1) The taxi fare from the USVI airport to Red Hook to pick up the ferry has risen. The current cost is $15.00 per person. The Taxi Association has uniform fares, so no room for negotiations. That being said, you definitely want to take the ferry from Red Hook rather than Charlotte Amalie because the ride is shorter and much more comfortable. Heading into the wind, pounding against the waves and rounding the tip of St. Thomas from Charlotte Amalie does not make for a pleasant ride!!!
2) Because of the economic downturn, the ferries have cut back on their schedules. Smith's and Native Son have merged- two names but same company. There is no longer a night ferry. From Red Hook, the latest ferry to West End is 5:00pm. Coming from Atlanta, we had about a 2 hour wait in the ferry terminal. It was very comfortable- there is a nice breeze through the new terminal, you can buy cold drinks and it was fun to people watch. The round trip fare is now $50.00 per person. I would not recommend buying round trip fare because you may need to take a different ferry line back (see below).
3) The 5:00pm ferry goes to Road Town, saving money and time. Previously, we would take the earlier ferries to West End. There, we would pick up a taxi to the charter bases. The 5:00 ferry makes a brief stop in West End and then continues on to Road Town. Because it was the last run of the day, the Customs process was quick and it was a short cab ride to the Moorings!
4) Because the ferry schedules have cut back, we had to adjust our leave time. Although our return flight out of St. Thomas was not until 3:00pm, the only ferry from Native Son that would get us back in time was the 8:30 am ferry. The next Native Son service was at noon. There is a tremendous amount of road construction in St. Thomas and the Customs process is quiet slow at the airport. Thus, we were advised that it would be cutting it too close to take the noon ferry. After talking to Customer Service at the Moorings, we opted to take the 11:00 am "fast ferry" out of Road Town. Even though we had to pay the cost of a one way ticket, it allowed us to enjoy our last morning on the charter and gave us better connections.
5) There are two "fast ferry" companies, Tortola Fast Ferry and Road Town Fast Ferry. Both offer a $30 one way ticket. Both companies tried to outbid each other for your business, so we were able to negotiate $25 tickets (senior fares) for the whole group. The Tortola Fast Ferry is the closed-in ferry; the Road Town Fast Ferry is a high speed catamaran with an open upper deck seating option. We opted for the later for the following reasons: First, because we were catching the beginning of Tropical Storm Alex, we thought the catamaran would be more comfortable. Second, whereas other ferries are required to stop at St. Johns before bringing you to Red Hook (there is not a customs office in Red Hook), the Road Town Fast Ferry goes directly from Tortola to St. Thomas where there is a US Customs office right at the dock in Charlotte Amalie. This saved up to as much as a 45 minute delay. In addition, it was just a short cab ride again from the ferry terminal to the airport.
Whatever you opt to do, taking a ferry ride is a nice way to begin and end your Caribbean charter boating the BVI. At the beginning, it is a great way to relax and get in the "island time" mood. At the end, it is a final farewell to the beautiful islands of the British Virgin Islands. For more insider tips, do not hesitate to contact our staff. If we don't have the answers, we will get them for you in order to make your Caribbean charter adventure the best ever! - Donna