Aug. 27, 2001 — After years of nonexistent — or at best, sketchy — fast ferry service between St. Croix and St. Thomas, the coming winter season will see two vessels plying the water between the islands.
Along with Boston Harbor Cruises, which conducted a much-ballyhooed month-long trial run earlier this year, St. Croix-based Crucian Express Inc. is set to begin running its Norwegian-built fast ferry on a year-round basis Dec. 1.
Boston Harbor is proposing to operate the queen of its fleet, the Salacia, during the height of the high season — December through April — each year. That, said Jolene Wilson Glah, who with her husband, Thomas Grogaard, will run Crucian Express, is what will set the two operations apart. Glah and Grogaard are both lawyers who have based their businesses on St. Croix.
Glah said Boston Harbor's choice to operate just during the high season shows it is driven only by profit. Crucian Express will not only cater to business travelers and tourists, but to families and civic groups that need inexpensive inter-island travel — year round, Glah said.
"Those are the kind of things that are necessary to supply the real interaction between the islands. I think people on both islands, and St. John, really miss out on a lot," she said. "I think its very important for people to know my husband and I came to [St. Croix] and fell in love with it. The ferry service is really the vehicle to achieve our goal of doing what we wanted to do for the island."
Crucian Express will run its so-far-unnamed 140-foot, 200-passenger catamaran — which will get a moniker through a contest — twice a day Monday through Friday and three trips a day Friday through Sunday. Tickets will be $50 round trip for the approximately hour-and-a-half crossing.
And for those travelers who get queasy just looking at a boat, Glah said Crucian Expresss vessel will be able to smooth out the notorious seas found on the 40-plus mile crossing between St. Croix and St. Thomas.
"The boat has been in operation in the North Sea," Glah said. "It is designed to handle seas like those between St. Croix and St. Thomas, similar to [Boston Harbors] Salacia."
Glah said the Crucian Express ferry will initially have a captain from Norway to guide the company through its transition. The boat is expected to arrive in the territory around Nov. 1.
"We are committed to this," Glah said. "We are taking a lot of risk."