ST. THOMAS — In a move that is expected to ease the dense traffic experienced during cruise ship days in St. Thomas, Department of Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty and Governor Kenneth Mapp, announced recently that water transportation ferrying cruise ship passengers from both the West Indian Company (WICO) dock and the Austin “Babe” Monsanto Marine Terminal dock in Crown Bay — an action that has been sought for years but never came to fruition — will commence in November.
The announcement, made during a press conference held at Government House on St. Croix earlier this month, represents a major development in the territory’s main cruise tourism destination, Charlotte Amalie, and has been hailed by top cruise ship officials as a game changer for the territory.
Carlos Torres de Navarra, who serves as the vice president of commercial port operations at Carnival Cruise Line, spoke of the new opportunities tied into water transportation while explaining the benefits of the offering. “If you have a great product which is the water, being able to showcase that [Charlotte Amalie] harbor to folks getting off that cruise ship, and to be able to show everything that is able to be seen from the water, is just amazing what it’s going to do for what people see when they view St. Thomas,” he said.
Mr. de Navarra added, “More importantly, it’s also going to help the economic impact. You’re going to have not only people spending more at the shops because they could get to the shops quicker, the taxi drivers will be able to get more pickups from the cruise ships to downtown, [and] you will have more frequency and hopefully less traffic on the road. So all of that culminates into what will be a robust improvement in the product.”
Mrs. Nicholson-Doty said the Department of Public Works along with the Department of Property and Procurement went through the bidding cycle, and that negotiations, two weeks ago, were in the final stages. She said water transportation will start in November, and listed the initial stops as WICO, two stops on the St. Thomas waterfront which will service both east and west of the Main Street area, and Crown Bay. Mrs. Nicholson-Doty said the provider of the water transportation will start with two vessels, one of which was used to test the routes.
“One of the things that we’re extremely excited about is that the water transportation gives an incredible opportunity to speak about our harbor, which is rich in heritage, culture and history,” the Tourism commissioner said. The announcement was also praised by Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association President Michelle Paige.
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