Good Morning! I had a few requests after yesterday’s post on ferry schedules for a similar post regarding the car barge. I always tell folks that the people ferry is pretty much the ONLY thing on St. John that is timely and reliable. The car barges, however, do not fall into that same category. It seems like, a lot of times, one of the barges is down for repairs, contracted out elsewhere or getting an inspection of some sort which really throws off the schedule for those of them that ARE running on a given day. So, a timely and accurate portrayal of what the car barge schedule looks like today, let alone over time, is a bit more difficult to tackle. But I’ll do my best with the disclaimer that these schedules, although sometimes very reliable, can also change on the daily.
Ok, for the car barges, there are three different companies:
- Love City Car Ferries- Grand Vic & Captain Vic
- Global Marine’s Tug Life- General II
- Big Red Barge Co.- Todd G. (The Big Red Barge)
All three of the companies go between the same ports on St. Thomas and St. John. And all three of them are $50 one way or $65 round trip. However, the round-trip tickets are not interchangeable between the three companies, so if you buy round trip, you need to plan to arrive at the port for your return AT LEAST 45 minutes prior to the departure time of the vessel to which you hold the ticket for.
Generally speaking, I almost always purchase a round-trip ticket because I use the car barge a couple of times a month and can utilize those return tickets at a later date if my timing doesn’t work out to get on the barge I have already paid for on the way home from St. Thomas. So, maybe I buy a round trip to get to St. Thomas on the Big Red Barge but get on the General II on my way home because it is more convenient. I’ll purchase another round-trip, knowing that I will be able to likely use one or both of those on my next trip to STT. So, I basically have an arsenal of backup, one-way ferry tickets in my car 🙂
For those of you traveling to and from St. John for a week of vacation, I might recommend buying the one-way tickets. That way, when you are heading back to St. Thomas for your flight, you can just get on the first available barge without the worry of a pre-purchased ticket. I pretty much stand by this in the realm of pre-purchasing tickets online as well. Don’t buy in advance…You never know if your flight or rental car will delay you and you’ll end up having to pay for whatever barge you can make it to if it is close to the end of the day!
Additionally, I ALWAYS tell folks not to rent a car on St. Thomas if you can avoid it. The car barges can be wildly unpredictable and that $20 per day that you’ll likely save by renting on St. Thomas vs. St. John flies out the window pretty quickly in the event of a missed flight or having to go back on the people ferry on the first day of your vacation because you missed the last barge upon arrival. I lean into this HARD for Saturday and Sunday arrivals…The barge dock is insane on busy check in days and big errand days for locals. Anyway…That’s my advice. Here is a complete list of St. John rental car agencies for your convenience!
To my point, this comment JUST came in from a reader as I am writing this post:
We booked a last minute trip to Cruz for New Years Eve and all the jeeps on St John were sold out. No problem, just get a jeep on St Thomas and barge over…HOWEVER, make sure to get to the barge 30-45 minutes early or you may not get on board. The 5:00 PM barge was full in Redhook when we arrived and we had to wait for the 6:00 PM. Going home, we were literally the last car they squeezed on the barge. People ferry is definitely the best way to go!
Thank you, Greg!
All three of the barge companies travel between the Urman Victor Fredericks Marine Terminal in Red Hook and the Theodore Eric Moorehead Marine Facility (Enighed Pond) on St. John.
The schedules as posted by each company are as follows.
Love City Car Ferries
I honestly think that this particular company does the best job of communicating changes to their departure schedules and status of the boats. You can check their blog for announcements about adjustments to the schedule or give them a call during business hours to check the status on the day you arrive (340-779-4000). You can also purchase tickets on their website in advance if you like. But, again, I have never done that myself and advise against it personally.
Big Red Barge Co.
The Big Red Barge has a Facebook page and they also do a pretty great job at updating the status of the barge. Bonus for this one…There’s a full-service bar on the top deck 😉
Global Marine’s Tug Life
The above schedule was posted on VINow.com as I couldn’t seem to find a website or Facebook page for the General II. Best to call to check the schedule if you plan to take this one (number in graphic above)!
A few other pointers…Follow Virgin Islands Port Authority on Facebook. They also do semi-regular updates about the status of the car barges. Additionally, if you live on island full- or part-time, join the St. John Car Barge schedule Facebook Group in order to stay up to date on daily barge activity as reported by residents making the traverse. Oh, and make sure you have cash to pay the barge fees as posted above and the $3 per vehicle port fee at the little kiosk at the entrance to the Red Hook barge dock!