Superferry CEO Weighs in on Inter-Island Travel

John Garibaldi
John Garibaldi

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- The Alakai gets ready to hit the water on Monday, and the company says, it's better than ever.

The Hawaii Supeferry was out of service for almost two months to repair its damaged hulls.

Now employees put the finishing touches, and company executives are hopeful things will be smooth sailing from this point forward.

Hawaii Superferry CEO John Garibaldi went through some turbulent times: court challenges, protestors, bad weather and damage to the ship.  Now he says they are ready to go, and the dark, uncertain days are behind them.

Garibaldi makes the rounds, making sure things are ship-shape.

He and his employees have been waiting almost two months for Monday's re-launch.

"There's a lot of happy faces here," said Garibaldi.  "Over the last week, there's been a tremendous amount of just excitement and joy and passion in being able to sail again.

Repairs to the Alakai took seven weeks.

"She's undergone complete annual drydocking, has gone through all the testing, and our crews are ready," said Garibaldi.

He says having a viable alternative to air travel is more important than ever, especially with three airlines shutting down operations just this week.

"Air travel is always going to be a mainstay here in Hawaii," said Garibaldi.  "But I think having an alternative, having choice will really benefit the infrastructure and the people of this state, visitors, and businesses especially.

But Garibaldi has faced some heat because the Alakai has been hit by numerous cancellations and setbacks.

What do you want to say to critics who question the long term reliability of the ship?

"The ship has gone from bow to stern, every system being checked and rechecked, so we feel very, very confident, that we'll be providing a very reliable service to the people of Hawaii," said Garibaldi.

And he hopes to provide that service for a long time.

"Even given the challenges we faced early this year, there's still very much of a commitment to not only have Alakai operate, a second ferry operate, and to make this very much a part of our infrastructure and travel opportunites for the future," he said.

The second vessel is being built right now at Mobile, Alabama.

It is scheduled to be ready by early next year.  Then, it should come into the rotation by spring of 2009.