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Protests and legal challenges have roiled the waters for the
Hawaii Superferry. The 866-passenger vessel, designed to carry
visitors, residents and cars between the islands of Oahu, Maui and
Kauai, started service on Aug. 26. It voluntarily suspended
operations two days later when dozens of protesters on surfboards,
canoes and kayaks blocked the vessel’s entry into Nawiliwili Harbor
Opponents of the operation have voiced concern over the impact
that the high-speed four-story Superferry could have on Hawaii’s
natural resources. Although the state waived the need for an
environmental impact statement in 2005 and spent more than $40
million to improve harbors in anticipation of the service, the
State Supreme Court ruled in August that such a review was
necessary after all. The $95 million ferry sat idle in Honolulu as
judges on Maui and Kauai weighed whether or not it can operate
while the environmental review takes place.
The ferry won a major victory in early September when a Kauai
judge denied a motion for a temporary restraining order, allowing
the vessel to return to the Garden Isle beginning Sept. 26. The
Coast Guard announced new security measures, while Hawaii governor
Linda Lingle a staunch supporter of the Superferry warned that
protestors will be arrested if they cross security lines at
“The governor, the U.S. Coast Guard and various state and county
agencies have provided Hawaii Superferry with assurances regarding
the safety of our passengers, employees and the members of the
community,” said Hawaii Superferry president John Garibaldi. “We
look forward to providing a safe and reliable interisland ferry
Meanwhile, the fate of the ferry’s Maui route remained uncertain
at press time. Service between Oahu and Kahului Harbor is on hold
indefinitely while a Maui Circuit Court judge decides if the ferry
can run during the environmental assessment.
The uncertainty of the Maui route prompted Garibaldi to say that
he needs to have “actionable information within four to six weeks
in order for us to determine whether or not we can continue to
“We’ve had discussions with a variety of parties, including
members of the state Senate, about our inability to sustain
operations indefinitely without revenue,” said Garibaldi.
A second Superferry is under construction in Alabama and is
scheduled for service in 2009.
ASTA Comments on Carnival Commissions
The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has expressed
disappointment in the decision by Carnival Corp. to no longer pay
commissions to U.S. and Canadian travel agents on the airline
portion of agency sales. The decision is effective for new bookings
made on or after Oct. 15.
In a statement, ASTA said: “ASTA is obviously disappointed in
the announcement by Carnival Corp. that its related cruise lines
will cease paying commission on cruise-related air services booked
through Carnival. Although this policy change by Carnival Corp.
does not represent a financial disaster for our members, it does
strike at their potential earnings which can only be viewed as a
negative factor in our relationships. Furthermore, it represents a
disservice to our clients in booking Carnival’s products and is
likely to create an inconvenience to many cruise passengers.
Additionally, it will further erode the usefulness of the Carnival
air-cruise package service by creating a further disincentive for
agents to book it and by diminishing the usefulness of the Carnival
product in the eyes of many consumers. Leisure-focused agents who
do not sell air will be forced to find work-arounds and further
complications may be introduced into travel agency fee
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore will speak at Turks &
Caicos’ Environmental Conference on Nov. 18-20 in Providenciales.
Gore will share his theme of “Thinking Green: Economic Strategy for
the 21st Century,” arguing that physical changes on our planet will
influence the global economy. The conference will serve as a
culmination of the government’s efforts to commemorate their Year
of the Environment’s two key objectives: raise the level of
environmental consciousness in the country and develop public and
private partnership arrangements in managing the environment.