Feb. 2, 2006 – In what may be the economic boost that many St. Croix residents have been waiting for, Robert C. Siebengartner, managing partner and majority owner of Island Lynx, announced Thursday that the Lynx Cat would begin serving the Virgin Islands beginning on Feb. 15. The ferry will provide another mode of transportation to the big island for off-island travelers in time for AgriFest 2006 and Sunset Jazz .
That was good news for members of FEDA, who called a press conference to give information on new initiatives connected with the monthly Sunset Jazz concert. (See "Sunset Jazz Could go National"), Siebengartner, who was unable to attend the press conference in person, relayed the information via speakerphone.
AgriFest 2006 opening ceremonies are scheduled for 1 p.m., Friday, Feb. 17, at the Rudolph Schulterbrandt Agricultural Fairgrounds in Estate Lower Love, Frederiksted.
The monthly Sunset Jazz concert begins at 5:30 p.m. on the public beach in Frederiksted town.
"This is the new year-round ferry service," Siebengartner said. "There have been a lot of rumors out there but we have invested 1.5 million in the two vessels and will be investing 1 million more. That's a sizable commitment. We are here for the long hall."
The boat will leave New Jersey where it is taking on fuel and should arrive in the territory on Feb. 8th or 9th, Siebengartner said. He added that the boat has passed all its U.S. Coast Guard regulations.
When Island Lynx Ferry Company announced in August its plans to start ferry service between St. Thomas and St. Croix its target date for operation was November. In December the company issued a press release stating the new target date was Feb. 2006. Siebengartner apologized Thursday for the delay in the start up. He said he appreciated the patience shown by residents.
The M/V Quelbe is a U.S. built vessel with a U.S. flag and a U.S. crew "mostly from the Virgin Islands," according to Siebengartner who outlined the President's weekend start up service schedule.
The ferry is scheduled to depart from St. Thomas on Friday, Feb. 17 at 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. This will allow passengers from St. Thomas to arrive in St Croix in time for the Agrifair's opening ceremony at noon and other passengers to arrive in time for Sunset Jazz which begins at 5:30 p.m. The boat will return to St. Thomas at 8:30 p.m. Siebengartner said the boat is scheduled to dock at Gallows Bay in Christiansted but he would try to arrange with the Port Authority to have the boat depart from Frederiksted on Friday.
Round trip fares are $78 for adults, $73 for senior citizens, $68 for children aged 3 to 11 and students with an ID, and $28 for children less than 3 years. Groups of ten or more traveling together receive a 15 percent discount. Passengers can purchase advance tickets beginning Feb. 8.
The ferry has a capacity of 290 passengers with a crew of ten. It runs at a speed of 30 knots.
Due to the anticipated high demand, Siebengartner said reservations are encouraged and tickets will be sold based on specific departure and return times to avoid over-selling.
Passengers can call 642-9454 or 713-LYNX for tickets.
"It's in your best interest to book and buy early," Siebengartner said.
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