RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
The huge Hawaii Superferry paraded past Diamond Head and Waikiki yesterday accompanied by several boats and the Honolulu Fire Department fireboat. CLICK FOR LARGE
The first Hawaii Superferry arrived yesterday after a 17-day journey from Alabama
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It's finally here.
The first Hawaii Superferry arrived after a 17-day journey from Alabama that took it through the Panama Canal to Long Beach and -- 7,600 miles later -- to its homeport of Honolulu Harbor.
People stopped to watch as the huge catamaran paraded past Diamond Head and Waikiki accompanied by several boats and the Honolulu Fire Department fireboat.
The Alakai, which translates in Hawaiian as "ocean path," will give interisland travelers an alternative, allowing people to take their cars between Oahu, Maui and Kauai. The trips will take three hours.
An exact start date has not been announced, but service is expected to begin next month.
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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Onlookers at Sand Island State Recreation Area watched as Hawaii Superferry Alakai made its way toward Honolulu Harbor and Pier 19 yesterday afternoon. CLICK FOR LARGE
DAVE BANQUIL was shooting video of a surfing contest at Waikiki Beach yesterday when the Hawaii Superferry sailed into view.
"Everybody started coming up on the rocks," he said. "You could sense it. When that thing came in, everybody seemed interested in it."
After hearing about the vessel for so long, Banquil said, "just to see it over here was pretty cool."
People from Hawaii Kai to Honolulu Harbor caught a glimpse of the 350-foot Alakai as it came into its homeport for the first time.
Mel Namiki Roberts was on the wall at Queen's Beach when she saw the Alakai.
"Superferry!" she shouted with a thumbs-up.
She said she plans to take her kids in the family van, loaded up with fishing gear, to fish on the neighbor islands.
Roberts added that her brother-in-law, who races cars, also will use the ferry to bring his car to race on Maui.
"I'm all excited," she said.
The Alakai will connect Oahu, Maui and Kauai when it begins service sometime in August.
A traditional welcoming ceremony, including a Hawaiian chant, was performed after the Hawaii Superferry docked yesteday afternoon at Pier 19. CLICK FOR LARGE
Without giving figures, Terry O'Halloran, the director of business development fir Hawaii Superferry, said sales since the company started taking reservations have been "steady and brisk."
"We're getting reservations from commercial businesses, groups and families. We're kind of going all across the spectrum," he said.
John Garibaldi, president of Hawaii Superferry, said the company will be training staff and the crew this month and taking the vessel to Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.
The company also plans to hold community preview events to introduce the vessel to the public and let people climb aboard. Those events have not yet been scheduled.
Garibaldi said he does not see a problem competing with airlines, which offer shorter travel times and cheaper prices.
"We're not selling a seat, we're selling an experience," he said. "It's going to be a way of life around here. The expectation is people will just see that as the way to travel here."
The ferry service has also faced complaints from environmentalists who worried about the impact of the ferry on traffic and the environment.
"There's some remnants of litigation out there, but that's about it," Garibaldi said. "We're good to go."
A private ceremony was held for Alakai's arrival at the Ferry Terminal at Pier 19 along Kukahi Street.
Outside the gates, mo-ped riders, bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists stopped to catch a glimpse of the vessel.
The Superferry will carry 866 passengers and 250 cars. The vessel is 350 feet long and 78 feet wide.
"I'm ecstatic. This is a big treat for the Hawaii people," said Mahealani Teves of Manoa. "We have family on every island. All our families can have reunions."
Ashlyn Choy saw it at Makapuu, but wanted a better look, so she drove to the harbor.
"I like the colors. It just fits in with the ocean," she said.
A second ferry is being built in Mobile, Ala., and will begin service to the Big Island and a second daily trip to Maui in 2009.
The Hawaii Superferry is now taking online reservations for travel between Sept. 5 and Jan. 15. Reservations can be made at www.hawaiisuperferry.com or at 1-877-HI-FERRY (1-877-443-3779). Fares vary depending on the day of the week. There is also a fuel surcharge added to all tickets. Until July 31, the fuel surcharge is 30.8 percent of the ticket price. Here are the prices for one-way travel:
Online advance purchase: $44 or $54
Regular: $52 or $62
Children, Seniors and retired military: $41 or $51
Car or SUV less than 17 feet long and 8 feet high: $59 or $69
Large pickup or van less than 20 feet long and 8 feet high: $94 or $104
Motorcycles: $34 or $44
Lounge upgrade: $20; Excess or oversize baggage items: $25
Monday, July 2, 2007
» Hawaii Superferry's vessel, the Alakai, can carry 866 passengers and 282 cars. A photo caption on Page A5 in yesterday's paper incorrectly said the ferry can carry 400 passengers and 110 vehicles.