Downtown ferry service cut in half

Map St. John's ferry companies will cut the number of round trips from Cruz Bay to Charlotte Amalie to three for the winter. Transportation Services and Varlack Ventures complain that the previous schedule of six runs a day was unprofitable.

The Public Service Commission gave the operators the OK to reduce the service "to give more financial stability to the struggling ferry companies," the Virgin Islands Daily News said in its report of the PSC meeting.  Read the full story here.

The new schedule means that if you have a flight between 9 a.m. and 3
p.m., and want to take the STT-CA ferry, you better be on the 8:45 a.m boat.  Otherwise, it's to Red Hook you'll go.

And this may not be the last cut.  The St. John Source reported that the chairman of the Public Service Commission said the cutback in ferry runs downtown "would give the PSC enough passenger data to determine whether the downtown run should me … possibly eliminated."  Read the Source report here.

The Red Hook-Charlotte Amalie ferry ride is one way to avoid the cacophony, jostling and cattle-car-like taxi-to-the-airport experience that you get taking the Red Hook ferry. (Of course, it also means you will miss out on hearing the drivers' loud rap music or inhaling his 'pine scented air freshener,' too.)

The winter schedule for the ferry ride around the east end of St Thomas to downtown C.A. has boats leaving Cruz Bay at 8:45 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 3:35 p.m.  Ferries from Charlotte Amalie to St. Thomas are scheduled to leave at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Treasure Map to island’s riches

Logo-best Visitors to St. John will be able to explore the island and win prizes at the same time, early in the New Year thanks to the St. John Treasure Map & Guide.

The map will be distributed free at the Red Hook and Cruz Bay ferry docks, and other places on the island, beginning in January.  The map divides the island into five areas and directs people to various sites and activities.

"Each territory has its own unique adventure with clues to find, questions to answer and activities to complete," explains the map's Web site.  "These tours  involve not just site seeing but interaction with the island's hot spots, restaurants and shops, historic sites, beaches and hide-aways."

Visitors will be invited to go online to the map's Web site (http://islandtreasuremaps.com/), upload their answers and comments, and have the opportunity to win the "Motherload", a free trip to St. John.

The map is being developed by Jennifer Knowles-Donnelly, co-owner of the Jolly Dog stores, and a partner.  She describes the map as a way for merchants to get people to come into their stores and get the answers to the map's questions.  Think of it as a scavenger hunt.

Why no Pond Bay photos for a while

Pondbay Matt and Howard are back from Boston but they don't plan to resume posting weekly photos of the Pond Bay project, taken from their house.  The reason – well, there's not much progress being made. 

"For a time, we were regularly posting updated pictures of the Pond Bay development at Chocolate Hole," they wrote on their blog," St. John Talk. "However, for the past month or so, development has halted.  Rumors suggest funding has dried up.  Therefore, it seems a bit silly to continue to upload pictures while no changes are taking place. Therefore, until development resumes, we will halt the Pond Bay updates."

The Inquiring Iguana hears that there's a dispute between the Pond Bay developer and the money folks, a German bank.  Earlier plans to open the project in time for Christmas  seem overly-optimistic, maybe by next summer.

An evening of wine, music, and food on the beach

FlavAd1 The island's food and wine event of the year is set for Saturday night at the Westin Resort.

As many as 325 people are expected at the event, Flavors, to taste, munch, sip, and savor the best the island's many chefs and restaurants have to offer. 

"This is high scale dining not a free food buffet frenzy or cocktail party," said Kati Steinborn, owner of Katilady Events and chairman of the Rotary Club-sponsored event.

The caterers and restaurants will be competing to make the Best Overall Presentation, and serve the best Appetizer, Entree and Dessert.  Judges include the Virgin Islands Chef of the Year as well as two winners from the Taste of St. Croix. Party goers will also have a voice in the selections through a silent ballot. 

Steinborn had a caution for the food vendors. "While the crowd gets a little nuts when word gets around that someone is serving filet mignon, if that filet is not delicious the crowd knows it," she said. "Do something that sounds intriguing and is absolutely delicious and you will win the crowd."

Proceeds from Flavors go to St. John Rotary's scholarships and community activities.  The goal is $35,000. Flavors begins at 6:30pm.  Tickets are $100 at the door.  Music for the dining and dancing will be provided by Inner Visions.

If you're visiting the island and want to have a great evening, taste the best there is and meet some real St. Johnians, go to Flavors.  You'll get a real taste of the island.

Guy Benjamin in Cruz Bay

Guy_Benjamin_Book The island's grand old man, Guy Benjamin, is doing a book signing.

The 96-year-old author has overseen a reprinting of Me and My Beloved Virgin.

The St. John Source's Lynda Lohr says Benjamin will be at the Friends of the Park store at Mongoose Junction Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Photo Safari with Steve Simonsen

Island photographer Steve Simonsen is planning a photowalk this winter.  E-mail Janet Simonsen for details on the Dec. 12th event. 

PS, look for Steve in a New York Times feature about island camping next month, too.

Starfish 7% more expensive in food price survey

The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs said its October sampling of food prices at island stores showed Dolphin Market as the low price leader.  Pine Peace came in second, with the market basket 1% less expensive. Starfish Market was the most expensive, with prices 7% higher than Dolphin.

The Virgin Islands Daily News has more on the report here.

Virgin Islands are for Hooters and Housewives

Hooters There may be some hot times on St. Thomas and St. John in the next few days, and not just because the temperatures are in the mid-80's.

The Hooters restaurant chain is bringing "16 of the most gorgeous Hooters girls from around the world" to compete in a TV taping to find the Hooters Dream Girl

They'll be doing some modeling assignments, "as well as participating in various competitive events around the islands," according to a news release.

It could mean they'll visit St. John.  (Wouldn't be the first time.  See our story from 2007 at http://barnako.typepad.com/news_of_st_john_usvi/2007/03/hooters_does_st.html.

Meanwhile, a rumor that another reality TV show will use the island as a backdrop has ginned up reaction at the Virgin-Islands-On-Line forum

"Lock the doors! The tacky invasion is about to start," said one correspondent on hearing that this weekend the Real Housewives of New York show may be arriving.  While there's no official confirmation from the producers, that hasn't stopped people from commenting.

Iowaguy said, "I'm trying to envision the Real Housewives at Larry's Landing or the Beach Bar–would love to be there." St. John Ruth pointed out that the weather can be a factor, saying "If they were here today it will be pretty interesting. I think we had a monsoon this morning and then a pretty dreary day. Not exactly bikini weather."

Meat at Maho

Pavilion Maho Bay Campground has a great reputation as being earth-friendly and environmentally responsible. 

So, the Inquiring Iguana is only mildly amused to hear that the eco-resort's restaurant has resumed its Friday night specials featuring beef(!) and prime rib.  Dinner is served at the Pavilion restaurant from 5:30 p.m. (Early Birds?) to 7:30 p.m.

The end-of-the-week hunk of beef comes with veggies and a salad.  There are at least three other entrees also on the menu, priced from $17 to $23.  Here's a link to the nightly specials: http://www.maho.org/MealsMenu.cfm

For dessert, you might like to browse the Maho Bay Art Center.  It features works in glass, clay, and textiles, with an emphasis on recycled materials.  It seems there's always a sale going on, too. The Art Center's Web site is http://www.maho.org/TTAC.cfm

Read a review of the Pavilion at IgoUgo. "We arrived just in time for dinner and a sunset that set the magical ambiance for the remaining of our stay," wrote the post by Jose Kevo.