. Both of these voyages include several days at sea when you'll enjoy Princess’ shipboard amenities and activities. There are kids clubs and an adults-only escape to The Sanctuary. Princess Cruises has partnered with Chef Curtis Stone, Los Angeles’ 2016 Chef of the Year, and each ship offers a wide variety of dining options.

Princess offers a longer adventure departing from Los Angeles aboard the Emerald Princess for a 28-day cruise. This spectacular itinerary has four stops in Hawaii before continuing on to American Samoa, Western Samoa and three islands in French Polynesia before returning home to Los Angeles. Because of the stops in French Polynesia, this cruise does not visit Ensenada.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival launches a 14-day cruise from California to Hawaii aboard the Carnival Splendor in 2018. The round-trip cruise departs from Long Beach and stops at Maui, Honolulu and twice on the Big Island in Kona and in Hilo. The last stop before returning to California is at Ensenada. The Carnival Miracle also sails from Long Beach to Hawaii; its 15-day voyage stops in Maui, Honolulu, Kauai, Kona, Hilo and Ensenada.

The cruise line's Carnival Journeys program provides guests with a vacation experience unique to their destination. Carnival’s Hawaiian itineraries are part of this program, so passengers enjoy Hawaiian foods and learn about Hawaiian culture. The Carnival Journeys program also provides educational opportunities at the Academy of Fun to learn about celestial navigation and photography.

Crystal Cruises

The first segment of a World Cruise aboard luxury line Crystal Cruises departs from San Pedro in Los Angeles and stops in Lahaina, Maui, and in Honolulu. Ships spend a full day in each Hawaiian port with late evening departures, so you'll enjoy the nightlife as well as the Hawaiian sunshine. The first segment of one cruise ends in Sydney, Australia, and another itinerary takes you to Auckland, New Zealand. Both cruises stop at several South Pacific Islands, including Samoa and Fiji, after departing Hawaii.

If you have lots of time on your hands, the full World Cruise continues on after stops in Sydney or Auckland. The 112-day World Wonders & Eternal Cities cruise stops in Papua New Guinea and several Asian and Middle Eastern countries before ending in Rome. The shorter Grand Continental Odysseys World Cruise is 85 days long. After departing Auckland, it goes to Australia, crosses the Indian Ocean to Madagascar, and then cruises up the western side of Africa to end in Montecarlo.

Holland America Line

Several Holland America ships sail between California and Hawaii. The Amsterdam departs from Los Angeles, and the Oosterdam, Maasdam, Eurodam and Westerdam depart from San Diego. The Circle Hawaii cruise is round-trip from San Diego aboard the Oosterdam. The 18-day itinerary stops in Hilo, Lahaina, Honolulu, Kona and Nawiliwili on the island of Kauai, and also cruises around the Kilauea Volcano. It makes a quick stop in Ensenada on the last night of the cruise. If you have more time, take a 25-day cruise from San Diego to Hawaii. Before visiting the same ports as the Circle Hawaii cruise, the Oosterdam tours the Mexican Riviera with stops in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas offers an all-inclusive experience, including business-class flights, unlimited shore excursions, unlimited Wi-Fi, and premium beverages. The line's luxurious ships have no more than 375 cabins, all of which are suites, and the staff-to-guest ratio is 1 to 1.5 – one of the best in the industry. Regent’s Leis and Luaus cruise is an 18-night journey aboard the Seven Seas Navigator, round-trip from Los Angeles. The ship spends a day in Ensenada before crossing the Pacific to Hawaii and visits Hilo, Kahului, Honolulu and Nawiliwili.