TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE
3 Best Oahu Dinner Cruises Compared
Ryan, Senior Traveler
Updated Feb 2019
Are you looking for great food, delicious drinks, and a night of fun with views that are to die for?
If so, then an Oahu dinner cruise is just what you’ve been looking for!
With options for couples, families, and friends, Oahu has something for everyone. It is fabulous to know you can still pack up and bolt off to a tranquil retreat away from the workplace and home.
And there’s few places that can top Oahu, Hawaii. With a beautiful landscape, culture, and cuisine, Oahu is the perfect destination to enjoy a dinner cruise.
The best cruises let you discover exotic food and drink, indulge your mind in stimulating live shows, and show your significant other to a fabulous night overlooking the water.
After doing extensive research, taking a look at customer reviews, and analyzing what every tour had to offer, we came up with a list of the 3 best dinner cruises on all of Oahu. They are:
- Star Sunset Dinner Cruise and Show
- Island Style Buffet Cruise
- Honolulu City Lights Sunset Dinner Cruise
Below we’ll do a full comparison of each cruise, giving you all the information you’ll need to make the best decision.
- Routes and Cruise Overview
- Food Servings
- Value for Time and Money
Without further ado, let’s compare the top dinner cruises on Oahu waters right now.
Star Sunset Dinner & Show
- 60 Years of Aloha® Show
- 3 Star or 5 Star Upgrade
- 2 Hour Tour
- Child (3-11 yrs) $63; Infants (0 - 2) Free
- Tenderloin Steak and All-You-Can-Eat Crab
- 1 Free Mai Tai
- Transportation from Waikiki, Kahala, Koolina
Island Style Buffet Cruise
- Fridays Firework Cruise
- $20 Crab Leg Upgrade
- 2 Hour Tour
- Child (7-12 yrs) $62; Kids Free (6 yrs & under)
- Island Style Buffet
- 1 Free Drink
- Free Transportation from Waikiki
Honolulu City Lights Sunset Dinner Cruise
- Catamaran Tour
- No Upgrades Available
- 2 Hour Tour
- Child - $85; Senior - $95; Infants - Free
- Island Style Buffet
- 1 Free Drink
- Free Transportation from Waikiki
1. Routes and Cruise Overview
First up is the Star Sunset Dinner Cruise and Show. If you are not a big boat fan, you might still relish the Star of Honolulu, the charming cruise ship you’ll head out to sea on for the dinner and show on this cruise. It is a magnificent 232-foot, 1500-passenger floating island—the largest cruising the Island waters.
When you finally board the Star of Honolulu, you’ll be spoiled with a 2 hour cruise that embraces the ocean with views of Diamond Head and beyond. This daily cruise has departure at 5:30 pm and return at 7:30 pm. Friday night cruises last an hour longer to enjoy the Fireworks with return around 8:30 pm.
If it’s your first time sailing out to sea, you’ll have confidence in knowing the ship has three types of stabilizers and is A.D.A certified to operate on the route.
That means no matter what weather conditions you come across, you can rest assured of you and your loved one’s safety. Make sure to bring a light jacket though because those nights can get a bit chilly!
But when the skies are clear and the sun is dancing, the Star of Honolulu has 4 voluminous decks to help you indulge in sunbathing and the best views possible. All decks are flanked by a number of bars and 6 delightful dining rooms.
There are private lounges on deck, too. So expect a relaxing time, where you can pamper and cuddle, make memories, and shun all worries for the moment.
And if you’d like to take some amazing photos, Just take one of the 2 elevators to their 60-foot deck up front. It offers the best spot to bathe in refreshing sun rays as you unwind, coupled with the best panoramic views of the sparkling sea.
Want to get picked up? If you’re staying at a hotel located in Waikiki, they offer free pick-up if you notify them at least 24 hours in advance. They have a pick-up schedule that covers 15 pick-up spots throughout Waikiki (be sure to check with them to locate the exact place they can pick you up).
“An Oahu dinner cruise is the perfect way to experience the beauty of Oahu combined with a night of entertainment”
Next up, we’ll take a look at the route and overview of the Island Style Buffet Cruise. If you are looking for more than a sea ride, then this cruise might be the one for you for a couple of reasons.
Their vessel, Majestic, is smaller than the Star of Honolulu but offers spectacular views from the indoor dining and entertainment areas. So, if you prefer an indoor experience—indulging in live entertainment, delicious food, and exotic wines—or are celebrating a fête in your life, the Majestic is a great place to do it. It has three decks, and all of them come with drink and chit chat spots, making it an ideal Oahu tour for smaller groups or couples.
Once you board the Majestic, you’ll get settled and set sail for the evening at 5:30pm. Over the next two hours, you’ll grace the Waikiki coastline, taking in the scenic palm botanicals and winding your way across the enduring presence of Diamond Head.
It feels almost magical. It is truly special if you can share the experience with someone else—a friend or a spouse. The glorious sunsets and picturesque views of Waikiki and Honolulu’s skyline, especially at dusk, make for a good time to be at sea.
Last but certainly not least, let’s take a look at where you’ll be headed on the Honolulu City Lights Sunset Dinner Cruise. When you need to feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your skin and your gaze on the azure Pacific water, you might want to consider the Sunset Dinner Cruise. It kicks off at 5:30 pm and goes until 7:30 pm almost every day.
One great thing about this cruise is the complimentary transportation from select hotels in Waikiki. So, if you have a few too many cocktails, you’ll be in good hands (check beforehand to see if your hotel is included).
With this cruise, you get volumes of open space to enjoy the Hawaiian sun, gorgeous views of Waikiki’s coastline, Honolulu’s skyline and lights, as well as the stunning Oahu sunset. The sun sets at about 7:30 pm around mid-year, so make sure to get a comfortable seat or soak it in on the trampoline nets out back.
Alternatively, you can roam around the Makani Catamaran’s deck. From there you’ll be able to take in the expansive scenery of Koko Head, Diamond Head and Koko Crater. As with the other cruises, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to snap some picturesque photos, so don’t forget your camera.
Overall, the Honolulu City Lights Sunset Cruise is a great option if you’re the type that likes to bring the party, or spend some alone time with a loved one.
When we look at the entertainment value of each cruise, all three offer lively activity and room to enjoy your friends’ company. But, there’s also private lounges if you prefer a more private experience with a loved one, close friends, business partners or colleagues.
Another feature that all three cruises offer is a special Friday night sunset plus Fireworks tour. It is a Friday-night-only festivity, so if you want to add a little bit more to your experience, make sure to book it then. The fireworks light the sky courtesy of Waikiki’s Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Whatever occasion you’d like to celebrate, all three allow guests to indulge in a little partying. So, if you’re thinking birthday parties, weddings, promotion celebration, or what have you, they allow it.
To mix it all in, all dinner cruises offer a full bar selection of drinks. You can get yours from any of the bars lined up on the decks.
Thanks to its spectacular size, the Star of Honolulu cruise ship obviously tops out as the cruise with the most bang for your buck, for anyone wanting to enjoy a wide range of cruising delights. Their Friday fireworks and sunset dinner cruises extend an extra hour, plus you can catch all the firework action from the deck for an extra $10.
The Star Sunset Dinner Cruise has a classic show currently showing. They call it 60 Years of Aloha. Essentially, it is a story about a young couple who continue to embark on their long (and seemingly illustrious) journey together through the deep blue Pacific.It is a colorful spectacle, the largest and most elaborate of the three cruises reviewed. Along with that, they also have a fun welcome ceremony they call the Welcome Hula on the pier-side of the ship.
The Island Style Buffet Cruise and Honolulu City Lights Sunset Dinner Cruise also have a variety of live shows, entertaining audience participation, live Hawaiian music, and a number of other live shows that go on until sundown. Check out their cruise cards to find out what they have lined up for you. Or, maybe you’ll let them surprise you!
Also, since all three cruise options operate around the same route, all of them offer Turtle sightings and a chance to cruise alongside dolphins.
Also, if you’re lucky and go during the right time, you’ll have the opportunity to see herds of Humpback whales. They swim into the warm waters of Hawaii from chilly Alaska to breed and calve. This is a seasonal festivity, but you can arrange to catch it between mid-December to around mid-April.
3. Food and Beverages Available on the Oahu Dinner Cruises
It is not a dinner cruise without the food now is it? Rest assured there is a lot going on for foodies and everyone who loves a good drink or two.
You’ll encounter a rich mixture of island cuisine (delicious and nutritious seafood and Hawaiian drinks) on all the cruises. That includes hot and cold selections as well as both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to choose from.
Interestingly, though, they also allow you to come with your own drink and some food on the Catamaran (Honolulu City Lights Sunset Dinner Cruise), provided you clean up after yourself. This is a little known fact since they don’t publicly advertise it. However, the menu has a number of gluten-free and vegetarian plates aboard, too. If you’re looking for a truly delicious meal, we must say the Island Style Buffet Cruise’s menu is by far the richest and yummiest of the trio—with options like Garlic Shiitake Teriyaki Chicken, the Pacific Catch of the Day, and a unique Chef’s Selection for dessert, this buffet just can’t be beat. On top of that, they also include one complimentary drink.
But, if you love yourself some crispy crabs and juicy beef, the Star Sunset Dinner Cruise and Show has a whole serving of those. They’ve christened it the “all-you-can-eat-crab and tenderloin of beef” dinner.
We do advise that you find yourself a good seat that is not too far off from the main dining areas. Although there is plenty of crab to go around, if you love crab like I do you’ll want to sit close so you can enjoy all-you-can-eat crab.
The great thing about all three is that there is so much to choose from with each Oahu dinner operator, and you’ll find you need a couple minutes just to decide on what you want to have.
One thing is for sure though, the Mai Tai is one popular drink around these shores, so expect it on all three dinner cruises.
About their Cancellation Policies
Looking at the three cruises, they all have similar cancellation requirements that they’ll let you know up front. If for any reason they cancel your cruise, they expressly state that they can (and will) refund your money 100%. But, if you have to cancel your trip, you have to alert them 24 hours prior to the time you are required to check-in. If cancellations are made within this time or in the case of no shows, they keep the full amount. No partial refunds for you.
These are the top Oahu dinner cruises for good reason, and all have unique traits that makes them special. They all offer a sunset dining experience with lots of food and drinks to choose from. The entertainment offerings are on point and the crew members friendly (and they know how to get the party started!).
But, they also offer slightly different packages in-between, so you’ll need to consider what works best for your distinct taste and cruising needs. That is the surefire way to enjoy the best Oahu dining cruise experience around.
Ready to set sail for a night of entertainment, great food, and beautiful views?