If you’re a visitor to Oahu, you’ve undoubtedly spent some time on the beach, looking out at the ocean, with the sound of the lapping waves lulling you into a state of relaxed bliss.
But what about taking in the sights from another angle — out at sea, looking back at the twinkling lights of Waikiki at night? The “Star of Honolulu” will take you there in style.
The “Star of Honolulu” is an exceptionally smooth sailing vessel with plenty of room — it’s 232 feet long, 45 feet wide, has four decks, and a capacity of 1500 passengers. If you’re heading out for a dinner cruise, there are four different packages to choose from: the Pacific Star Sunset Buffet & Show, the Star Sunset Dinner & Show, the Three Star Dinner & Show, and the Five Star Dining & Jazz. There’s a choice for every taste — and budget.
The fun begins the moment you arrive dockside at the Aloha Tower Marketplace, Pier 8, where Hawaiian dancers wait to greet you and welcome you aboard. The Five Star Dining package bills itself as “the ultimate in luxury,” and certainly you are made to feel like a VIP as you’re escorted to the top deck for the Captain’s Reception, featuring not only a meet and greet with the Captain, but also an enticing assortment of canapés and a “welcome aboard” Bellini (one quibble: the Bellini and the later “champagne” toast held when the ship departs are non-alcoholic; surely a bonafide sparkling wine could be used).
The Five Star dining room has a classic art deco design, and the entertainment is mostly contemporary jazz, though on first arriving, a hula dancer was performing to the accompaniment of a ukulele player (if you’re looking for a more Hawaiian-themed evening, consider one of the other packages). A piano player took over as the courses were served: a delicious warm vichyssoise, a light salad (ogo and tomato lomi caprese with mozzarella and Waimanalo microgreens), Maine lobster (flown in daily), a sorbet “intermezzo,” and beef tenderloin with an accompanying potato “bone marrow” tower. It’s a wonderfully varied menu that will leave you satisfied, and is gracefully served by the attentive staff. The menu also changes throughout the year, and special menus of chicken, fish, or vegan offerings are available with 24 hours notice.
The Five Star package comes with three complimentary beverages, making it easy to enjoy different taste experiences throughout your meal; consider a cocktail, followed by a wine with the lobster or meat course, and a cognac for dessert. Dessert on this occasion was a tasty triple chocolate pavé and mint gelato. By then, a jazz trio was providing the perfect sophisticated touch to end the evening.
The cruise heads east toward Diamond Head, then swings back west to return to Aloha Tower Marketplace. The mood on the Five Star Dining deck is relaxed, and it’s easy to step out on deck between courses to take in the view; make sure that you do so, for there are plenty of excellent photo opportunities.
Is the Five Star package worth it? It’s the most expensive package, so it’s definitely indulgent. But it’s fun to indulge once in a while, and the more refined setting makes a nice change from the casual atmosphere you’ll find elsewhere on Oahu.
There are also special holiday cruises throughout the year, like Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and New Year’s Eve. Friday night cruises are extra special, as you’ll also get to see the fireworks display in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki. All packages offer at least one complimentary cocktail. Transportation from Waikiki, Kahala, and Ko Olina is also available for an extra fee.
A night out on the “Star of Honolulu” will certainly be fun; going Five Star will make it extra special.