Q. My family (group of 11) and I would like to take a Hawaiian cruise for 7 days in early December 2015.  We are interested in the cruise because it is all-inclusive (meals, room and activities, etc).  I could not find an all-inclusive resort on the island. Now, as we prepare for the trip, we cannot seem to find any affordable flights from the east coast to Hawaii. They are so expensive. How do I find affordable airline tickets for my family? When should I purchase the tickets? Do you think the cruise is cost effective? Please help! We really would like to travel to Hawaii!

A. Well the good news is that you're planning your trip for early December, which is one of the cheapest times to fly in general (before December 14 or so).  It also means that you have plenty of time to search for a fare. Fares from major hub airports (such as New York JFK, Newark, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Washington) to Hawaii go on sale at least a couple of times a year. The best sales will be fare war, unadvertised sales that may only last a few hours or no more than a day, so when you see a fare drop of $300 or so you should grab seats immediately.

Sign up for free, emailed airfare alerts from third-party sites like, of course, Airfarewatchdog.com but also Kayak.com and other sites.

Since you have a large group, you may also qualify for a group rate from the airlines. Call the airlines' group travel desks to find out what they can do for you

As for cruising the Hawaiian Islands, yes that is a great way to go since you don't have to pay for inter-island flights and your meals and lodging are taken care of.

Norwegian Cruise Lines has a 7-day sailing round-trip from Honolulu December 6-13 for $1399 per person in an inside cabin. They also offer cruise plus air packages from the East Coast, so check with them or your travel agent to see if air plus cruise would save you money. You might also be able to get a group rate on your cruise.

Above image via Shutterstock

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