STJ>DIA – A Travel Report

STJ>DIA – A Travel Report

Good Morning, Good Morning!  I’m reporting to you live from Denver, Colorado this morning and have slightly recovered from an insanely long travel day on Monday.  Typically speaking, when I am venturing to anywhere west of the  Mississippi from St. John, I try to schedule a night or two in Florida or some other direct flight destination in order to break up the trek a bit.  But, this time we had things to do and people to see so we booked a Frontier flight ($150 one way!  What???) with a two hour layover in Orlando.  Let me tell you, every time I leave St. John the travel day has me STRESSED.  But, this time, after a lot of overplanning and preparing for the worst, everything (miraculously) went off without a hitch!

Ok, so, I’m just gonna kind of run through our day with you and hope that there are some tidbits that you can takeaway for use on your next trip out of Love City.  I’ll do the same when we head back down in a few weeks.  After ten years of semi-annual traverses back and forth between St. John and the states, I feel like I have a few things kind of figured out.  🙂

First, when I booked the flight, I reached out to a dear friend in Orlando, asking her to be “on call” for an airport pickup and an overnight stay on Monday the 29th.   Just in case we missed out connection because Frontier needed to make that pesky fuel stop in Puerto Rico, there was a pot hole on the runway in St. Thomas, someone forgot to show up for work, etc.  Unfortunately we did not get the anticipated catch up with old friends.  But, fortunately, we DID make it to our final destination as scheduled!

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I always hate leaving St. John, but absence makes the heart grow fonder and it is always GREAT to come home!

Second, about a week prior to our travel date, we started eyeing the radars and weather apps.  I have found that in times of extreme weather or uncertainty, the best thing you can do is get ahead of the airlines with your travel plans.  Calling the airline ahead of a missed connection can save you the trouble of dealing with a lengthy line of upset travelers at your connection airport.

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PS- there IS a tropical wave out there that is worthy of keeping an eye on. This prediction is from Windy and has it tracking to the north of us. But, all the same…

The night before, I booked the 11AM Crown Bay Ferry online for $20 per person for our 2:50PM flight (don’t forget your bag tickets for an extra $5 each!).  We showed up at the ticket counter at 10:45 after a quick bite at North Shore Deli and jumped on board to enjoy a leisurely and uniquely smooth boat ride from Cruz Bay to Crown Bay, near the St. Thomas airport.

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Everyting is sooo green right now! The water was super calm all the way to Crown Bay

We pondered grabbing a quick bloody at Tickle’s Dockside Pub, but decided against it as we were getting close to the three hour window before departure and I, personally, didn’t want to deal with the lengthy lines at customs and TSA as we neared the two hour window.

And I am so glad that we did!  Because we were checking bags, we DID have to wait at the Frontier ticket counter for about 30-45 minutes.  But, after that, we breezed through the bag drop off, customs AND the TSA line!  It took maybe 15-20 minutes in total.  But, the line was slowly building behind us as we moved through to the terminal.

Now, typically, I would grab a snack and a drink at Hibiscus Café while we waited out the two and a half hour window of time before departure.  But, this time I wanted to try something new.  We headed over to the duty free shop which now has a free rum tasting station, a bar with a ton of local beers, seltzers and liquors and a super cheery bar tender who was ready to deliver whenever we needed something.

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The bar in the Duty-Free shop is a great way to burn some hours – They offer STJ brewers, Leatherback and Mutiny beers, seltzers and liquors for a little local flavor!

We located an outlet on the floor behind us and began the charging of the phones and downloading of the movies for our upcoming seven hours of air travel and I ventured out to find some snacks 🙂  You can bring food from anywhere in the airport into the duty free bar to enjoy it with your beverages.

I went to the new Island Grind Café in the center of the terminal which is decorated colorfully and smells of rich coffee.  They had a great selection of sweet treats, coffee drinks, wine, beer, sandwiches and salads.  And, to my surprise, I spied some chicken and veggie roti as an option for my mid-day meal!  So, I went with the veggie and also purchased the trio of mini-muffins (carrot and banana).  All were absolutely delish!  The staff was friendly and efficient and I had my snacks in hand in under five minutes after ordering.

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I almost went crazy with ordering ALL of the sweets at Island Grind! It all looked SO GOOD!  Check out their menu at the link above.

I returned to the duty free bar where Teddy was waiting with our things and, true to the STT airport during these slower months of the year, ran into several friends from St. John.  After catching up and eating my lunch, we headed over to the gate and were on the plane in less than 15 minutes.  It was almost too easy.

I guess I just EXPECTED the announcement of an unplanned San Juan stop.  But no!  We would be directly on our way to Orlando.  There was some type of issue with the balance of weight on the plane that delayed our flight by maybe ten minutes.  But we still arrived at our destination somewhat earlier than expected.  Three hours to Orlando.  A two hour layover.  And then four hours to Denver…

So, we are feeling pretty fortunate for an unexpectedly pleasant and seamless travel day from the middle of the ocean to the top of the Rockies.  It’s kind of a unicorn, ya know?  🙂

You’ll be hearing from Katie on St. John over the next week or so while I enjoy some music and time with family and friends.  So, I hope that you all have a safe and lovely Labor Day holiday!

9 thoughts on “STJ>DIA – A Travel Report”

  1. Isn’t it delightful when travel days are relatively stress free? Glad you got through without a hitch and great to know the airport has been completed(?) since 2018 when we were there last. The duty free was still under construction by then and we had to wait the two-ish hours with nothing to do but people watch, which is always fun, too!

    And the Crown Bay ferry is running too, yay! As entertaining as it is to take the taxi to Red Hook, I haven’t been on the Crown Bay since 2005. So, if you purchase your tix online, you get to skirt the line at Cruz Bay, right? Is it obvious where to go if you do this, so you don’t inadvertently get stuck with the masses?

    And do you not have Global Entry for TSA and Customs? We have TSA Precheck, but maybe it’s not an option down there?

    Have a blast in Denver, I’m waving from down here in Vegas!

    • Hi! The Crown Bay ferry is operated by Inter Island Services and they are located at the National Park dock nearer to Mongoose so no confusion with the Red Hook ferry and its passengers. There’s a big white tent with seating, you can’t miss it. There is a TSA precheck line once you get through customs. It was really nice seeing all of the new food and drink options in the STT airport completed on our most recent trip in July.

  2. Hey, can Katie update us on the seaweed situation around the USVI? There was a very damaging feature story this Wednesday today on ABC’s Good Morning America. They had a rep on the water and shore of the Ritz Carleton on St. Thomas.

  3. Would like to hear your reaction to ABC news reporting on all the seaweed rolling onto the beaches. The report we saw was from St Thomas. We have seen the floating seaweed on ferry to St. John but have not heard of it washing onto north shore beaches. Hope this doesn’t continue but I’m sure it’s climate change related.

  4. When we were there a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t see any seaweed on any beaches, and we went to Salt Pond, Hawksnest, Cinnamon, Trunk, Maho & Francis.

    As for our departure, we got there ~2 hours early (no bags to check, TSA pre), and there was no line at all at customs – we walked right up! TSA was probably a 15 minute wait. It was the smoothest I have ever seen it. Glad your trip was drama free!

  5. Nice that the Crown Bay ferry is running again. Sonic Charters will start running private water taxi service beginning this winter for private, one-way transfers including taxi service from the airport to Crown Bay and Red Hook on their 23-passenger custom wave piercing water taxi to cater to St John guests looking for a more seamless travel day too!

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