Friday, October 15, 2010

Ferry Ride

When traveling to or from Tortola, most people fly through Cyril E. King International Airport on St. Thomas (STT) and then take the ferry between St. Thomas and Tortola. Although there is an airport on Tortola, Beef Island International Aiport (BIS), I find that the price difference to fly through St. Thomas generally makes the ferry ride worthwhile.

As a result, on Sunday morning, I caught the 8:45 a.m. ferry from Road Town to Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, in order to be on time for my 1:35 p.m. flight from STT.

Many different ferry companies operate between Road Town and Charlotte Amalie, but HB and I have become loyal customers of Smith's Fast Ferry. Smith's is the only company that does not use catamarans; but we find that the standard, v-bottom boats they use actually cause us less seasickness than the cats do.

We also love riding a boat named the "Bomba Charger" every time we go to or from St. Thomas.

The interior is nearly as charming, with its rows of old airline seats bolted to the floor, and the tiny TV screen that is hardly visible, even on the rare occasions it is working.

The ride from Road Town to Charlotte Amalie takes about an hour, but the boat stays fairly close to the islands (Tortola, St. John, and St. Thomas) so there is plenty of scenery and activity to watch.

Nanny Cay Marina -- the majority of the boats constituting that forest of masts are in dry dock.

Smith's almost always stops in West End, Tortola, as well, which means the journey with them is sometimes a few minutes longer than with other ferry companies, but I kind of like the way it breaks up the trip.

The Jolly Roger Inn is a West End institution, and constitutes the end of the road -- the farthest west you can travel on Tortola.

This cliffside house on St. Thomas near Charlotte Amalie never fails to stun.

The Edward Wilmoth Blyden IV Ferry Terminal in Charlotte Amalie also contains US Customs and Immigration. Although the actual transit is only an hour, it is advisable to plan at least two hours between departing Road Town and emerging into Charlotte Amalie from the ferry terminal, given the customs-related delays that often occur. I was fortunate on Sunday to pass through customs fairly quickly, and arrive at the airport in plenty of time to catch my flight to JFK. 

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