Ferry to Charlotte Amalie down again

Both ferry companies have been canceling their runs from Cruz Bay to Charlotte Amalie – without notice. 

The St. John Source reports that the director of the Public Services Commission is concerned.  At least one person missed a flight from St. Thomas because the CB-to-CA ferry was not running. Spokesmen for both companies told the Source they expected service to be resumed by the end of the week.

Neither Varlack Ventures nor Transportation Services has explained why service on the route has been sporadic.  Odds are that, given that it’s low season, the companies may figure the relatively light passenger load, and the long water run don’t add up to a profitable venture.

Myrvang a repeat winner of Power Swim

A 16-year-old from St Croix, Annie Myrvang, was the first place finisher in the 4th annual Beach to Beach Power Swim.  She also won the event last year.  Myrvang completed the 3.5 mile swim from Maho Bay to Hawksnest Bay in 1 hour 20 minutes.  Her average speed in the water: 2.62 miles an hour. 

Dave Nielsam from St. Thomas finished second with a time of 1:21:10.  The third place finisher was Barb Crowder from California with a time of 1:22:10.  There were 142 competitors in this year’s event which included courses for solo swimmers as well as relay teams.

Conditions for this year’s Power Swim were a little rougher than in past years.  Joe Kessler, president of the Friends of the VI National Park, the organizer of the event, said there was a light surf which "made it more challenging this year." Sponsors included Alfredo’s Landscaping, Scotia Bank, and Mongoose Junction

Here’s a link to the complete results: http://www.friendsvinp.org/swim/07_results.pdf

Gasoline nears $4.00

You may be headed to the island, but you’re not going to get away from it all.

Domino Oil stations on St. Thomas increased the price of a gallon of gasoline 37 cents in the past week, according to the Virgin Islands Daily News.  The company’s station in Coral Bay posted a price of $3.89 a gallon this week, the newspaper added.

You can bet taxi drivers are feeling the increase.  Anybody want to bet whether the drivers might hike fares (a fuel surcharge) with or without approval from the government?

Beach-to-Beach swim this weekend

The fourth annual island Power Swim is scheduled for 8 a.m., Sunday, May 27. 

Organized by the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park, there are four races including three contests for solo swimmers and one for a relay team.  The individual
courses range from one to three-and-a-half miles, while the three-person relay is three-and-a-half miles.  All begin at Maho Bay. The long route ends at Hawksnest Bay.Map05_2

In a practice swim two weeks ago, the nationally ranked swimmer Jack Zakim finished first on a Maho to Trunk Bay course.  Another practice was scheduled over the past weekend.

"The event has become part of the list of challenging sporting events inn the Virgin Islands," said Joe Kessler, president of the Friends. "It features the incredible waters and beaches of the Park."

Sponsors of the Friends fund raiser this year include Alfredo’s landscaping, Mongoose Junction, American Paradise Realty, St. John Insurance, Skinny Legs, the Tap Room, Starfish Market and St. John Rotary.

Winners in the various competition categories will get their awards during an end-of-day barbecue at Oppenheimer Beach. There is more information online at www.friendsvinp.org/swim.

Tourism gods have been listening


The V.I. government is promising that arriving at the St. Thomas airport is going to be less stressful and more welcoming.  The new commissioner of Tourism, Beverly Nicholson Doty, told a travel industry publication one of her top initiatives will be to improve the "arrival experience at the airport and all ports of entry."

The gauntlet of porters, sometimes-working baggage belts, and taxi drivers was the major complaint of News of St. John readers reacting to comments by Berkeley Young of Randall Travel Marketing about how tourists are treated. (Part one, Part two).

Doty also told Travel Weekly she intends to redesign the territory’s USVItourism.vi Web site.  She has also launched a new one, admittedly with not much to it, at usvi-ideas.com/.  She’s encouraging people to comment and offer ideas how the islands’ tourism business can improve.

Travel consultant faults VI tourism

The VI tourist economy is not managed to deliver a good vacation experience, according to Berkeley Young of Randall Travel Management

The consultant who advises resort areas and resorts how to improve conducted a workshop for local business people in which he urged them to make it easier for travelers to find out what’s going on and how to take advantage of it. Young said the tourist economy is organized for the convenience of its employees, like cab drivers, not visiors.

"People are willing to give you their money, but no one wants to take
it," Young said as he encouraged resorts and even villa owners to
deliver more services, even if at higher prices.

In the second part of an audio interview which you can hear on your PC, Young explains why St. John’s eco-friendly image makes it a high-demand tourist destination.

Would you be willing to pay more for your villa rental if you were a concierge met you at the airport, helped you get to St. John, had the villa stock with foods you’d ordered, and had arranged your first three days of activities, per your request? Higher price, greater comfort?  Good deal/bad deal? Comment here.


Listen to the second part of our conversation with travel consultant Berkeley Young.

You can also download or hear the program by clicking here.

Listen to the first part of  Young’s interview here.

Subscribe to News of St. John’s weekly podcast at the Apple iTunes Music Store and search for "news of st. john,"
or copy "http://fbarnako.libsyn.com/rss" and paste it into the "Subscribe" field under the iTunes software’s "Advanced" tab.  You can also use
that link to subscribe with other podcatching software.  If you’re having
a problem, e-mail: [email protected].

St. John – getting there is not half the fun

St. John may not be able to profit from the next big trend in tourism – "green vacationing."  It’s got the beaches, eco-tours, and an unspoiled environment.  But it also has hassles today’s travelers will not put up with. The biggest obstacle, says a nationally known travel industry consultant, is getting to the island.

"It’s all about facilitation," explained Berkeley Young of Randall Travel Marketing.  "From the time people get off the plane in St. Thomas at the airport, they are frustrated.

"There’s no proper greeting. They’re given a urine cup’s portion of punch. There’s nobody asking, ‘How can we help you?’  They have to fight taxicabs.  It’s a horrible experience," Young said.

While veteran travelers will endure the challenges of getting to Red Hook, onto a ferry, and finding their villa or resort greeter in Cruz Bay, Young warns many will not.  “They get on island and they’re irritated and angry.”

"When people come to these islands, they are desperate for escape.  They want someone to do it all for them," Young said. He warns that cruise ships are strong competition for tourists’ dollars. The industry has made it simple.  You make a phone call, they’ll book your airline ticket, greet you at the airport, they’ll handle your bags, put them in your cabin.

He urged the island’s Tourism Commissioner to work with hotels, restaurants, and villa managers to work together to improve the experience for travelers.

How do you think St. John could be more accommodating to visitors?  Offer some advice here.


Listen to the first part of our conversation with travel consultant Berkeley Young.

Click the play button below.

You can also download or hear the file by clicking here.

Subscribe to News of St. John’s weekly podcast at the Apple iTunes Music Store and search for "news of st. john,"
or copy "http://fbarnako.libsyn.com/rss" and paste it into the "Subscribe" field under the iTunes software’s "Advanced" tab.  You can also use
that link to subscribe with other podcatching software.  If you’re having
a problem, e-mail: [email protected].

18th century plantation found

A plantation discovered in 1981, and then forgotten, has been found again by archaeologist Ken Wild and Amber Davis of the VI Cultural Resources Management Team. The location was not revealed. 

Writing on the team’s blog, Davis said, "The plantation consists of three structures – the main residence, the enslaved quarters and the warehouse."  (The picture is from their blog.) Davis and Wild found ceramic fragments near the site of a type known to be in use 375 years ago.

The plantation was included on a St. John map prepared by Peter Lotharius Oxholm in 1780. In 1981, Barbara Johnson found the site, but then it was forgotten, Davis reported. Understandably, she and Wild were pleased with their find – especially since they’d spent an entire day chopping catch and keep and cutting cacti in their search.  The celebrated with a burger at Skinny’s.

Here’s an Oxholm map on the St. John Historical Society’s Web site.  Very interesting.

Bet you can’t sit on just one

Tom Clifton
is an artist from Memphis who’s
also adopting St. John as a place to live.  He also has an exhibit
opening on St. John this week at Best of Both Worlds at Mongtoose Junction. 

He and his second-best friend (after his dog), Pat, have been
building Amansala.  They have been chronicling the project in a blog, following in the keystrokes
of Bongo Bongo’s Russ and Jeff.

The latest posting on Amansala includes this great map of the island’s beaches.
Click on this image for a larger graphic and see how many beaches you’ve
been to.  Start making a list of "Beaches to Do" for the next trip.