Taking to the Sea

Superferry resumes service to Maui

By: Marty Wentzel

This is the first Image
From the deck of the Hawaii Superferry,
clients have unobstructed views of the islands.
After a three-month hiatus, the controversial Hawaii Superferry resumes service between Oahu and Maui on Dec. 13, while Oahu-Kauai trips remain on hold. The 350-foot high-speed interisland vessel made its debut in late August, but stopped two days later in response to protests that the state hadn’t required an environmental impact study for the service. Governor Linda Lingle called a special session of the Hawaii Legislature to address the situation, and in November she signed a law enabling the Superferry to operate while environmental studies are conducted.

“Hawaii Superferry believes that the operating conditions outlined by the governor are reasonable and fair under the current circumstances,” said Hawaii Superferry president John Garibaldi. “We appreciate the support we’ve received from everyone who shares the vision of uniting our islands and families by sea. We look forward to a new beginning as we start our voyages between Oahu and Maui, a new choice for interisland travel.”

Meanwhile, at press time, Superferry officials had set no date for the resumption of Oahu-Kauai service. When the ship first sailed to the Garden Island, protesters concerned about its impact on the environment blocked its way into Nawiliwili Harbor, forcing it to return to Oahu.

“We have already begun community outreach efforts on Kauai,” Garibaldi said. “We are proceeding cautiously, and the conversations we’ve had have been productive. We will make our decision about when we commence our Kauai service once that process is completed.”

For clients from the mainland, officials are promoting the Superferry as a “uniquely enjoyable and practical mode of transportation,” allowing visitors to see more than one island at reasonable rates.

“Hawaii Superferry is more than just an alternative way to get from one island to the next,” said Garibaldi. “This new service offers travelers an opportunity to view the Hawaiian Islands from a whole new perspective the sea. Clients can drive aboard in a rental car, with all of their belongings in the trunk. Once on the ship, they are free to roam, relax in the lounges, eat, drink and talk story. Upon arrival, passengers drive off, without having to touch their baggage or hustle for ground transportation.”

Dubbed the Alakai (Hawaiian for Ocean Path), the 866-passenger ferry boasts a catamaran-style design with a smooth, stable ride in Hawaii’s ocean conditions. Inside, clients have three dining options, with menu items ranging from Kona coffee to Asian pupus along with a mix of sandwiches, salads, soups and entrees. Seating varies from restaurant-type tables to reclining airplane-style chairs and tables surrounded by leather sofas. The Manta Cove play area entertains children, video games await teens and complimentary newspapers and board games are on hand for all travelers.

The passenger deck provides clients with unobstructed views through floor-to-ceiling windows and Low-E glass allows light in while moderating heat, keeping passengers cool and shielding them from UV rays.

The Alakai’s three main sections are equipped with flat-screen televisions offering safety videos, entertainment, movies and more. In addition, clients can rent a DigEplayer and watching the shows of their choice. For an extra fee, clients can upgrade their ticket for access to the Hahalua Lounge, where they get a complimentary welcome-aboard drink, snack and coffee. An onboard gift shop called the Calabash Store carries Hawaii-made products, magazines, coloring books, logo-wear, sundries and other merchandise.

Plans call for a second Superferry to enter the market in 2009, resulting in a second daily Oahu-Maui roundtrip and service between Hawaii’s Big Island and Oahu.


Hawaii Superferry

The interisland ferry, Alakai, is currently offering one daily roundtrip voyage between Oahu and Maui leaving Honolulu at 6:30 a.m. and arriving in Kahului at 10:15 a.m. For the reverse route, the vessel departs Kahului at 11:15 a.m. and arrives in Honolulu at 2:15 p.m.

To encourage ridership, Hawaii Superferry is promoting an introductory one-way fare of $29 per person for all voyages between Oahu and Maui through Dec. 20. From Dec. 21-March 12, the one-way rate goes up to $39. Children ages two and younger ride free through March 12. The inaugural fares are available only on advance purchases. Clients transporting a vehicle on the Superferry through March 12 get a break on the rate as well, with cars priced at $55 each way and motorcycles, scooters and mopeds at $35.

Hawaii Superferry has wholesale agreements with All About Travel and Panda Travel. Additional travel agent incentives will be announced in the near future.