Adrian Loveridge Column – Overdue Ferry Service

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

I noticed that our media recently yet again highlighted the ‘possibility’ of  the introduction of a ferry service between the southern Caribbean islands. For so many reasons the idea makes perfect sense, including the ability of transporting both goods and people more economically from island to island.  A classic example for me is on my various visits to Dominica, it’s still difficult to accept that during certain periods of the year, tens of thousands of mangoes are falling to and rotting on the ground, while we still pay a premium price locally.

With our own tourism industry, especially with the current relentless trend towards more and more all-inclusive hotels practice of importing hundreds of refrigerated containers monthly, many of which may not contribute any tax revenue, then this is an issue ‘we’ finally have to address.

While the concept of a regional ferry service is very desirable, I cannot see that our, or any bordering Government, is going to come up with the capital required to purchase and operate any number of purpose -built or adapted vessels, so could the private sector and speculative investors be tempted? Perhaps, in the case of Barbados, the much vaunted possibility of a Speightstown port, to primarily service the smaller cruise ships.

Could this be a partial key?

Of course, if you are going to add additional, customs, immigration and security for such a facility, then this would certainly help reduce part of a ferry start-up costs.

From all indications, our current Prime Minister, is a great advocate for the idea, having made the following statement to a previous CARICOM Heads of Government conference in Jamaica – To get the full benefit of our common space in the movement of people, cargo and vehicles, renewed and focused leadership is also called for to translate the much-studied inter-island ferry service from concept to reality. To move beyond talk and to actively encourage investment by our private sector to unlock new categories of travellers’, she said.

Looking back to previous writings, I came across one of my articles which was featured in the 2nd August 2005 edition of the informative British travel trade publication, TravelMole, calling attention to the then soon to be launched (November 2005) of easyCruise, a converted passenger ship which offered simple cabin accommodation to St. Lucia, St. Vincent and other nearby islands.

It provided not only transportation, but inexpensive overnight lodging.

The service operated for several months before EasyCruise moved the first of two ships to St. Maarten.  When I asked the owner, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, (born to a wealthy ship -owning family and founder of easyJet , Stelmar Tankers and the signature bright orange painted members of the easyGroup ,he graciously responded, by explaining the costs of operating out of Barbados were too high. Last year alone, the airline division carried over 96 million passengers.

I remain convinced that the former easyCruise model could once again work for us, a combination of passengers and freight with a roll-on-roll-off vehicle facility.

I’ll leave you with the conclusion of a Caribbean Development Bank study ‘Ferry travel serves as a low cost option for domestic travel in the region, with tremendous potential for growth beyond domestic travel’.

14 comments

  • Caribbean governments will ruin it like every other regional enterprise. Take your pick (1) Over taxing (2) Political interference (3) Nepotism
    The problem is not the ferry it’s the operating environment

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  • We need to get the ferry service and hope we improve on our mistakes of the past.

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  • PoorPeacefulandPolite

    Brilliant !! Should be possible with crowd-funding or some form of public offering.

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  • On another note, congrats on the sale of your property Adrian. Wishing you and your wife all the best.

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  • What does it tell you when an airline can operate in a market where the only travel option is to use air services. In addition there is virtually no competition and yet it still cannot make a profit?

    Something has to be fundamentally wrong.

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  • Piece the Legend

    It would make perfect sense

    Therefore IT WILL NEVER BE ADOPTED IN BARBADOS!

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  • Seriously, I would like someone with the “know how” to go through …. step-by-step ……. the processes required to bring this Ferry Service to life ……. maybe then will understand why this has not yet happened and why it won’t happen in my lifetime!! Please also include the stumbling blocks in the process…. lol.

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  • Once again, we have ‘resurrected’ the talk of a regional ferry service, perhaps as an alternative to LIAT.

    Let me state ‘up front’ I support the introduction of a regional ferry service in the Caribbean and it’s an idea that should be discussed reasonably and rationally.

    I remember the “Windward Lines,” which used to travel from Barbados to St. Lucia and St. Vincent bi-weekly. During those days, several Barbadians used to sail to SLU for the weekend, leaving BGI around 11:00 PM Friday night and arriving there at around 6:00 AM Saturday morning. The boat would leave SLU Sunday at 12:00 noon.

    At that time, the rate to St. Lucia was approximately $130, with a cabin, while the deck rates were a bit cheaper, which, in my opinion, were ‘reasonable’ for 1 1/2 days.

    There is a scheduled fast ferry service from Antigua to Montserrat, provided by the “Jaden Sun.” The fares for this 1 & 1/2 hour trip are EC$300 (BD$224) return or EC$150 (BD$112) one-way…… and EC$150 return for children between 2 and 12 years and EC$50 (BD$38) return for infants below 2 years.

    Please bear in mind the distance between Antigua and Montserrat is approximately 29.12 nautical miles.

    Additionally, there are about 6 or 7 ferries operating between St. Kitts and Nevis. Travel times vary according to the ferry ……. from 30 minutes to 1 hour…… and fares between EC$20 and EC$30.

    Similarly, there are ferries operating between SVD, Bequia and the other grenadine islands; Grenada and the Grenadines; Dominica and Guadeloupe, Trinidad and Tobago.

    How about discussing the feasibility, for example, of operating a ferry service between BGI and ANU, while bearing in mind the distance between the two islands is 267.5 nautical miles.

    (1). How much do you think a return trip would cost passengers to travel from BGI to ANU?

    (2). Taking the distance into consideration, how many trips would the ferry be able to service in one day?

    (3). Will the vessel will sail according to the availability of passengers? It wouldn’t make any sense to have a scheduled ferry sailing from here to Antigua with 10 or 15 passengers.

    (4). I can understand a ferry service operating between BGI, SVG and SLU…… or maybe even GND.

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  • We cannot even maintain the three elevators of Harrison’s Cave. How are we gonna do that with a ferry? It would be out of service after one year at the latest and the hull would rust through after three years.

    We need simple solutions for Barbados. So at the most a wooden wheel and a donkey. Something we can repair with wood carvings. Therefore I rather recommend a 20 meter long wooden raft with a straw hut on it.

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  • PoorPeacefulandPolite

    This company ” . . .offered the barest of amenities, allowing very cheap prices to be advertised. Value would be added by charging separately for each service aboard which is normally included in the quoted price of other cruise liners. Given the minimal facilities on board, the ship would position from port to port at night or in the early morning as the passengers slept, in order to allow the maximum time in each port ashore.” . . . . . . . STILL, it served the Greek Islands for about ten years and went belly up in 2014 and was eventually sold for scrap !!

    Let’s face it: the Eastern Caribbean simply wouldn’t have enough cargo or inter-island travel in the off season to keep it going as a properly maintained low cost connection. Despite our charms the two enduring problems for investors in the region are: smallness and seasonality.

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  • Fit for purpose:

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  • “Let’s face it: the Eastern Caribbean simply wouldn’t have enough cargo or inter-island travel in the off season to keep it going as a properly maintained low cost connection. Despite our charms the two enduring problems for investors in the region are: smallness and seasonality.”

    @ PP&P

    That’s the reality…… and we can’t compare now with the ‘good old days’ of the inter-island schooners that transported fruits, vegetables and a few passengers.

    What became of the company, “Caribbean Ferry Service (CFS)” that was registered in Barbados sometime during 2013?

    In 2016, CFS was in the process of finalising the ‘paperwork’ with the Barbadian authorities, to operate two ferries, “Opal Jet Express” and “Dream Jet Express,” for cargo and travel. The initial service was supposed to become a reality by the end of 2016, facilitating travellers between BGI, SVD and SLU ……. and with plans to extend the service eventually to other islands.

    .

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  • Cecil Pickering

    to help with the cost may be the government could come up with a ferry lottery .what do y’all think?

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  • fortyacresandamule

    @Tron. You missed your calling. Stand-up comedy is your forte. Very funny indeed. But on a serious note, I would love to see this venture becomes a reality.

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