FL MORRIS / FLMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Hawaii Superferry yesterday took 250 passengers on a trial voyage that sailed to Diamond Head and then to Barbers Point and back to Pier 19. Chief Executive John Garibaldi called it a "soft opening." Above, passengers viewed Diamond Head off the fantail of the ship.
Superferry CEO sees smooth sailing ahead
Even with some queasy stomachs, the Alakai wowed during a trial voyage along the coast
Ten-year old Ariana Anderson looked over the Surf Break Lanai's outside deck as the Hawaii Superferry pulled away from Pier 19 yesterday and marveled at the force of the four water jets powering the ship.
"This Superferry is kind of like Disney World's Splash Mountain when you go down the water," Ariana said about the jets, each driven by a 1,000-horsepower diesel engine. "It kind of looks like it would go super fast and then it would all splash out."
And the inside of the vessel, she said, reminded her of the Disney Cruise because "it's, like, so spectacular -- except the Disney Cruise actually has rooms you can stay in," added Ariana, who for a time during the trip became a little queasy due to the rolling motion from the waves.
Onboard with Ariana, and her 10-year-old friend Kukii Falahee, were about 250 people, including about 150 media members who took a two-hour cruise on the 350-foot Alakai during a service rehearsal for Superferry friends and family members.
The trial run to Diamond Head and then to Barbers Point and back to Pier 19 was a "soft opening," according to Chief Executive John Garibaldi. He said the trip allowed the Superferry staff to go through all the procedures of an actual voyage prior to its Hawaii debut next Tuesday on separate trips from Honolulu to Maui and Kauai.
FL MORRIS / FLMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
A two-hour Hawaii Superferry trial run off Oahu's south and west shores left Ariana Anderson, front, feeling a little queasy. Her mom, Stephanie Anderson, back, described the trip to Diamond Head and Barbers Point as "beautiful, absolutely goregous."
"We went through the whole process today... and I'm very pleased," Garibaldi said. "We can improve on a number of things we see here today but, in general, it's been a great experience."
Garibaldi said the food lines were long partly because everyone was given complimentary tickets, but that he plans to add more food servers to speed up service.
The Superferry, which arrived in Honolulu on June 30 after a 17-day trek from the shipbuilding yard in Mobile, Ala., has been going through trial runs and staff and crew training since that time for its work force of just under 300.
Last week, the vessel reached a milestone when it received U.S. Coast Guard certification to carry passengers and vehicles, after passing safety and security procedures and demonstrating the vessel could be operated in a seaworthy and safe manner.
The Superferry held a similar practice cruise yesterday morning for staff members' friends and families, and plans two more today. It will hold additional practice runs next week from Maui and Kauai.
Cori Hamilton, one of the passengers who drove her vehicle onboard yesterday, said, "It was very easy, very fast."
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Hawaii Superferry went for a trial run from Koko Head to Waianae yesterday, sailing for the first time with vehicles on board.
"It would have been tougher with a stick shift because they have a couple of upramps that are pretty steep, and if cars pull in and are stopped, you can be stopped on that upramp and it could be pretty dicey with a standard (transmission)," she said.
Hamilton echoed the sentiment of many of the passengers that the best part of the trip was pulling out of the harbor and traveling along the picturesque coastline before heading farther out to sea.
"It was very smooth in the harbor and out here (farther away from shore) it's kind of fun and wavy-gravy," she said. "But it's great. There's a lot of room on board and it's very clean. And there's lots of windows."
Stephanie Anderson, Ariana's mother, described her Superferry experience as "beautiful, absolutely gorgeous."
Even the rolling wave motion that was constant when the ship was out at sea seemed to be of little concern.
"It's not that bad if you focus on the horizon; then you have a sense of groundedness even though you're on the move," she said. "The seats don't recline enough, but then there's so much to do, so many people to mingle with, that you don't have to be in your seat very much."
Robert White Jr., whose son Terry is the executive vice president of operations, said he was enjoying the ride from the comfort of the Hahalua Lounge.
"It just went through the waves instead of just going over them," White said.