Issue 6.1: February/March 2003

Ship's Log


by Catharine Lo


Though the Matson Navigation Company’s Hawaii ties reach back some 120 years as a cargo service, for nostalgia buffs the company name will forever be linked to a thirty-year period during which it put a bright shine on the Islands’ gilded age of tourism.

From the 1930s through the ’60s, Matson passenger liners carried travelers from the West Coast to Hawaii, with the promise of luxury at sea and paradise on land. In To Honolulu in Five Days (Ten Speed Press), authors Lynn and Nick Krantz and Mary Thiele Fobian jump back aboard the storied Matson liner Lurline, joining the happy passengers and celebrities who cruised across the Pacific in the extravagant tradition that has come to be recognized as "The Grand Manner of Matson."

Retracing a typical voyage to Honolulu, the authors follow as passengers disembark and head to Waikiki, where they relax at the exquisite hotels that Matson built—the Royal Hawaiian, the Moana, the Surfrider and the Princess Kaiulani—before returning on-board for five more days of waterborne wining and dining.


The classic Matson brochures and advertisements showcased in the book depict the tourist’s dream of Hawaii as romantically as Norman Rockwell painted Everyman’s America. Meanwhile, this polished scrapbook of vintage photos and memorabilia—menu covers, passenger lists, postcards and recipes among them—is embellished throughout with Eugene Savage’s famous murals of idealized Hawaiian ceremonial pageantry. The net result is proof positive that a journey on the Lurline was, indeed, every bit as memorable as the ship’s final destination.