New superferry has one main difference

Dietrich Giles
Dietrich Giles

By Duane Shimogawa bio | email

MOBILE (KHNL) -- The first Hawaii Superferry, the Alakai, is months from away from getting a sister ship to sail Hawaiian waters.

Friday night, we got a sneak preview, as the yet-to-be named vessel is being built in a shipyard 5,000 miles away in Mobile, Alabama.

Superferry executives aren't giving away many details about the new ship.

There's one main difference between it and the Alakai which is intended to make the loading and unloading of vehicles a lot faster.

The massive ship building yard owned and operated by Australia's Austal company, is the birthplace of the Alakai and is now where a second superferry is being prepared for it's inaugural sail to Hawaii.

That's still months away, probably February next year. The new ferry incorporates some minor changes like friendlier serving areas, an upgraded sound system and a different color scheme.

The biggest difference though is a foldable ramp.

"So we don't have to use the barges that are currently in place that have proven to be complicated to use at times with the severe weather, it causes limitations," Superferry representative Dietrich Giles said.

As preparations move along, Superferry officials say another added benefit of this new vessel is more leg room between seats.

"It's like a real fancy airplane ride if you will, great views throughout the entire vessel so you can see the beauty that hawaii has to offer," Giles said.

In this version of another Hawaii Superferry, comfort is the key.

"There's a main salon, a forward VIP lounge area and in the back another little sitting area so you can get a little different taste of the vessel," Giles said.

It's scheduled to arrive in the islands during the first quarter of next year. It's traveling from Mobile, Alabama through the Panama Canal, to Los Angeles and then finally off to Hawaii. The trip should take around two weeks.