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01-28-2013 11:12 PM
Re: St. Thomas to Tortola Ferry questions

I can't predict whether there may be future capacity issues if air service is cut back, but I'll second the suggestion to buy at the gate when you see which company has a boat ready to leave. And don't buy a round trip ticket, because that locks you in to the same company coming back.

Our return from Tortola was almost ruined by a boat that never showed up. There were no boats there yet when we arrived at Road Town Ferry Dock, but they were scheduled to leave at 9:30 (Native Sun), 9:45 (Fast Ferry?) and 10:00 (some third company). We bought tickets for the 9:30 one since it was first and the bag boy "guaranteed" it would get to STT first (lol - what a crock!), but that boat never showed up. After the 9:45 boat had left, and the 10:00 one had loaded all its passengers, they took pity on the remaining stranded people waiting for Native Son and accepted our tickets on their boat. So we got there without having to re-purchase more tickets. And I never did see the Native Son boat on the way to STT.

A couple more things others have not pointed out:

Don't assume that the first boat to leave will get there first. It's not so much the speed of the boat (in my 4 trips they all ran about 25 kts on my GPS), but mostly whether it makes an interim stop at West End or goes straight to the final destination. But good luck getting a straight answer if you ask about that! Most of your questions will result in "island double-talk" in response. Their accents get real thick when they don't want to answer your question.

Finally, at the Road Town ferry terminal, you will be swarmed by "baggage assistants" trying to take your luggage the second you get out of the taxi. They know that once they have your luggage you're locked into their boat. (Though I suspect they'd give it back to you if you demanded it.) Don't give your luggage to them until you've settled down and decided which boat you're buying tickets for. I do not believe that they're dishonest - they're just aggressively trying to get your business.
01-28-2013 07:07 PM
Re: St. Thomas to Tortola Ferry questions

At some point in March 2013, American Eagle will STOP flying into Tortola/ Beef Island AP. When this occurs, you may see lots more people making St. Thomas the connect point.

This will probably make an even bad situation worse.

I often use the ferry but hate them, VERY noisy and the smell of burned fuel is all over them. The only decent boats are the Cats but they are fewer than the old soon to be hulks that you will probably be forced to use.

I make it a point to pick up any Friends of mine who come down at Redhook. A nights "rest" at the marina's bars and Molly Malone's and the Love Shack make up for the delay in arriving.... but their trip is far nicer.... AND NO, I can not pick up a load of people i do not know.... I'll be in the Leewards by that time anyway
01-26-2013 05:11 PM
Re: St. Thomas to Tortola Ferry questions

Originally Posted by chucklesR View Post
Restaurant on the second floor is 'decent', the balcony view of the bay is refreshing at times - enjoy the wait.
It's called the Petite Pump Room. There are about 6 other restaurants about 200yds away in an area called Frenchtown. If you want options, walk straight out of the ferry dock towards the main road, turn left walk to the traffic signal adjacent to a Post Office, turn left again past McDonalds, you will then see a bunch of connected places to eat. Deli, Pie Whole pizza (75 Belgian Beers), Looney Bien (Mexican), Bella Blue, Hook Line Sinker, Betsy's...
01-24-2013 06:06 PM
Re: St. Thomas to Tortola Ferry questions

I've been there 5 times. The last time (two months ago) our later group got creative and asked some taxi guys for a recommendation for a private boat to take them to Tortola. 20 minutes later they were all in some local's boat with a one way charge that worked out to about $10 per person.

If you don't want to do that then I agree with the others about not purchasing in advance. There will be room. Just look online to see the schedules of the ferry companies. Don't buy a return ticket.
01-24-2013 05:31 PM
Re: St. Thomas to Tortola Ferry questions

Originally Posted by Tim R. View Post
Part of our group is scheduled to arrive at 12:30 and the rest of us 2pm. I think we will wait and not buy tickets in advance.

Thanks for all your advice.
Restaurant on the second floor is 'decent', the balcony view of the bay is refreshing at times - enjoy the wait.
01-24-2013 04:47 PM
Tim R.
Re: St. Thomas to Tortola Ferry questions

Part of our group is scheduled to arrive at 12:30 and the rest of us 2pm. I think we will wait and not buy tickets in advance.

Thanks for all your advice.
01-24-2013 04:46 PM
Re: St. Thomas to Tortola Ferry questions

If you're chartering from Sunsail, you can get a discount if you prepay. We spent the first night on St Thomas so no issues with missing the last ferry and getting stranded. As others have pointed out, there is always a risk of missing your non-refundable, prepaid ferry and having to pay again for a different ferry company. We had plenty of time -- flew in to STT on Thursday afternoon and ferried over to Tortola on Friday afternoon on the Roadtown Fast Ferry -- everything went very smoothly. I think the key is to just allow plenty of time. If you choose to prepay, make certain your Sunsail invoice reflects it and that you have a copy with you -- you won't have a physical ticket which some people have reported as causing difficulties. 'Island time' is real -- it's not complete chaos, but you need to allow time and have patience if you need to wait. Ferry departure times are '...ish', like 2:30ish, 4:00ish... All ferry schedules can be found here.
01-24-2013 03:38 PM
Re: St. Thomas to Tortola Ferry questions

Road Town Fast Ferry seems to have the nicer boats and has arrangements with most of the charter companies so you can buy combined taxi/ferry tickets which theoretically makes things easier BUT.... here is what I posted on a previous thread

Originally Posted by Geoff54 View Post
I’m a bit late in posting this but we also had technical problems with our American flight from Miami on May 5th (trend here?) and missed the 4:15 ferry along with a whole bunch of other folk. I called Fast Ferry and the 4:15 had left at 4:45. Although we could have caught the 9:00pm from Red Hook, someone called Native Son and, when they heard that there were a bunch of us (someone said forty but I think it was actually less), they held the 5 o’clock ferry until we all got there. So we all piled into taxi vans to Red Hook and the ferry actually left just after 6:00. Of course we “lost” the prepaid fare on Fast Ferry but at least we arrived at a reasonable time.
So I’ve changed my mind and think TQA has the best approach – next time I will take the timetables and phone numbers for all the ferries and just get on the next one.
01-24-2013 02:06 PM
Re: St. Thomas to Tortola Ferry questions

The ferry situation is getting worse, as mentioned some of the recent thread at traveltalk go into great detail.

- Never buy tickets in advance. Since the ferries tend to depart on "Island Time" and the ferry companies are in competition and won't honour each other's tickets you might have a ticket to ferry that will leave in an hour but could catch one leaving in 10 minutes - if you wish to pay for another ticket.

- The last ferry of the day is often timed so that you can't make it from a flight to STT
- Since the service is not reliable, you need to add at least one hour to your arrival time to make sure you don't miss a flight due to a ferry failing to depart or being overfilled.

- With 9 people Dohm's or other water taxi taxi services are a great option, but you will still be paying more than the normal ferry rates.
01-24-2013 01:59 PM
St. Thomas to Tortola Ferry questions

I've just showed up twice to the ferry dock. Once with 7 people and once with 10. Got on no problem both times. Both ways. Different ferrys each time. It just depended on who had a ferry ready to go and who got my bags first.
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