Scheduled to set sail this July with space for 866 passengers and 282 vehicles, the Hawaii Superferry hopes to transform the way people get around the islands. But considering that interisland flights have recently dropped as low as $19, the success of the ferry is hardly a slam dunk.
The ferry leaves Pier 19 in Honolulu, Oahu, daily at 6:30 A.M. bound for Maui, with a return scheduled to depart at 11 A.M. It leaves Honolulu Sunday to Friday at 3 P.M. for Kauai, with a 7 P.M. return. Each voyage takes three hours. Another ferry is planned for a second Maui-Oahu run and a round trip between Honolulu and the Big Island, set to begin in 2009.
All indications suggest it'll be pleasant on board. The Superferry has four big-screen TVs showing live programming and movies, free Wi-Fi, and a 200-square-foot children's area. The floor-to-ceiling windows allow for panoramic views.
An old state law, requiring a vehicle's owner to give approval before it's taken interisland, means bringing rentals on the ferry could be complicated. Ferry officials are confident some rental cars will be permitted, but as of press time, no agreement had been reached. Renters picking up a car on one island and leaving it on another should at least expect a drop-off fee.
Ferry tickets aren't cheap, either. Adults pay $52 one way Tuesday to Thursday, $62 Friday to Monday; kids ages 2 to 12 pay $11 less. Infants under 2--who can ride free on flights if they sit on an adult's lap--are charged $17 on the ferry. Fees for bringing a car start at $59.
If the airfare wars keep up, flying interisland will often cost less than the Superferry, so only book the latter if you think you'll really enjoy the ride.