Alii Kai Catamaran coasts in front
of Diamond Head.
Cousin Kimo is a charismatic character with all the right moves.
Whether sharing a story through an upbeat hula, twisting Chubby
Checker style or electric sliding with those of us in his bus
group, Kimo repeatedly sparked the gang into a cheering frenzy. And
the revelry proved contagious all evening as we cruised the
sparkling southern Oahu coastline aboard the Alii Kai Makahiki
On my recent sail aboard the 170-foot triple-deck
Polynesian-designed vessel, I noticed how quickly passengers
evolved into a festive family bonding through music, dance and
genuine Hawaiian hospitality. Roberts Hawaii has the floating luau
concept nailed down with authentic touches and an interactive
atmosphere where guests not only witness South Pacific culture and
spirit, but live it as well.
This luau pulsed, with Alii Kai’s host concept serving at its
core. Kimo and crew were a constant, even during bus transportation
to and from Waikiki hotels. The convivial team continuously
connected with us as our escorts, servers and entertainers.
“This is a fun cruise allowing passengers to truly interact,”
explained Konrad Ikei, director of marketing for Roberts Hawaii.
“Since each host stays with his bus group the entire time and
eventually becomes part of the show, they form an attachment with
Ikei defined the cruise as ideal for visitors seeking a more
authentic South Pacific sensation.
“We pride ourselves in having a pure Polynesian experience at
sea,” he remarked. “Our guests really get to know their host’s
personality and abilities, which makes the cruise more friendly and
Kimo was proof of
Shortly after setting out, Alii Kai’s generous buffet was
calling. Catering to varied tastes, the menu included local
favorites, as well as more traditional fare. We grazed on fresh
Nalo greens grown on Oahu, pasta salad, carved roast sirloin,
grilled shoyu chicken with Oriental vegetables, sauteed mahimahi,
mashed potatoes, steamed rice, tropical fruits, desserts and
beverages. No one seemed shy to plate up seconds, as cuisine was
just as ample as it was tasty. After dinner, I strolled to the
third level observation deck to soak in a picture-perfect sunset
edging the tip of the Waianae Mountains. Free from sound, aside
from the wind, this quiet viewing area made me notice how Honolulu
and Waikiki took on an entirely different feel from the water. It
was sublime to scope the silenced cityscape from the Pacific with
the majestic Koolau Mountains as a backdrop.
Since we were on the cusp of whale season, Ikei said these
gentle giants might still make a cameo appearance as could
dolphins, turtles, rainbows and a rare “green flash” when
conditions are just right as the sun meets the horizon. While
humpbacks were a no-show, we were graced with a radiant double
rainbow that spanned across Nuuanu to Kalihi Valley.
As the sun sank, things were heating up inside. The buffet lines
were cleared for a colorful staging area while everyone surrounded
the action. A trio who had played during dinner took on a different
tune, transporting us along a Polynesian mini-tour via song, chant
The Alii Kai hosts were center stage during the extravaganza. I
was especially intrigued with the talent required for New Zealand
Originally used as a coordination aid to prepare Maori men for
battle, today these percussive implements are used to teach a
variety of lessons. Kimo played traditional Tuele drums while
lively Tahitian dancers shook things up in festively colored native
Afterward, we were encouraged to enter the act, whether swaying
our hips, performing bus cheers learned en route to the pier or
hopping aboard the “Love Train” that chugged throughout the
showroom. What was so refreshing was the interplay and laughter
whether passengers were participating or watching from the
Ikei pointed out how authentic entertainment and venue sets Alii
Kai’s sunset cruise apart from the pack. “We feel our cruise
provides a true taste of Hawaii and the Polynesian culture,” he
said. “And the most important thing our guests carry away is the
feeling of ohana [family].”
Time flew by during the high-energy, two-hour cruise. Before I
knew it, we were back at the pier.
“We say goodbye in every Polynesian tongue that’s showcased in
the show,” commented Ikei.
Yet, what spoke loudest was Alii Kai’s aloha. As I disembarked,
I left this enjoyable experience with a stronger sense of how ohana
links strangers and cultures together as one.
Alii Kai Makahiki Dinner Cruise
Commission: 20 percent
Adults, $68.06; children 4-11, $37.07; under 4 free. Rates
include roundtrip transportation from Waikiki hotels, buffet, one
complimentary cocktail and dance show.