If you have been following along, you have probably seen that the passenger ferry has been operating on limited hours since the beginning of the pandemic last spring. In recent months, since the re-opening to tourism, reports of the ferries being packed have been circulating. Well, in the spirit of social distancing, the passenger ferry will be operating with more extended hours. Additionally, a new online ticketing system will help to ease your traveling minds.
First off, the new schedule is as follows:
The weekday schedule is looking pretty close to the normal hourly departure with the exception of 2PM, 6PM and 8PM. Monday through Friday, the departures are on the hour outside of these exclusions. Another adjustment was to add the later time. Previously, the latest departure from Cruz Bay was 9PM. The addition of the 10PM departure will be super helpful for local restaurants who have St. Thomas residents working for them. Staff members of St. John businesses who reside on St. Thomas have been forced to leave their place of employment by 8:45 each night in order to catch the 9 home. Additionally, those of you arriving on later flights will now have a 9:30 PM ferry to catch with the extended hours.
The Inter Island Boat Services Crown Bay Ferry is currently operating as well. Through mid-November, they are picking up on St. John at 11AM and St. Thomas at 4PM. Starting November 14th, the scheduled times are 11AM and 4PM from the creek in Cruz Bay (Across the street from Hercules at the international dock. There is a ticketing booth near the tents in the gated area.). From Crown Bay on St. Thomas the departure times are 3:30PM and 5:30PM.
PLEASE BE ADVISED: (And this is a big one). Masks are absolutely required on all public transport in the Virgin Islands. Even upstairs on the ferry and in open air taxis.
Whether we like it or not, that’s the law and businesses are in threat of losing their licensing for non-compliant guests. I hate to feel scoldy, but I really want you all to get your vacation off on the right foot by understanding the necessity of masks on transportation and in ALL businesses. Our community is SO grateful for all of our visitors, but a closed business gets no business at all. And, unfortunately, masks are the law right now. Thank you for your patience during the serious stuff 🙂
So, other new fun things! On November 1, the St. John Ferry Franchises teamed up to start a service called St. John Ticketing. You can now pre-purchase ferry tickets online for a small service fee. This will be huge during busy times of the year. We all know how crazy that ticket line can get! I’ll gladly pay a small fee in order to not wait in line.
The tickets are available for the two ferry companies, Varlack Ventures, Inc. (Cruz Bay-Red Hook passenger ferries) and Transportation Services of St. John, Inc. (Cruz Bay to Charlotte Amalie). The online ticketing options do not currently include the Inter Island Boat Services Crown Bay Ferry.
The downtown ferry has been out of operation since Irma and currently there is no availability through the website for these tickets. But hopefully that means that the downtown ferry will be operating again soon?
I spoke with a representative at Varlack to ask how the tickets would be scanned. Currently, you need to PRINT THE TICKETS IN ADVANCE. A physical copy will be required at the port for scanning. They are working towards a paperless system in the future though, so stay tuned!
If you have luggage, don’t forget to purchase a ticket for each bag as well. Those will also need to be printed to scan at the gate.
Another bonus to pre-purchasing tickets is that you DO NOT need to select the time of your ferry. You do select a date, but the ticket is valid for ten days past that date. So, if you’re traveling and aren’t sure what ferry you will be on, that’s okay. You can buy the ticket, skip the line and not worry about what time you arrive.