ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – Five destinations in the southern Caribbean will soon enjoy an inter-island passenger ferry service that will cost almost one-third of the amount it cost to travel to the islands by air.
As of October 01, 2009, the service will be offered to residents of Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Grenada. Owned and operated by BEDY Ocean Lines in Grenada the service will officially be launched on October 1, but will make its maiden voyage departing from each of the destinations on October 20, 2009.
Costing between US$120 and US$140 and already inclusive of relevant government taxes associated with inter-island travel including Value Added Taxes. In Grenada’s case, it will be implemented as of February 2010.
The duration of a trip from each country will range between one and half hours to three and half hours. “These are passenger speed boats and it will it make more or less time to arrive in each destination because naturally some islands are closer to each but basically no trip will not extend beyond three and a half hours,” BEDY Ocean Lines CEO Benjamin Ross said.
The company had originally planned to launch the service in July, but had to delay the service to facilitate a second ferry. This has resulted in one ferry making St. Vincent its home and will service the St. Vincent to Barbados and St. Lucia routes, while the second ferry will be based in Grenada and will service the Grenada to Trinidad and Barbados route. The seating capacity per boat will be 260 and 300, respectively. The company hopes that very soon into the operation, other neighboring countries will be added.
Speaking about safety, Ross said that the vessels, with American and Caribbean crew, would contain a radio system to communicate with the nearest port and immigration at each destination.
There will also be certain rules and regulations in place for passengers’ safety. “For instance, passengers must be at the check-in area at least 30 minutes before departure and would be searched and subjected to customs and immigration laws,” he said, while confirming that no alcoholic beverages would be consumed on board.
Speaking about the baggage and ticketing system, Ross said the free baggage allowance would be two pieces at a maximum of 60 pounds, plus a carry-on. Extra pieces would only be accepted on a space available basis. Tickets will be valid for a maximum of 60 days will be non-refundable and passengers would be allowed to change their reservations up to three hours before a scheduled departure.
Promising to provide patrons with a fast, reliable, comfortable, safe and extremely cheap way to travel, the ferry services come at a time when the traveling public has been negatively affected by high airline rates and baggage restrictions.
“This ferry will be offering daily service to the islands mentioned and management is confident that customers will have a perfect way of reuniting with families and friends while business persons will now have a reliable mode of travel,” the company said in a statement.