Superferry still makes sense to me
Just when I thought every possible question about the Hawaii Superferry had been explored ad nauseam in the media, up pops a new one from a friend of mine.
"Are you sure it really makes good business sense anyway?" he asked. "I mean, with its additional fuel surcharge, who will actually use it even if it's allowed to run?"
So, because I have always thought that my wife and I would likely be future customers of the ferry, I consulted its Web site for its current fares and fees to see if it made economic sense.
For my imaginary itinerary I chose a three-day, two-night trip to Maui, with a departure on a Friday and a return to Honolulu on Sunday.
For our midsized SUV, packed with luggage, golf clubs and a one-man outrigger canoe on top, the rate for it all would be $138 round trip.
The passenger fares, with a 14-day advanced Web site purchase, would be $216 round trip for the two of us. And along with that and the vehicle charge, there would be a fuel surcharge of 28.3 percent, or about $100.
The total travel cost for our three-day trip to Maui and back would be $454 via the Hawaii Superferry. And, naturally, hotel charges, green fees, meals and libations would be additional expenses.
Then, the question was, how did that compare with making the same trip the traditional way by means of a cab, airplane and rental car?
First, of course, the one-man canoe would be staying home. And our initial travel expense would be the taxi ride from home to the airport, and eventually back, for approximately $60.
As our local air carriers are still in a fare war, the current price is at a reasonable $39 instead of up to $169 per person as it has been. So, for this month at least, our flight would cost us $156, plus taxes and fees, for a total of $180 round trip, rather than the $300 or so it may likely be in the future.
Once we arrived on Maui, our next travel expense would be renting a car.
The cost for three days from Alamo checked out at about $125 for a standard auto.
This brought the total cost for the fly/drive interisland outing to $365, round trip, a savings of $89 compared to the Superferry's $454.
I doubt that difference will discourage most potential ferry customers, plus it seems to me there is more to the comparison than just the cost.
As anyone who has vacationed by car knows, you are not limited to airline luggage regulations. Any sized toiletry containers are legal, cooler chests are a given, and in fact, the only restrictions are those that are established by the size of your vehicle.
Moreover, the Superferry wouldn't be just another way to get from one island to another. It would instead allow everyone an opportunity to enjoy a brief but priceless, and spectacularly scenic, ocean cruise.