Chaos, Commotion at Ferry Dock


My family had the opportunity to visit your beautiful island of St. John last week (3/23/06) and we were so impressed. What a treasure! Unfortunately, we only were able to spend a short time on the island before returning to our cruise ship. I’m sorry to say, the ferry trip back to St. Thomas was full of unpleasant surprises.

We arrived early to the ferry dock (to insure there was no risk of missing the departure of the cruise ship) and were stationed near the front of the line. As the time grew closer to 4 p.m., the crowd grew larger. When the gate opened, people began to push from the back and the side seating area, creating a very scary situation, especially since our young daughter was with us. But wait, it gets worse.

Taking note of the dangerous circumstance, the ferry company closed the gate leading to the ferry. During this commotion, our daughter somehow managed to slip through the gate, while her mother and I remained trapped on the other side. Instead of attempting to calm the crowd so boarding could resume, imagine our disbelief upon seeing the nearly empty ferry leaving the dock with our young daughter aboard! (We found out later that this decision by the ferry company was made in a fit of anger). Our daughter was left to fend for herself for the next hour and we were now at risk of having the cruise ship leave us behind. Fortunately, we were reunited with our frightened daughter at Red Hook and managed to board the ship in the nick of time.

Our situation was bad enough, but even worse is that the locals say they must put up with this bad behavior and lack of respect every day. Is this how the only means of transportation to and from the island should operate? I feel it is my duty to warn other tourists, via the internet, of our experience so they can avoid what we went through. No matter how beautiful your island and your people, the rewards are simply not worth the risks.

Bill Heslip
Huntsville, Alabama