Post by Hadiya Sewer
My internet connection is incredibly poor and my computer recently crashed. Therefore, I often travel to my parents’ office at Love City Car Ferries to work on my dissertation in the morning. I am in the office by 6 am. Though I try to focus on my academic work, I often find myself answering phone calls, running payroll, and performing other administrative tasks for the company.
My parents started this business with a great deal of grit. My father saved money that he earned as a sanitation engineer and my mother worked at the company while she was still in graduate school. Like many local Virgin Islanders, they had to use a plot of their forefather’s land as collateral. I spent a great deal of my childhood learning the ins and outs of the car ferry business. In junior high and high school, I woke up at 4 am to work as a cashier on the 6 am trip to St. Thomas before heading to school for 8 am. After school, I’d work as an administrative assistant in the office. I woke up early on many weekends to work with my father on the barge.
In our family, Love City Car Ferries is a labor of love. Our vessels, the Motor Vessel Captain Vic and the Motor Vessel Island Vic, are named after my great-grandfather, Victor William Sewer. Sea faring is in my blood. If you click the above link, you will see that Captain Vic played a pivotal role in the development of the marine industry on St. John. His father, Lancelot Sewer, was a sailor back in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and he sewed (needle and thread) the sails of sailing ships, hence our name Sew-er. Our family lineage can easily be traced back to the East End of the island, an area well known for a tight knit community of “creole people” who made their living on the ocean for many generations. We run this company to honor our ancestors and keep our heritage alive. We do it to provide a service for our community. We do it to make a living.
Nevertheless, local car ferry owners in the St. Thomas – St. John district face a great deal of challenges. These companies and the families that run them are in a precarious position. The island is undergoing a rapid gentrification process and local businesses help to safeguard local capital. Many of our ancestors have been on island for well over 250 years if not longer. These companies allow us to survive the ever increasing land taxes, the food dessert, the predatory lending practices, the downside of a colonial administration, and the like. They give us hope in the possibility of a stabler tomorrow.
Since returning home, I have heard many customers complain about the car ferry services. Some people note that the barges are too late. Others are upset when we cannot wait for them. Customers get angry when they can’t get a non-refundable ticket refunded. Customers are frustrated when the barge is full and they get left behind on the dock. Many more are disgruntled when they believe that another customer was allowed to cut the line and board the vessel before them. Some believe that the company has lost a love and compassion centered approach. Few people call us to ask a question before voicing their frustrations to the public.
We take love, compassion, and our customers concerns very seriously. At Love City Car Ferries, we do our best to balance the needs of our customers with economic survival. We leave on time whenever feasible. We try to wait for late customers if their situation is dire and the wait time is within reason. A great deal of complaints emerge from misunderstandings. Examples: We never let customers cut the line arbitrarily. We take reservations and we have a Sea Miles Club; these customers are guaranteed a spot on the vessel or given preferential boarding, respectively. At times, the barge is late for reasons outside of the captain’s control- high traffic on the dock, refueling, light maintenance, and waiting for a customer who really needs to catch a plane or get to a funeral. Other times, we want to wait for a customer but we can’t. We get fined for being excessively late. If we wait too late, we are also increasing traffic on the other side.
Since the car ferries are a lifeline between the islands, we understand why our customers get frustrated when things don’t go as planned. However, we ask that you have a bit of compassion with us as well. We are not a large corporation. We are a small family run business and we’re just human.
If you have not noticed, many of the car ferry companies in the area are facing steep financial struggles.
While the vessels appear full, the profits are not high. 80-90% of our charge customers do not pay their invoices on time. We provide our employees with a fair wage, health care insurance, and a 401k plan. Unfortunately, When you couple all of the above with vessel insurance, vessel mortgate, maintenance costs, fuel costs, Port Authority fees, and the like, these companies are barely staying afloat.
Our compassion centered business model is crippling us financially. We allow our customers to ride the vessel even when they haven’t paid for previous services because we understand that things can be hard and we know that people need to be able to travel between the islands. We try to keep the costs as low as we can because we know that moving between St. Thomas and St. John shouldn’t be a luxury. For those who are from St. John, the ability to cross Pillsbury Sound is a necessity.
In short, it’s a bit painful to hear people speak so negatively of the various car ferry companies’ owners. I have academic theories that lead me to believe that there is this way in which many pathologize local entrepreneurs in the Caribbean. Quite frankly, it’s not fair. When I wake up in the morning and head to the office at 6 am, both of my parents are already working. With a few exceptions, they work from 5 am to 8 pm seven days a week to keep their customers happy. I don’t know how Love City Car Ferries or any of the other car ferry companies are going to survive with customers who, for whatever reason, do not pay invoices in a timely manner and others who see us as a heartless corporation rather than a small family business.
Several local businesses have gone out of business over the years. Some of us look back on the days when they were open with a sense of nostalgia. Others write a history that suggests that these companies never existed. Yet, it’s important for us to remember that some local businesses still exist and these companies need our help to survive.
Due to recent events in the market, both of Love City Car Ferries, Inc's vessels are on the Red Hook to Cruz Bay Route
M/V Capt Vic faithfully works the route between Red Hook, St. Thomas and Cruz Bay, St. John. However the M/V Island Vic usually goes between Subbase, St. Thomas and Cruz Bay, St. John.
However, due to recent events in the market, the M/V Island Vic has been authorized to run a regularly scheduled route between Red Hook and Cruz Bay. This change has taken place in an effort to foster commerce and thereby alleviate any congestion on the docks, especially since Red Hook and Cruz Bay usually have three car ferries operating. With the addition of M/V Island Vic, on this route, it will have three car ferries operating once again.
We are asking heavy duty vehicles like construction and concrete related trucks to catch the M/V Island Vic while the regular traffic can continue to catch the M/V Capt Vic. However, we will not deny the boarding of any vehicles; this is just our preference.
If there are any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to contact us:
Black Friday Sale!
Are you a Vic Sea Miles Club Member? Do you proudly carry that little card with you every single time you think of catching a car ferry to St. Thomas or St. John? Do you purposefully give your club number to the cashier and ensure that he or she places it conspicuously on your ticket? If you answered yes to all of these questions, then we have a treat for you!
On Black Friday, November, 27, 2015, you can ride the M/V Capt. Vic for $35 round trip!
To be able to redeem this great offer you must have a Vic Sea Miles Club card prior to Wednesday, 11/18/2015, this publishing.
If you don't currently have a card, perhaps you can get one and be able to benefit from future offerings, just click on this link.
For our Club Members, see you on board on Black Friday!
Are you enjoying your summer? Have you and the family gotten away to some exotic place or are the kids at home driving you up the wall by calling you at the office every 5 minutes and eating you out of house and home? Well if you can't get away, then maybe you need a mini staycation. A staycation is a vacation where you remain at home but you find new and interesting things to do.
There are so many things to do in the Virgin Islands. If you live on St. John, then hop over to St. Thomas and have some fun. Here is a link with interesting things to do in St. Thomas. And if you are on St. Thomas then bring the kids over and relax and meditate on St. John. The Activities Guide has a lot of information of places to go and things to do in Love City. At least the kids will be able to report that the did something different when they return to school in August. And you won't be pestered so much anymore.
The summer isn't over. Do something different. We are here to serve you. Book your round trip on board the M/V Capt. Vic and let your staycation begin.
Love City Car Ferries, Inc. wants you to hang on to your cash payment receipts. The company is launching a Receipt Day Promotion. Customers who make a cash purchase on a round trip car ferry ride between St. Thomas and St. John on the 6:15 AM departure trip on Monday, June 1st, 2015, will get a free round trip to be redeemed on any day and on any trip in the entire month of June 2015.
The following steps are necessary for a valid redemption:
1. Ride the M/V Capt. Vic on June 1st, 2015 at 6:15 AM
2. Give the cashier your phone number and ensure he/she places it on the receipt
3. Keep your receipt; you will receive a confirmation call from the office
4. Show your receipt sometime in the remaining days of June to receive your complimentary round trip ride.
This free ride will be a wonderful way to kick off a summer full of savings and relaxation.
This offer is limited to cars and small trucks only that ride at a $50.00 round trip value. This offer is also limited by the number of vehicles that the ferry can carry. Thus, winners are first come first served.
For more information, call 340-779-4000 or visit us online at www.lovecitycarferries.com.
How do you catch a car ferry in the United States Virgin islands? It is easier than you think. Below are 5 simple tips that can help you.
After that, you are free to move around the vessel and enjoy the scenery. The waterway between St. Thomas and St. John is one of the most picturesque in the world.
Below are some interesting news of the Virgin Islands especially any news that may have relevance to the island of St. John.
VI Marine Industry Forum
The Senate Committe on Economic Development and Agriculture and Planning held a VI Marine Industry Forum to discuss the plight of the marine industry in the Virgin Islands. Some key points:
Science Education in the Virgin Islands Gets a Boost
Sometimes a helping hand is all a child/youth needs, and Jeffrey Epstein understand this quite well. This entrepreneurial mogul gave a huge donation to the STEM program at the University of the Virgin Islands. STEM stands for Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology. Mr. Epstein donated funds for accomodations and travels for students and chaperones but he also donated more than one hundred Microsoft Surface W computers, Touch keyboards and Nylon Sleeves for Microsoft Surface. Students, staff, UVI and the community in general are all grateful for this valuable contribution. Read more here: http://world.einnews.com/pr_news/223288427/harvard-mogul-jeffrey-epstein-boosts-science-education-in-the-us-virgin-islands
Picture Courtesy ofOnline PRMedia
Boat Ride between St. Thomas and St. John has been listed as 1 of the 10 most Scenic in the World
They didn't have to tell me that, I knew that alread:) Yes, the Pillsbury Sound route rounds in at number nine. Nine in the world is an awesome place to be. Here is a snippet of what the researchers said. Click on the link to see who the other winners are. But due to pride in my homeland, we will always be number one in my mind.
Easily accessible for US residents, and particularly affordable in the summer because of hurricane season, the ferry from St Thomas to St John during July to September is recommended by VirtualTourist members. Departing from Red Hook on the far eastern side of St Thomas, the ferry runs to Cruz Bay on St John every hour on the hour starting at 5.30am. The 20-minute ride is incredibly affordable and the crystalline waters are reason alone to make the trip. For only a few dollars one way, visitors to St Thomas can take a day trip to St John where more than two-thirds of the island is a nature preserve with ample hiking and public beaches to explore. http://www.travelweekly.com.au/holidays/destinations/top-10-most-scenic-boat-rides
It is that time of year again and we at Love City Car Ferries, Inc. were wondering how to celebrate the educational experience of our children. We came up with a plan: Our First Annual Back-to-School Essay Contest!
Yes, you heard it right; all children in the 5th, 7th, and 9th grades who attend school in Virgin Islands are eligible. The enclosed/linked document has all of the contest information. Share with your friends via social media. Schools with participating contestants are eligible to win an additional prize!
Have you gone to Tortola lately? Well it is time to take a trip. I visited Josiah's Bay just a couple of weeks ago and I was struck by the beauty of this white sandy beach, the picturesque ebb and flow of the waves, the quietness and solitude. It was pure relaxation. Sometimes we forget that all the islands of the Caribbean have their own unique beauty.
What is special about this region is that many islands are in relative close proximity. Whether as a group you charter a boat, pay a ferry company or hire a crew for a private charter, you can enjoy several islands in just one visit. And if you are a local, you know what to do.
Go island hopping. Try snorkeling, water skiing, scuba diving. Enjoy our Caribbean!
Sincere thanks and appreciation for all of you who voted for us in Best of the VI 2014! It is only because of you that we do what we do. As the Virgin Islands grows car ferry service will become even more vital, especially to the St. John economy. It is our intent to remain a valuable part of this community.
Thank you, from Love City Car Ferries, Inc., the premier car ferry company in the United States Virgin Islands.
There seems to be a bit of confusion regarding the M/V Capt Vic's schedule. While other companies schedules have changed, for one reason or another, we are still operating our regular tried and true schedule. Nothing has changed for us. So if you are coming to St. John to enjoy the Festival or if you have an appointment in St. Thomas, Love City Car Ferries, Inc.'s the M/V Capt Vic will be there to take you where you need to go. We look forward to seeing you on board.
Contact us for any questions regarding schedule changes by calling us at 340-779-4000 or sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR OFFICES TO HOST VOTER’S REGISTRATION DRIVES
Commissioner Albert Bryan, Jr. would like to inform the general public that the department’s Youth Services Division has collaborated with the Virgin Islands Election System to host two voter’s Registration drives during the month of June. Each drive will be organized by the VI Department of Labor’s Investing For Tomorrow (LIFT) interns.
The goal of the drive is to target younger voters between the ages of 18-24 to register to vote, educate college bound students of absentee ballots, stress the importance of voting in the territory, and to present voters with a demonstration of the new voting machinery.
On St. Thomas the drive will be held at Saturday, June 14th and on St. Croix on Saturday, June 28th. Both events will be held at the Department of Labor’s parking lots from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Voting machine demonstrations will be held in both lobby areas while refreshments and music will be available.
Each registrant must have:
- Social Security Card and;
- One (1) of the following: Birth Certificate, Passport, Baptismal Certificate, Naturalization Certificate, or a DD-214.
For additional information, please contact Fernando Webster at 773-1994.
Reference: Copyright belongs to Government of the Virgin Islands, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Labor Press Release, Cindy L. Richardson
We know; it has been a while. But the M/V Island Vic is getting closer to completion. The crew has been working tirelessly in the hot sun. We would like to publicly thank them for their hard work and dedication. They are amazing!
This ferry will serve the people of the Virgin Islands in a number of ways. Let us know of any of your ideas. Thanks for your patience.
May this Easter bring you immense joy, peace, and happiness especially as we remember that our Saviour died for us and He has risen. God Bless You!
Have a wonderful Weekend and enjoy our gift of $10 off, for the entire Easter Weekend from Friday, April 18, 2014 to Monday, April 21, 2014. To redeem, go to our booking page and enter the Promo Code Easter2014. Although this code expires on April 21, 2014, keep in mind that you can book your reservation for any date.