Friday, May 30, 2008


Risks in taking rental cars on Superferry were not disclosed

by Larry Geller

Anyone taking a rental car to another island runs the risk of costly penalties if they can't take it back, as might happen if a return voyage is canceled or the ferry suffers unexpected damage. I have not seen anything yet about these penalties being waived.

A British website,, includes a longer warning than I've seen in the local articles that ran yesterday, but still nothing about risks:

Hawaiian websites and newspapers, however, warn that renters should expect surcharges if they wish to take advantage of this new service, as well as possible restrictions on precisely where renters will be able to take their vehicles. As such, those planning on using ferries are well advised to contact their car rental company in advance, in order to find out the specific terms of this new opportunity.

Only the Star-Bulletin article went the extra journalistic mile and hints of extra charges and restrictions. It says, though that cars can't be dropped off for some rental companies but doesn't say what happens if you're trapped by a ferry cancellation and have to leave without your car.

Nothing about surcharges in other local articles (KGMB, KHNL, KPUA, Honolulu Advertiser, etc.) based primarily on the inadequate AP wire story parroting the Superferry press release.

If your return trip is canceled--watch out!

Imagine, now, that your return trip is canceled (and there has been no shortage of cancellations). While the Hawaii Superferry website carries this caution about car rental contracts:

Important: The rental contract must be valid and not expired before the return date of your reservation on Hawaii Superferry.

it doesn't hint what could happen to you if you need to return home and have to drop off your rental car on the other side.

Quick answer: you could have to pay a drop-off charge of $400 or more and "concession fees" of approximately $50-70 on top of that.

Drop Off Charge

I know that the Superferry wants to paint a sunny picture, but some hint of the size of cancellation penalties might be good to post on their website in fairness to tourists. They could be trapped into paying the huge penalty if they need to catch flights home and find that their return ferry trip is canceled or delayed.


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I wathced the KITV piece on the news last night about this. The reporter cheerfully chirped "Now people can enjoy driving on two islands!"

I'm usually not nit-picky, but why the use of the work "enjoy"? Really. Now people can drive on two islands would be sufficient, but when its about SF - people can ENJOY driving. Its a small point, but why do I think that the TV station has just regurgitated a press release fluff piece that the stattion did not write (But was written by the SF's PR guys).

Is this paranoid? I dont like conspiracy theories, but I just can't see an "objective" reported using the term enjoy to describe driving.

What could be better than driving in congested Oahu traffic? Why, driving in the congested no-freeways Maui traffic, of course!

Enjoy. :)

Wow, that could be pricy. Good work Larry.

Aloha, Brad

The SF isn’t transporting these rental cars for free. No one has pointed out how you’d have to be an imbecile- or so rich you don’t care- to pay the fare for the ferry to transport your rental car when you can return one as you get on and pick up another as you get off.. If the rental companies were doing anything- other than allowing it- they would let you keep the same contract and return and pick up cars on either end...but then the SF wouldn’t make a nickel. Which of course is the point- this is just a scam to steal from stupid people- but then so is the ferry itself.

Andy, why didn't I think of that... you have a way of recognizing the basic truths.

Sure... with shuttle services to the harbor now, all someone would need to do is turn in their car, as you say, and pick up another one on the other side. And safe the ferry charge for the car altogether.

I'll have to elevate your comment to a post so that people will see it.

Many thanks for pointing this out.

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