Hawaii Cruise Excursions Bring the Luau to You

Tiki torches at a Hawaiian luau

Hawaii cruise excursions are pure magic. Between the time you spend in such oases as OahuMaui, the Big Island, and Kauai, and the time you spend embracing the "aloha spirit" onboard your cruise ship, you're sure to fall in love with everything Hawaii has to offer. No matter how you decide to spend your time, your Hawaiian experience won't be complete without an authentic luau. Here's some background on this integral aspect of Hawaiian culture, and what you can expect when you attend.

History of the Luau

Once referred to as 'aha'aina, which means "gathering meal," a Hawaiian luau was originally planned to celebrate significant milestones or victories with family and friends. Every type of food served at an 'aha'aina was symbolic, representing strength, virtues, or specific goals. Men and women ate separately, and certain foods, including pork and bananas, were forbidden to all at these parties except the Hawaiian chiefs. King Kamehameha II ended these religious practices in 1819, making way for what is now the traditional luau.

Save Your Appetite

You will always find an abundance of food when you're at a luau. Among the items typically served are poi, made from the underground stem of the taro plant; kalua pig, roasted whole; fish cooked in an underground oven called an imu; and bananas, sweet potatoes, and rice.

A Hawaiian luau is a casual affair. It is traditional to eat with your fingers and try a bit of everything.

Get Ready to Hula

A ritual unique to the Hawaiian Islands, hula uses dance, chants, and music to tell stories and preserve island culture. There are many varied forms of hula, ranging from hula auana — modern hula, accompanied by Western-style music — to hula kahiko, or ancient hula, in which dancers wear more traditional attire and dance to chants and percussive instruments. While luaus are a little different everywhere you go, each one guarantees authentic Polynesian culture, with performers in traditional dress singing, dancing, and embodying the soul of Hawaii.

Luaus and More

While you're in Honolulu, spend a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center and learn about the history and people of the islands of the Pacific. At the end of the day, feast on a mouthwatering array of Hawaiian food while enjoying the talents of 100 performers during the award-winning Ali'i Luau. From a traditional greeting complete with leis to a royal procession, unveiling of the kalua pig, and ancient dances, you'll experience the true vibrancy of Hawaiian culture during this event.

Don't forget to immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture while onboard your cruise, too. Take advantage of Princess Cruises' Aloha Spirit program, where you'll learn to hula dance, play a ukulele, sample Hawaiian rum, or take a native language course. With Princess Cruises, you'll find all the tools and experiences you need to enhance your days on the islands, rejuvenate, and come back new.