Paradise Cruises Offers 5-Star Dinner Sail, More

Paradise Cruises Offers 5-Star Dinner Sail, More

If you haven't noticed a sizeable cruise vessel skirting Waikiki Beach from Aloha Tower to Diamond Head and back every evening at sunset, than quite frankly, you're either working too hard or living with your eyes half closed. And while some might think that this ship is solely a "touristy" sunset cruise, they would be would be wrong.

Star of Honolulu (and parent company Paradise Cruises) indeed operates a number of different sunset cruise packages and tours geared towards visitors. However, in addition to these, Paradise offers daytime Hawaiian cultural and snorkel-BBQ cruises, whale watching excursions, holiday party jaunts, wedding receptions and special occasions at sea as well as meeting and incentive sails for up to 1,500 guests.

We took an evening to "test" out the Star of Honolulu's Five Star dinner cruise, and were more than pleasantly surprised at the level of service, the culinary offerings and overall experience on the 2-hour sail.

Upon boarding we were escorted to the upper deck of the ship, and treated to canapホs and champagne, which we nibbled and sipped while looking out at the bustling harbor -- a perpective you simply don't get to see very often. As the ship began to sail, we made our way to an intimate table with sweeping vista windows. A potato leek soup started the evening, with prompt cocktail orders taken. A salad of fresh local greens followed, topped with confit of duck and blood orange vinaigrette. A roasted Maine lobster arrived next, the plate skirted in a tomato basil cream sauce.

Before the lemon-champagne intermezzo, we ventured outside as the ship turned away from the West Oahu mountains and headed east towards Diamond Head. The sun had already begun changing the color palate of Waikiki -- again -- a familiar sight seen from a brand new perspective, certainly a treat.

Back inside, live jazz had begun, swinging ragtime tunes that fit the mood aptly. A tenderloin of prime beef arrived at the table, stuffed with foie gras and polenta, paired with roasted winter veggies and a Madeira port wine demi glaze. It could be said that the beef appeared made to order, not on a line, as one would have suspected in such a capacity. The temperatures perfectly matched our order.

Afterwards we posed a few questions to the Star's executive chef, Richard Franco.

B on Hawaii: How do you respond to people who assume the fare served on a dinner cruise is average, at best?

Richard Franco: Our menus and service rival gourmet restaurants on land. We have different challenges from a land-based restaurant, since our customers will get up to admire the sunset and the coastline, and we also have shows going on, so it's a great challenge making sure courses arrive at their best. It all starts with using the finest and freshest ingredients in our menus. We are grateful for the wonderful relationships we have developed with vendors locally and from around the world.

B: But there are advantages as well. Not many get to change the backdrop of their restaurant on a nightly basis...

RF: The setting does make it even more special. There's nothing quite like the ever-changing backdrop of the ocean, sunset and Oahu coastline, which can be enjoyed from your table or on the Star's 60-foot-high observation deck. Whether you're an-out-of-town visitor or kama'aina it's the best way to enjoy the beauty of the island.

The Five-Star Dinner Cruise aboard the Star of Honolulu costs $169 per person, and includes all food, welcome champagne, premium cocktails and live music. Visit www.starofhonolulu.com or call (808) 983-STAR for more information.