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Fast ferries lining up to sail Caribbean seas

Fast ferries lining up to sail Caribbean seas

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A battle royale may be waged in the Caribbean Sea and bring smiles to some Vincentian faces, that is, if talk turns to action, as regards fast ferry operations here.{{more}}

Carib Liners is the latest of three fast ferry operations to indicate interest in this market, two of which were supposed to be in operation since October last year.

Belgian businessman Freddie Neart, who has lived in St Vincent and the Grenadines for the last eight years, told SEARCHLIGHT that his Carib Liners is not just talk, but will begin operating within two months.

Neart, who along with his marketing officer Dwight Parsons, spoke to SEARCHLIGHT earlier this week and said that once the process continues to run smoothly, he doesn’t foresee any hindrance to his plan.

Parsons said that the project was birthed three years ago because of Neart’s love for tourism, but the general need for more economical transportation among the islands will also be addressed once the service begins.

Star-Dancer One and Two, and another vessel called Fast Cat will make up the fleet.

Some of the fares that Parsons revealed to SEARCHLIGHT include one way fares of $130, $140, $150, and $170 from

St Vincent to St Lucia, St Vincent to Barbados, Union Island to Barbados, and St Vincent to Trinidad, respectively, among others.

Neart said that he is already in discussions with Government authorities, and doesn’t anticipate any hold up – as the boats which are in Mexico right now are nearly ready.

Offices for Carib Liners will be set up in Union Island and St Vincent.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, with responsibility for Air and Sea transportation, Godfred Pompey, confirmed that Neart has made inquiries, and said that such a venture will be welcomed by the Government.

Pompey, however, noted that Neart’s is the third organization that has expressed interest in such a venture, but lamented that for some reason the pace of following through with the necessary applications has been quite slow.

Pompey said that while CARICOM has been conducting feasibility studies into the operation of an inter-island fast ferry service amidst rising concerns about the cost of intra-regional travel, private investors in this area are welcomed.

He said that when the Canouan jet port is completed, fast ferry services through the Grenadine Island will be a welcomed addition with the anticipated increased traffic.

Pompey also told SEARCHLIGHT that once the process begins, including the necessary paperwork with the Director of Maritime Administration and the Director of Ports, he doesn’t anticipate any problem for the would-be operators.

He said the whole process could be completed in a matter of weeks.

Meanwhile, Perry Burke of Perry’s Customs and Shipping agency, who told SEARCHLIGHT last August that he was to be the agent for another ferry, “Caribbean Rose”, says that he doesn’t know why it has taken so long for the boat to begin operation.

Burke, the former agent for a previous inter island ferry, told SEARCHLIGHT last August that the Caribbean Rose was in its final stages of preparation to set sail for St Vincent.

Now he says he is unsure about the project, and is trying to get word from the Trinidadian company as to their next move.

He, however, said that he believes that the rising cost of air travel makes an investment into an inter-island fast ferry a worthy project.

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