Are you looking for the best dinner cruises on Oahu that offer something special? Keep scrolling for my honest review of the Star of Honolulu Cruise in Waikiki to see if it’s worth it for families.
This Star of Honolulu Cruise review was written by Hawaii travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
My family LOVES going on boat rides in Hawaii. We also like to go to luaus. The Star of Honolulu dinner cruise is a combination of these.
I know that a lot of families have to make some tough decisions when it comes to their activities.
So, on my recent trip to Oahu with my 9-year-old, I figured I better check out the Star of Honolulu dinner cruise to see if it’s good for kids!
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Before we dive into this Oahu boat ride review, I figured it might be helpful to explain a bit about Hawaiian luaus. I know that a lot of families choose between a boat ride and a luau.
A luau is an evening event that features Hawaiian food, music, and hula dancing. It usually lasts a few hours and can include some hands-on activities, demonstrations, and audience participation.
But they aren’t all the same. The Star of Honolulu is a dinner cruise that also has Hawaiian entertainment. While it’s not a luau, there is a hula show and live music as part of the experience.
Where is the Star of Honolulu on Oahu?
The Star of Honolulu is super easy to find. It’s just a 15-minute drive from Waikiki. You’ll go to Pier 8 at Aloha Tower Marketplace. The address is 1 Aloha Tower Drive, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813.
It’s not within walking distance of anywhere in Waikiki so you’ll either need to arrange for transportation or drive yourself and pay for parking. Round-trip transportation from Waikiki is available for a nominal fee.
If you’re getting there by yourself, make sure to get there 45 minutes before your cruise starts. For the dinner cruises, you should check in by 4:45 PM.
Where Should I Park?
If you’re driving yourself, I recommend trying to get a spot at Irwin Park. That’s what we did. It’s the closest parking lot to the Star of Honolulu and you’ll pay for parking at a kiosk in the Aloha Tower area. Here are some other options.
What to Expect at the Star of Honolulu Dinner Cruise
We arrived with plenty of time to find parking and grab my son a quick snack at the market before checking in at the table. Everyone gets a name tag sticker to wear.
Then, we walked around to take selfies in front of the massive ship. It’s 4 levels and it’s HUGE!
Welcome Hula + Photo Op
Hawaii tourism really took off in the 1920s and women used to dance on the docks as the ships came in.
The Star of Honolulu does a mini hula show right before people are invited onto the ship. It’s like a bon voyage show.
Then, you can board the ship and people will take you to your table.
We sat on the 3rd floor at a reserved table and it was fabulous. A photographer came around and took photos of all the guests which were available to purchase later in the evening.
Views of Waikiki
On this cool ship, you can see the sunset and the sparkling city lights of Waikiki from all around. It has four levels where you can walk around and look out, plus a super high deck that’s 60 feet up in the air.
So you get to see everything from way up high and all around you – it’s like having the best view in Hawaii!
We went up at sunset and then we went back up when it was dark so we could see the twinkling city lights. It was the highlight of the evening!
There were a bunch of lounge chairs up there and we saw a few couples just relaxing and watching the stars.
There are actually a few different package levels to choose from on each Oahu dinner cruise.
Pacific Star Sunset Buffet & Show Cruise
This experience includes a welcome Mai Tai, a Pacific Rim dinner buffet with a roast beef carving station, and a fun Polynesian show. This one is probably the one that works best for families because it’s the most affordable and has a buffet.
Star Sunset Dinner & Show Cruise
This one includes a delicious Signature Mai Tai, a 3-course crab, steak, and BBQ chicken dinner, and their festive “65 Years of Aloha” show.
Three Star Sunset Dinner & Show Cruise
This experience includes a 5-course whole Maine lobster and tenderloin steak gourmet dinner, premium beverages, and live entertainment (including a jazz singer). This is the one we did and I loved the food!
Nova Five Star Sunset Dinner & Show Cruise
This one takes place on the top deck with 360-degree panoramic views. It includes a “champagne” toast followed by a 5-Course Maine Lobster & Prime Tenderloin of Beef Dinner at your own private table. And there’s jazz music.
If you have dietary restrictions, they can provide alternative entrées (fish, chicken, or vegan) with 24-hour advance notice. The Child Menu is the same as the Adult Menu, but the child price is discounted to be family-friendly.
On the Three Star Sunset Dinner & Show Cruise, we had a lovely jazz singer who kept us entertained throughout dinner.
She had an extensive repertoire and she also took a few requests. She even did jazzy-versions of classic songs.
Once we docked at the end of the cruise, we enjoyed the 20-minute “65 Years of Aloha” show.
It was like an abridged version of a luau with hula dancing, Tahitian dancing, and Maori (New Zealand) dancing.
There were dancers on the stage as well as throughout the audience, so everyone had a good view.
Why We Chose Oahu’s Star of Honolulu Cruise
My family loves watching hula shows when we travel to Hawaii. We usually go to several shows per trip because it’s something everyone enjoys.
But, we like to check out hula shows in Hawaii that offer something special or unique.
When we heard that this Oahu boat ride highlighted hula dancing, we knew we wanted to experience it for ourselves. It’s something different than what we’ve done on our other trips to Oahu.
How Does the Star of Honolulu Dinner Cruise Compare to Other Oahu Luaus?
I want to make it clear that this is much more of a dinner cruise with some hula than an actual luau.
The hula show lasted about 15 minutes and it happened once we were docked at the pier.
The Star of Honolulu cruise is perfect for families who are mostly focused on good food and amazing scenery. The show is lovely, but it’s much shorter than typical luau shows.
If you’ve ever been on a cruise before, this has all the vibes of a cruise dinner.
Is the Upgraded Menu Worth the Extra Money?
We opted for the Three Star Sunset Dinner & Show Cruise primarily because it featured steak and lobster. I’m a huge fan of Hawaiian food at luaus, but when I think of a dinner cruise, I envision steak and seafood.
My 9yo usually loves steak and lobster so I was really surprised that he wasn’t very hungry during dinner. We were still a bit jetlagged from arriving the night before.
I think if you’re going just with adults (or with kids who are foodies) the upgraded menu is totally worth it. However, if your kids are picky eaters, I wouldn’t splurge.
Star of Honolulu Dinner Cruise FAQs
What happens if I get seasick?
There are ginger pills available for people who are prone to motion sickness during this Waikiki boat ride.
Is it wheelchair-friendly?
Yes, in fact, it’s Hawaii’s only ADA-compliant vessel. They also have boarding ramps and 2 elevators to accommodate wheelchairs.
Can I bring my stroller?
Yes, and there is plenty of room to wheel it around the ship.
Are there changing tables for babies and toddlers?
Yes, there is a setup on the first level restroom.
What should I wear?
For dinner cruises Star of Honolulu recommends resort elegant or casual attire (leave your shorts and flip flops at the hotel). I wore a dress but brought along a sweater for later in the evening.
So, Is Star of Honolulu Cruise Kid-Friendly?
The Star of Honolulu Cruise is a good option for families who would like to do a sunset boat ride and enjoy a nice meal.
But, I wouldn’t say that it’s geared toward kids. There aren’t any activities or kids’ menu items.
As I’m looking back at our experience, I could totally see us doing this again when we bring grandparents for a multi-generational trip. It’s an easy way to get together, eat good food, enjoy tropical cocktails, and see some pretty sights.