HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Hawaii Superferry set sail for the last time as a passenger ferry service Thursday. Its executives shut down operations after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled a law passed to keep the ship running while an environmental review process was going on was unconstitutional.
The Alakai came back home for the last time at about 2:45 pm Thursday without much fanfare. The mood on the ship was somber. Many were disappointed that the Alakai's bumpy journey in Hawaiian waters has come to an end.
Chopper 8 tracked Alakai's final voyage from Maui's Kahului harbor back to O'ahu's Honolulu harbor. The ship carried 400 passengers and 126 vehicles.
"Sad. I'm very disappointed," said Barbara Pruder, a Superferry passenger who lives in St. Louis Heights. "We were really looking forward to it. This was the second time I've taken on the Superferry and we love it."
The shutdown of the Superferry's passenger service means more than two hundred people are now out of a job.
"But this is really sad," said Myra Amisone, a Superferry passenger who lives in Kalihi. "I feel sad for the employees. One of my friends is actually an employee and she was crying and it's hurtful to see that."
Passengers say the Alakai was a good alternative to flying to neighbor islands.
"It was really roomy and there was food and stuff, and it was a good trip," said Marjorie Butler, a Superferry passenger who is visiting from Sitka, Alaska. "It's better than being on a plane, I think."
"A ferry always seemed like an easy, kind of convenient way of getting to a place a lot easier than the airlines," added Jason Yelvigton, who is also from Sitka, Alaska. "So it's kind of surprising that the only route is getting shut down."
Many here hope the issue gets ironed out in court so the Alakai can set sail again.
"I'm looking forward for them to come back," said Amisone.
"So you're optimistic they'll come back?" asked KHNL.
"Yeah, I'm sure," she said. "I hope so. I really hope so."