On the Fly™ - Editorial Commentary by Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams

September 2007:  Does the Hawaii Super Ferry Create a Danger to Whales and Sea Life?
--by Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams

When I heard about the debut of the Hawaii Super Ferry service connecting the Hawaiian Islands with passenger and car ferry service, I was more than just delighted! I have enjoyed the ferry service on Irish Ferries ship the Jonathan Swift between the UK and Ireland, watched a major motion picture on board, had a lovely meal at a dining table by a window, shopped in their on-board mini-department store and enjoyed every minute of the journey. I had a similar experience between Piraeus and Mykonos, Greece and can attest to the fact that ferry travel is a relaxing, entertaining, enjoyable means of transportation that allows passengers to experience the destination during their travels, watch the scenery as it passes by, and eliminate carrying packages and luggage if you are taking your car on board since you can pack all your gear in the trunk. This is especially wonderful if you are traveling with children since you can leave the car seat and all other paraphernalia in the car! Ferry travel is such a civilized way to travel and very economical to boot!

You can only imagine how excited I was to hear about the debut of the Hawaii Super Ferry. So excited, that I contacted John Garibaldi, the CEO of Hawaii Super Ferry, to invite him to be a guest on Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams, my nationally syndicated radio show on the Business TalkRadio Network that airs on Sundays weekly. For me, having the ferry system in Hawaii opens a whole new arena for travelers, as well as residents of the Hawaiian Islands, to freely and peacefully enjoy passage from one island to another. Unlike time spent in airports, the time spent on a ferry feels like vacation time.

I was stunned, but not shocked, that objections would be posed resulting in a Temporary Restraining Order being placed on Hawaii Super Ferries under the guise that the company poses a danger to whales and other sea life. Aside from having filed all the proper paperwork and having passed a variety of regulatory requirements, Hawaii Super Ferries is now waiting for the results of a hearing today.

It makes me wonder if the whales who are in danger are those who operate flights between the islands and those who operate cruise ships that carry thousands of people every week through the waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. Being a skeptic, I wonder if the concern about ecology is the acceptable disguise to mask the concern of competitive forms of transportation in the region.

I have often believed that there are certain places in the world where one should not travel on a large cruise ship. One of those places is Alaska. The other is Hawaii. You don't want to be in a dining room where the windows are far away from your table and blocked by people dining in front of them, where you look over a the rail to see the water ten or more decks below so that you really can't see the oft-heralded whale or dolphin, where the major form of entertainment is not the natural beauty one goes to see in those destinations but is the presented in the form of feathered, sequined dancing girls wearing topless, bottomless evening straps so that when the excitement of the natural setting is putting on its show, the passengers are in a dark, windowless showroom.

I haven't been to Hawaii in several years now but the thought of having the ease and convenience of traveling from Honolulu to Maui to Kauai on the Hawaii Super Ferry, and, if things go as planned, to Kona on the Big Island when they start service planned for 2009, makes me want to pack my bags and go now! I believe that the Hawaii Super Ferry will give a serious reason for increased tourism to Hawaii because of the ease, the enrichment value, and the economics not to mention the time-effectiveness! A one hour flight takes all day between the early arrival at the airport, the flight, the baggage collection and then the time it takes to get to your hotel. Even an 11 am flight will end the touristic value of that wasted day. While it may take the same amount of time to arrive at the ferry terminal and sail to the next island of your choice, the experience is by no means one you would describe as wasted! The short cruise, on board amenities, various levels of service to choose from, and the glorious scenery slowly passing by, the ferry is the way I'd choose to travel!

What puzzles me is that cruise ships have been sailing between the islands for decades and have passed the ecology concerns. What would single out the Hawaii Super Ferry as the big, bad, dangerous vessel? Could it be that underlying the concerns is fear of competition from other means of visiting the Hawaiian Islands?

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