Dec. 9, 2002 – With the arrival this weekend of Boston Harbor Cruises' fast ferry Salacia, now back for its second season of toting travelers between St. Croix and St. Thomas, the ferry wars are about to commence.
The Salacia is to begin its schedule on Tuesday.
Its challenger, St. Croix-based Mermaid Fast Ferries' Calypso I, has been out of commission since Nov. 17, but owner Chris Elliot said the vessel should be on the water again Wednesday.
Because of congestion due to construction work at the Gallows Bay dock, only one passenger-boarding ramp is available. Elliot said representatives of both ferry firms met with Port Authority officials to work out arrival and departure schedules that will allow both ferries to make their daily trips without conflict.
The $2.6 million dock construction project is supposed to be completed in mid-January, according to contractor Patrick Vivot of 3V Construction. A Friday V.I. Daily News article quoted him as saying the pier demolition and reconstruction work is on schedule.
But Elliot was skeptical. "Realistically, it will probably be the first of April before it's finished, as far as it being totally completed and usable," he said.
He said Calypso I went into dry dock in Puerto Rico last month to have its motion-dampening system repaired and its bottom painted. He said when the U.S. Coast Guard inspectors came aboard to check those repairs, they discovered a glitch in the radar. Repairs are completed, he said, and the company is awaiting the Coast Guard's go-ahead.
Mermaid missed the potentially lucrative Thanksgiving holiday because of the problems, but Elliot said he is hoping for a good Christmas season. This year's 50th Crucian Festival promises to draw crowds from St. Thomas and St. John for the jubilee celebration.
"Our whole reason for doing this is to promote interaction between the islands year 'round," Elliot said.
Until May, Mermaid's 357-passenger Calypso I will be competing with Boston Harbor Cruises' 600-passenger Salacia for business. The Salacia will make three daily trips between the islands. Both vessels offer food, entertainment and air conditioning.
Aboard the Calypso I, round-trip fares are $50 for adults and $40 for children ages 3-12 on the Ensign deck. On the Admiral deck, it's $65 for everyone, and the price includes a light meal and beverage each way.
On the Salacia, the round-trip fares are $60 for adults and $50 for children ages 3-12.
On both vessels, children under 3 ride free.
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