Passengers arrive on the Loredon Boynes Ferry Dock in Cruz Bay Thursday afternoon on July 3, above.
The limited companionway space on the new ferries leaves a small area for baggage which has operators concerned about passenger safety issues — and using plush passenger seats on the new inter-island ferries for excess baggage.
CRUZ BAY-RED HOOK — At least one of the new inter-island passenger ferries was in continuous operation through the 2014 St. John Festival after franchisee Transportation Services put the Cruz Bay 1 into operation on July 3, Emancipation Day.
“They’re great; the seats are very comfortable,” said one early rider of the plush padded airplane-style seats of the new rides.
After more than eight months in the territory, the deep blue, multi-hull ferries went into operation on the regular route between Cruz Bay, St. John, and Red Hook, St. Thomas, during the height of July 4 St. John Festival.
The Cruz Bay 1 was still shuttling festival-goers between the two islands on Saturday night, July 5.
Co-franchisee Varlack Ventures operated its VITRAN ferry Red Hook 1 sporadically through the week as the island’s two ferry companies integrated the new vessels into their fleets after months of negotiations with the V.I. Department of Public Works, the owner of the ferries.
“We’ll see how the people like them,” said Varlack Ventures’ Delrise Varlack, “and the luggage space.”
Uniformed crew members seated passengers, filling nearly every interior seat on the Saturday night, July 6, run — the last night of full searches of all passengers and belongings as part of a festival-long security screening in Red Hook.
On board, passengers were treated to plush, high-backed seating in the paneled interior with a half-dozen flat screen televisions — repeating the beginning of the same movie during both 10-or-so minute rides in a round trip from Cruz Bay to Red Hook.
The hard plastic bench-style seat on the exterior upper deck, on the other hand, lacked the cushioning on the exterior benches of some of the old ferries.