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4 Maui Car Rental Options For Cruise Ship Passengers - With Insider Tips - June 2024

Attention, all cruise ship sailors and deckhands! We're bringing you the best Maui car rental options for cruise ship passengers on Norwegian Cruise Line Pride of America docking in Kahului Harbor, with pro tips on why rent a car, what car should you rent, where to rent a car from locations near the harbor, and how and when to make your reservation.

WHY RENT A CAR?

First, why rent a car when you disembark in Maui? For one thing, the area surrounding the Kahului harbor is a commercial district where you do not necessarily want to spend all your time in Maui. Guided tours and excursions may be available right from the cruise ship, but these cost a hefty premium, and honestly, wouldn't you rather explore on your own. Plus there may be some special places that you want to get to that are just not accessible otherwise.

WHAT CAR SHOULD YOUR RENT?

Secondly, what car should your rent? Jeeps and convertibles are a great way to enjoy Maui's beautiful climate and scenery topless, and are highly recommended, but the rates for these vehicles tend to be higher than others. Minivans or even larger 12-passenger vans are available for families or groups of buddies who want to stick together. For the budget-minded, there is the option of compact and mid-size cars that get you from point A to point B without costing you an arm and a leg. See our comparison of the available options in a related blog post on the available options for Maui rental cars .

WHERE AND HOW TO RENT A CAR?

Finally, where and how do you even find a car to rent in Maui, if you are arriving on a cruise ship? Maui's car rental market has some peculiarities as a result of it being an island out in the middle of the planet's largest ocean, combined with its popularity as a vacation travel destination, and the space and cost constraints that limit the availability of rental cars. These are our pro-tips for eliminating any frustration or disappointment - aka hassle factor - in dealing with this situation.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RENT A CAR FOR THE DAY

Rates for Maui car rental are seasonal, meaning they vary by the time of year, and of course they vary depending on the type of vehicle being rented. Recently, we've booked same-day rentals for an economy car for $38 total for the day, and a 7-passenger SUV for $55. These rates are for illustration only, and not guarantees of pricing and availability. Same-day rentals can benefit from last-minute discounts that car rental companies offer on their excess inventory in the off-season. On the other hand, if the date falls within a high season or holiday period, the rate can climb up significantly - if there is any availability at all. When it comes to renting a car in Maui, the rate you pay is a crap-shoot, like rolling the dice.

MAUI RENTACARS WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF KAHULUI HARBOR

There are three Maui car rental locations that qualify as within walking distance of the Maui Kahului Harbor. Here they are listed in order of proximity, with pros and cons (and some pro tips) for each:

1. Enterprise Rentacar: Address: 40 Hana Hwy, Kahului, HI 96732 Distance from port: 0.5 mile, 10 minutes on foot. Pros and Cons: The nearest Maui rentacar location to the harbor, just 10 minutes away on foot. This location may have limited hours of operation on weekends. Until recently, they used to be closed on Saturday and Sundays, and have recently changed to closed on Saturday but open 8am to 1pm on Sunday. Check their hours of operation as they may change. Also, this is a satellite location, that may have limited availability and fewer vehicle options to choose from. Book in advance to secure a rental from this location. On the plus side, this location in general has lower off-airport rates than locations at the airport, for a similar car. This location is available to book through our website.

2. Thrifty Car Rental: Address: 170 W. Kaahumanu Avenue, Kahului, HI 96732 Distance from port: 0.8 miles, 18 minutes on foot. Pros and Cons: This is also a satellite location (the main Thrifty location is at the airport), so it may have unfavorable pricing and availability. Secure your car in advance. On the plus side, this location, situated at the Maui Seaside Hotel, may be the only one in our survey to offer overnight parking for rental customers (not free, unfortunately). Otherwise, overnight parking for rental vehicles can be a problem (more about this below). You'll have to inquire about the terms and conditions of parking when you make your reservation - but keep in mind they may change at any time. This location is available to book through our website.

3. Ace Rentacar: Address: 445 Kele Street, Kahului HI 96732 Distance from port: 1.2 miles, 27 minutes on foot. Pros and Cons: This is stretching it as far as walking distance for most people. An alternative would be an Uber ride from the port, just $8 dollars or so off-peak. On the plus side, this is the principal location for Ace in Kahului, so booking a car with them should be straightforward compared to booking from the satellite locations of other companies. Also consider that Ace tends to be a discount provider with cheaper rates than many of the alternatives. Habitually they are one of the lowest price options in our weekly rate survey. This location is available to book through our website.

4. Maui's Kahului Airport (OGG) Rentacar Center Address: 101 Airport Rd, Kahului HI 96732 Distance from port: 2.5 miles, 55 minutes on foot. Pros and Cons: Realistically this location is outside of walking distance, but it is the most convenient location in terms of the widest range of favorable availability and pricing options, being home to Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Payless, and Thrifty, all of which you can book through our website. The Uber ride from the harbor should be about $12-$15. These airport locations give you the most flexibility for vehicle selection and availability. But they also tack on additional airport taxes and fees (see our related blog post), and, shamelessly, they also tack on a hefty convenience premium for airport travelers - in other words the base rate for the same car is higher when you rent it at the airport than an off-airport location of the same company (see our related blog post for this topic). So, try the off-airport listed above first, before you resort to this one.

To get the full run-down, including customer ratings and insider info, on all the partner companies that we offer through our website, see the related blog post on the list of Maui car rental companies that you can book through our website.  

WHAT ABOUT OTHER MAUI CAR RENTAL COMPANIES NEAR THE HARBOR

We won't make it a secret that there are other car rental companies near the harbor. They are not named in this article. Some are top-tier companies that are not part of our partner agreement. Others are locally operated companies that may offer a good-enough experience, but as direct competitors, we choose not to include them here. Really, since when are we supposed to offer free promotion for our competitors. Get real. We group all these options in the category of "they who shall not be named."

WHAT ABOUT SHUTTLE SERVICE FOR CRUISE SHIP CUSTOMERS

Shuttle service from rental car companies to the harbor was discontinued years ago and is not expected to resume any time soon. Attribute this to another aspect of "shrink-flation" where companies shrink the unprofitable freebies so they can manage their costs.

WHAT ABOUT OVERNIGHT PARKING FOR CRUISE SHIP CUSTOMERS

Overnight parking at Kahului harbor for cruise ship passenger vehicles was also eliminated a few years ago - the space was taken over for cargo shipping company logistics. A substitute space is not expected to be provided any time soon. You may be thinking "then why not park in one of the commercial areas within walking distance of the harbor?" In one word, "foggedaboutit. Capische?" Downtown Kahului is afflicted with urban blight, just like other cities everywhere. Any number of bad things can happen to a car left unattended overnight in a commercial property (shopping mall, restaurant, et cetera) parking lot near the harbor - and these bad things do happen with alarming frequency. The most likely thing is that someone will either puncture the gas tank or cut a fuel line to drain out the fuel and steal it. This is more likely to occur on high ground clearance vehicles like trucks or SUV's. Another possibility is a break-in, on the chance of any valuables being in the car to be stolen. But why just steal the fuel or the car's contents? Maui has gangs of sophisticated car theft criminals who possess the knowledge and the tools to steal almost any car of any make and model - and they can pull this off within minutes in broad daylight. Let's just say that our island paradise has been paved over, to put in parking lots that are scenes of festering crime.

For secure overnight parking, there are two options: one, mentioned previously, is the Maui Seaside/Maui Beach hotel. Availability and cost of parking are subject to change at any time, but most recently it was offered at $25 for overnight. The second option is Kahului Airport (OGG) public parking, adjacent to the airport rentacar facility. Cost for overnight parking there is $24 as of Feb. 1, 2024.

WHEN TO BOOK YOUR MAUI CAR RENTAL FOR YOUR CRUISE SHIP ADVENTURE

People always ask how far in advance should they book their Maui car rental reservation. The answer: "It's complicated. " If you are traveling to Maui during a peak period, or a high season period, rates are likely to climb as the date draws closer and rental car companies availability drops lower and lower as more and more people make reservations. But if you're traveling during low season, then the lower you get to the date, the rate drops lower and lower as the rental car companies drop prices to out-compete each other for last minute bookings.

BOOK IN ADVANCE THEN RE-BOOK AT A LOWER PRICE - WITH NO PENALTY!

Our booking policies give you the best of both worlds: you can book in advance in order to secure a rental, then, if the rate goes lower, you can rebook it at the lower price. There is not cancellation penalty and you never pay a penny until you pick up the car. Just be sure to book it through our rental app at rentals.mauicarrental.biz. That way you are secure in the knowledge that you won't be left high and dry if the cost skyrockets, like if does sometimes, and you also know that you won't be overpaying for your rental if the cost goes down at the last minute, which is what it does 80% of the time.

CAN YOU JUST CALL AND RESERVE A CAR AND PICK IT UP THE SAME DAY?

This might work in some situations, like if nobody else is renting a car that day, but with thousands of passengers disembarking from your ship, chances are the rentacars within walking distance will be fully booked with no cars available, because, as we said, they are smaller satellite locations with a limited number of cars available at any time. So you will have to trek just a little bit further - like to the airport - for your car. If you're looking for a car to pick up right away, call us and let our fingers do the walking for you, we will check all available locations and give you the nearest one.

WHY RENT FROM US? BECAUSE WE'RE AWESOME!

We've been in business renting cars in Maui since 2006. We're the only car rental company in Maui that can bring you the best of both worlds: used cars from our local car rental fleet (unfortunately these are not available for cruise ship rentals), or new cars from our top-tier name brand rental partners - that include the brands and locations listed in this article - with special discounts and terms not available anywhere else. For the best deals, best vehicle selection, best customer service, be sure to book with our app at rentals.mauicarrental.biz, or call us a 808-280-1196 and we will do all the heavy lifting for you. 

GOT YOUR DUCKS IN A ROW?

While it might seem like a lot of trouble, renting a car on your cruise ship excursion can really be worth it in giving you the freedom and flexibility to check out a side of Maui that you would probably not see otherwise. In a future installment of this blog, we will give you some suggestions on things to do on day trips, that are practical only with a rental car.

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