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FAST FERRY TO RUN YEAR 'ROUND WITH SMALLER BOAT

May 15, 2003 – Despite an "off" winter season, V.I. Fast Ferry as of this weekend will be offering service between St. Croix and St. Thomas year 'round, according to the operations director of Boston Harbor Cruises, the ferry's parent company.
The difference is that the ferry itself will be a much smaller vessel.
The 600-passenger Salacia returned to Boston earlier this month after V.I. Carnival. The MV American Freedom, which can carry 150 people, will begin service in the territory on Saturday, BHC's Kevin Matthews said.
"Our numbers are down," Matthews said on Thursday. "But one reason we're offering the year-round service is that a lot of our customers indicated a desire for it."
The crossing in the American Freedom will take about a hour and 45 minutes, and there will be two round trips a day, seven days a week. Matthews said that while the American Freedom is much smaller than the Salacia, the ride between islands should be smooth.
During Carnival, he said, a ship similar in design to the American Freedom was used to carry an overflow of passengers. "We wanted to see how the ship handled the waters and see what the customer response was," he said.
The waters between St. Thomas and St. Croix are less rough in the summer, Matthews said, and he anticipates a good reception. "Ever since we arrived in the Virgin Islands over three years ago, everyone from the Port Authority to the Department of Tourism to our local customers have been asking when we would be able to offer year-round service," he said. "We are happy to say that the day is here."
Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards welcomed the extended service. "There are so many upcoming events and activities that our residents and visitors can attend with their families through a unique, affordable transportation experience," she said.
Weekdays, for its first run, the ferry will depart St. Croix at 7 a.m. and arrive on St. Thomas at 8:50 a.m. It will then depart St. Thomas at 9:30 a.m. and return to St. Croix at 11:20 a.m.
For the days' second run, it will leaves St. Croix at 3:30 p.m. and arrive on St. Thomas at 5:20 p.m., then leave St. Thomas at 6 p.m. and return to St. Croix at 7:50 p.m.
On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, for the first run, the boat will leave St. Croix at 8 a.m. and arrive on St. Thomas at 9:50 a.m., then depart St. Thomas at 10:30 a.m. and return to St. Croix at 12:20 p.m.
For the weekend second run, the vessel will leave St. Croix at 4:30 p.m. and arrive on St. Thomas at 6:20 p.m., then depart St. Thomas at 7 p.m. and return to St. Croix at 8:50 p.m.
In April, because of dwindling ridership and demands for maintenance, service via the Salacia was cut back to no regular service on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and to two round trips a day, down from three, on other days. For V.I. Carnival, the boat provided expanded service from April 30 to May 5, the end of its season.
Fares will remain the same, Matthews said: $60 for adults round-trip, $50 for children ages 3-12, and free for children under 3.

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