By: Stephen Florino
HONOLULU (KHNL) - After years of planning, months of construction, and days at sea, the Hawaii Superferry is now home and will soon be ready to provide people with another option for travelling inter-island.
The Alakai, which in Hawaiian means "ocean path" is now docked at Honolulu Harbor. She's 350-feet long, can carry more than 860-people, and 280-cars or trucks.
Both officials, and the people of Hawaii, are excited that she's here.
"Got up at 3 this morning, just looking forward to today," said John Garibaldi, president and CEO of Hawaii Superferry. "It's been a very exciting week, very exciting month, and very exciting year for us."
And apparently for many people as well. They line the lookout at Diamond Head for a glimpse.
"It hasn't been more excited since the USS Missouri came in," said Daryl Bactad. "I figure just check um out. It's pretty cool."
But the journey hasn't been all smooth sailing. Some say the Alakai will create traffic around ports, transport invasive species, and cause problems for whales.
"Nothing that has a lot of great potential is ever done easily," said Garibaldi.
He says they've done studies on all those issues, and the only thing he can do to win over opponents, is operate responsibly.
But it seems many are already buying into this new ocean path.
"I have several timeshares where I go back and forth from the islands," said Dale Wilhelm. "Now I can just use my own car. really looking forward to it."
"With all these airfare controversies nowadays, it's another alternative for local guys to go to the other islands," said Bactad. "I'm gonna check it out."
The Alakai's crew and staff must still undergo training, and the boat still needs to be certified by the Coast Guard.
So service isn't expected to start until August.
Hawaii Superferry is taking reservations for its service in September.
The Alakai offers daily trips between Oahu and Maui, and runs from Sunday through Friday between Oahu and Kauai.
Travel time is estimated to be about three hours each way.
One-way fares for adults starts at $52, and fares for cars start at $69.
The Alakai is Hawaii Superferry's first boat. The company is building a second boat, that's expected to be in Hawaii by 2009. That boat will provide service from Oahu to the Big Island.
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