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Thursday, February 2, 2023


Nov. 20, 2001 – Amid much horn honking and high fives from passing motorists, the Boston Harbor Cruises fast ferry Salacia tied up at the Charlotte Amalie waterfront around noon Tuesday. "Wow, what a welcome!" said a crew member standing by as a crane offloaded ramping equipment.
The Salacia, now called the Virgin Islands Fast Ferry, will start service Friday between St. Thomas and St. Croix that is to continue through May of 2002. Kevin Matthews, BHC director of operations, said he is looking forward to the season. Gazing at the near perfectly calm harbor under an 80 degree sun, he said, "We're really happy to be here."
He noted that he had a choice, having received a lucrative offer from New York for the Salacia's services. "But I made a commitment, and we're here," he said. "It's because of the Port Authority. You've got to give them credit. They really worked for us."
The ferry tested the territory's physical and economic waters last April with a test run that paved the way for the service about to begin.
The Port Authority board agreed to waive the per-passenger tax of $5.70 for the ferry's first year of service and then to phase it in over the next two years. Because of this, Matthews said, the basic round-trip fare for residents will be $60. "I'd said $65 earlier, but we were able to lower it," he said.
He added that in the aftermath of Sept. 11, "It's going to be a tough year, but that's everywhere."
The waterfront by the Edward Wilmouth Blyden Terminal was alive with activity Tuesday, as passersby stopped to watch the ramp sections being lowered from the ferry onto the apron with an enormous crane. From the April test period, "The only complaints we had," Matthews said, were "about the gangplank we used … People didn't feel comfortable on it; so, we have a whole new ramping system."
He said BHC invested about $25,000 for two sets of ramping, one for each island.
Another new feature, he said, is ticket office in the Blyden Terminal where the Tortola boats leave. In April, passengers bought their tickets on board.
The amenities on board are the same, Matthews said: a bar, a galley and television. The $10 million Salacia seats 600, and the trip between the St. Thomas waterfront and Gallows Bay on St. Croix takes one hour and 15 minutes. The phone is 719-0099, and BHC's website is fastferry.com.
The standard fares for a resident are $60 round trip and $35 one way. For children 3 to 12, the rates are $30 round trip and $27 one way. Children under 3 years old ride free. For non-residents, the full fare is $75 round trip and $42 one way; for non-residents 3 to 12, it's $65 round trip and $37 one way.
Monday through Friday, the ferry departs St. Croix at 7 a.m., 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. It leaves St. Thomas at 9 a.m, 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, it leaves St. Croix at 8 a.m., noon and 4:30 p.m. It departs St. Thomas at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Another fast ferry company, St. Croix's Crucian Express, is scheduled to begin running a Norwegian-built vessel on a year-round basis Dec. 1. The 140-foot, 200-passenger catamaran is expected to make two round-trips a day on weekdays and three on weekends. Tickets will be $50 round trip and the crossing will take about an hour and a half, according to Crucian Express management.

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