Thanks to Honolulu, Oahu is by far the most populated of the Hawaiian Islands, and presumably it is this large population, combined with a steady flow of tourists all year, that supports the wide array of dining cruises offered on the island. The number and diversity of dining cruises on Oahu can in fact be a bit overwhelming. A few basic searches online will turn up a sea of results, making it hard to figure out exactly what’s on offer. This is especially true since so many of the entities “offering” dining cruises from Oahu are actually third-party sellers, which creates a lot of duplicate information scattered across various websites. Basically, there is a lot to wade through when looking for dining cruises on Oahu, so we have attempted to gather up the most relevant details and distill it into the following guide. Our main objective is to determine who offers what, but we’ll conclude with a couple of notes about booking a dining cruise from Oahu.
From what we have gathered, there are three large providers of dining cruises on Oahu: Star of Honolulu, Atlantis Navatek Cruises, and Alii Kai Catamaran. The Star of Honolulu has the most diverse set of offerings, which range from cruises with a seven-course dinner to cruises that feature a buffet. In between these offerings are two other cruises, one with a Maine lobster and tenderloin steak dinner and the other with a sirloin steak and all-you-can-eat crab dinner. All cruises with the Star of Honolulu feature a show along with dinner, so all tickets purchased cover both the meal and on-board entertainment. The cruises of Atlantis Navatek and Alii Kai are in a similar mold to the Star of Honolulu’s, but neither offers as many options. Atlantic Navatek has a buffet cruise and a plated-dinner cruise, which both feature live entertainment, and Alii Kai has a buffet cruise that features a live show as well. Overall, then, the cruises offered by the big three companies are fairly similar.
In addition to these larger companies, there are at least a couple of smaller yachts that we were able to find that offer dining cruises. One is the Makani Catamaran, which operates the “Honolulu City Lights Sunset Dinner Cruise” and the “Friday Night Fireworks Sunset Dinner Cruise” throughout the year. The ship is certainly smaller than the vessels of the big three companies discussed above, but it can still accommodate 80 people for dinner. The other yacht that offers dining cruises is the Ko Nau Lani. This vessel can normally accommodate 80 people, but it is converted into a dinner cruise on Thursday evenings that will hold a maximum of 20 people, so it offers a comparatively intimate dining experience, even by dining yacht standards. There are almost certainly other private boats for hire that could be used for a dining cruise, but the companies we have cited appear to be the main providers of regularly scheduled dining cruises.
With the exception of Ko Nau Lani, dining cruises with any of the companies above can be booked online through their respective websites. Ko Nau Lani doesn’t appear to have a website, so unless you are already on Oahu and can make direct contact with the owners, you might have to book through a third-party website. Tom Barefoot’s Tours might be the best company to work with, at least for this particular cruise, since they have a webpage dedicated to Ko Nau Lani’s dining cruises, and you can make a reservation right through this webpage. You might consider using a third-party vendor to book one of these other cruises as well, but we always recommend checking the actual company’s rates first. Even if a third-party seller offers some sort of “discount,” it is possible that the actual company has an even cheaper official price, perhaps because of a promotion of their own. (This currently appears to be the case with Atlantis Navatek Cruises, whose prices are cut on third-party websites, but the biggest discounts, at least at the moment, can be found directly on the Atlantis Navatek Cruises website.)
Even with this guide in hand, there are still a lot of options to consider, but at least you now have a reasonably complete idea of what is available. We recommend checking out the official sites linked to above to get a sense of exactly what each company offers, and once you decide on a company you can figure out how to get the cheapest price. It is possible that a third-party seller has the best price, but it is very often the case the cheapest and easiest way to book a ticket is through the company that offers the cruise.