Hawaii bureau chief Katherine Nichols and her family sampled
Paradise Cruise's three-hour Diamond Head Odyssey cruise. Her
urely my two children have had
more fun than they did this day aboard the Starlet II. But I don't
After all, how many activities show off Honolulu's most
attractive features and leave three generations pleasantly
Paradise Cruise operates a variety of excursions from two
harbors in Honolulu, covering everything from weddings and
five-star sunset dinners to Hawaiiana lunch tours. The firm offers
10% commission to travel agents on all bookings, including
One of the most popular programs also is the most unusual.
The Diamond Head Odyssey packs water sports, a snorkeling tour,
fishing and a barbecue lunch into a half-day adventure.
Next year, the excursion will change its name to the Diamond
Head Snorkel & BBQ Cruise and will move to the bigger, 128-foot
Starlet I while the Starlet II undergoes a $300,000 renovation.
Cruises depart from Oahu's Kewalo Basin at 9:30 a.m. and return
at 12:45 p.m. Transportation is available from Waikiki.
Passengers should be sure to bring towels and sunscreen;
everything else is provided.
Once underway on the 20-minute sail, what grabbed our attention
wasn't the spectacular view of the mountains shrouded in gray mist
but a pod of about 80 dolphins frolicking nearby.
Our captain circled the boat -- an invitation to play -- and the
dolphins loved the idea.
Several leaped from the water then swam alongside the speeding
After saying good-bye to the dolphins, life jackets and
snorkeling gear awaited us. The kids could hardly contain
themselves when we arrived at the mooring to find a floating
trampoline about 30 feet from the Starlet, along with inflatable
boats, two two-person kayaks and a windsurfer.
Even getting into the water can be its own adventure. Cruisers
have the option of stepping off the rear of the boat or sliding
from the top level at the stern. The high velocity of the latter
trip elicited high marks from all of the pre-adolescent boys
aboard, including my son.
But the boys thought they'd gone to heaven when the crew opened
a gate for a 15-foot leap off the bow. A 20-minute guided
snorkeling tour invited everyone to join a swarm of glossy black
trigger fish and catch glimpses of two turtles.
On other occasions, snorkelers have spotted an eagle ray and
been joined by dolphins.
While not fancy, the food aboard the vessel was fitting for a
barbecue. Everyone dipped into hamburgers and garden burgers, hot
dogs, fruit, baked beans and brownies.
A few even relaxed with a red and white "lava flow" cocktail, a
blend of pina colada, pineapple and strawberry.
Too soon, we were back on land, and grandparents, parents and
kids in my group raved about the cruise.
For days, my son did not stop talking about "playing on the
trampoline and the slide and seeing grandma go off the platform."
And my 8-year-old daughter kept asking, "When can we go on that
The Diamond Head Odyssey costs $49.95 for adults and children,
$58.95 with transportation from Waikiki.
For more details on Paradise Cruises, call (800) 334-6191 or