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Brianinidaho

Cheap Transportation on St. Thomas

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The taxi business is a huge racket here. It is “regulated” which appears to be simply an organized racket. There is a reason why there are hundreds of taxis inside the gated area of the port waiting to give rides. If I lived there I would want to drive a taxi as well because of the rates they charge. When you get off the ship, they want $13 per person to go to Red Hook, $10 per person for a group of 2 or more. We had 7, which would have been $140 round trip (I rented a car here once for $30 per day.. ya, they drive on the other side, but we made it work). So, we walked outside the gate and was offered the same trip for half price by a taxi. Walked 2 blocks toward Kmart and found that the locals were ridding the open air taxis for $2 each. Roundtrip was $28 for our party of 7 versus $140. And the local open air bus and the private expensive taxis all have the same traffic problems. The stops our bus made added less than 4 minutes to the total time. And we felt 100% safe the entire time. My point is that it is easy to see why no locals take the cabs that all the tourists line up to take… way too expensive. So if you are adventurous slightly, save a ton of money. The drivers are helpful. There are little doorbell type buttons on the roof you push to signal the drive you want off.

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We were there a while back, and AMEN! Too many tourists think that the taxis lined up by the dock are the only transportation available! Thanks for sharing this... we can all save some cash.

 

Dale

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We are also going to be a group of 7 - 1 of which is a toddler. Mainly because of the baby, I want to make absolutely certain that we are being very, very careful.

 

Are these "private" transports also at Red Hook to take you back?

 

Thanks so much for the advise. When adding up just transportation for the 7 of us around St. Thomas and St. Johns, it was getting to be very expensive. This would be great.

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I thought they were safe. I had my 12, 10, 6, and 4 year old boys, along with my wife and my mother, and felt completely safe. I would take my 1 year old in a heartbeat. You do see a little bit of the local lifestyle, which we really enjoyed. Locals taking these shuttles take their young kids. It is just what everyone takes who live there. LOL

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This is the fun part.

Getting off the Ferry from St. Johns, the tourists stop at the taxis, the locals walk 20 feet further to the side of the road, and the buses stop. They just make a loop... the bus there was full, we waited 3 minutes and caught the next one. Local pay a buck or two, tourist $10-13, to get back to the ship. The bus stops about 3 blocks from the dock.

 

They really are fun to ride.

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I agree, I only wish we had seen this before we went on our cruise earlier this month :rolleyes:!

When we got off the ship, we were guided to the taxis inside the terminal which charged $10.00 pp. (I think) to go to Red Hook. We went sailing with "Rumbaba Charters" (highly recommend by the way :D !)

After a really great day sail, we jumped back on the same type of taxi thinking it was the same price. We found out it was only $2.00 pp. to the terminal. The only difference was the driver wasn't talking to you over some speakers, and the truck was a little older and worn :p! The roads there are rough and very winding in spots no matter how you go, so hold on to little ones :eek: !

There were a few young children travelling home from school, some locals going to K-Mart, and some other tourists going back to the ships. It probably took a few minutes longer to get to the terminal due to having a few more stops, and it drops you off outside the gate, but I don't mind walking to save a few bucks!

From now on, I'll know to walk outside the terminal when I get off the ship to get a local taxi :cool:!

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I agree, I only wish we had seen this before we went on our cruise earlier this month :rolleyes:!

When we got off the ship, we were guided to the taxis inside the terminal which charged $10.00 pp. (I think) to go to Red Hook. We went sailing with "Rumbaba Charters" (highly recommend by the way :D !)

After a really great day sail, we jumped back on the same type of taxi thinking it was the same price. We found out it was only $2.00 pp. to the terminal. The only difference was the driver wasn't talking to you over some speakers, and the truck was a little older and worn :p! The roads there are rough and very winding in spots no matter how you go, so hold on to little ones :eek: !

There were a few young children travelling home from school, some locals going to K-Mart, and some other tourists going back to the ships. It probably took a few minutes longer to get to the terminal due to having a few more stops, and it drops you off outside the gate, but I don't mind walking to save a few bucks!

From now on, I'll know to walk outside the terminal when I get off the ship to get a local taxi :cool:!

 

I would imagine that St. Thomas is not the only Island like this.

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Brianinidaho or anyone else,

 

How long would you say it takes to get from the cruise port to Red Hook? Did it take any longer coming back from Red Hook in the afternoon?

 

We have a private boat chartered and just wanted to know what time we should get back to Red hook...our ships sails at 6:00 p.m. with a all aboard at 5:30.

 

Thanks guys,

Chris:cool:

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Brianinidaho or anyone else,

 

How long would you say it takes to get from the cruise port to Red Hook? Did it take any longer coming back from Red Hook in the afternoon?

 

We have a private boat chartered and just wanted to know what time we should get back to Red hook...our ships sails at 6:00 p.m. with a all aboard at 5:30.

 

Thanks guys,

Chris:cool:

 

If I recall, it was 15-20 minutes each way. Since they come by all the time, I would think if you were at Red hook by 4-4:30 ish you should be completely fine! If you panick, you can always take a high priced taxi... but they take almost the same amount of time. Good luck.

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Brian,

 

What other places besides Red Hook does the bus go? Also, could you describe in better detail how to get there when you come from the ship? I just don't want to look TOO MUCH like the lost tourist that I am :D

 

Also, do the buses stop at, or close to, Sapphire Beach?

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This is the fun part.

Getting off the Ferry from St. Johns, the tourists stop at the taxis, the locals walk 20 feet further to the side of the road, and the buses stop. They just make a loop... the bus there was full, we waited 3 minutes and caught the next one. Local pay a buck or two, tourist $10-13, to get back to the ship. The bus stops about 3 blocks from the dock.

 

They really are fun to ride.

 

 

Okay, just so nobody gets confused when we call these "buses". The bus stops are set up by the Virgin Islands public authority. The open air "buses" that stop there are just locals trying to make a buck, its not public transit, and shouldn't be thought of as a bus like we usually think of it. They make frequents stops--when we did this the guy stopped for gas and lunch before we kept moving on. When you want the guy to stop you just stomp your feet in the back of the truck (others will "help") and the guy knows you want off.

We found our ride to be safe, and yes cheap--but use appropriate caution. I don't believe these guys are regulated in any way.

 

Can you tell I used to be a public transit manager? ;-)

 

Just my 2 cents!

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I live here, and ride the local safaris almost every day, so I'm going to clear up some of the confusion on this board.

 

There are three types of "public" transportation here: 1. VITRAN busses. They service many, but not all, parts of the island, and run mostly during commute and school hours. Fare is $1. They're white and look similar to busses you'll see in the States (though smaller). 2. "Dollar taxis." These are the ones BrianinIdaho is referring to. The original Dollar Man was (as far as I know), did not have a taxi license, but he had a well-used safari truck that he used to transport people from UVI to the East End (Red Hook) stopping at the mall and other shopping centers along the way. His system has now evolved into a Taxi Commissioner, licensed and regulated industry with fares ranging from $1 - $2 depending on where you get on and off. Many of the drivers doing "dollar runs" have a buzzer that you press when you're ready to get off (none of this stomping your feet business). Though the route includes the road passing Coki, Sapphire, and Red Hook, you have to walk maybe 1/4 mile to get to Coki and Sapphire from the stop. These vehicles stop anywhere along the route if they see a "local" standing on the street, because they depend on volume to make their living. The dollar safaris do not stop at Havensight or Crown Bay. You have to walk maybe 1/4 mile to get to the closest stop. 3. "Gypsy taxis." These drivers usually congregate at the major shopping areas (the mall, Pueblo, etc), and are usually unlicensed and fares are not regulated.

 

I wouldn't recommend any of them if it's your first time here, because you'll miss the most beautiful scenic outlooks, and there's no narration whatsoever. I also wouldn't recommend it if you've got a large group, because you might have to wait and wait for one that'll have enough space to accommodate everyone (or split up). From what I've read on the posts, the $20/pp tour is a bargain, because you learn something about the island, and the drivers are somewhat flexible in the arrangements. If you've been here before and want to go to St John, Sapphire, or Coki, then the dollar safaris might be suitable.

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I also live on the Island and agree with your post 100%. If you can get a tour for $20-$25 take it,it's a bargain and you know you will be picked up from the beach or where ever and returned to the ship on time. Today I took the fery to St John and people going over with us from cruise ships did not even know which docking area they wished to return to! Find out where your ship is before you leave it! Enjoy our beautiful Islands but return to your ship on time. Traffic can be horendous getting back to the ship.

:) B.

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I live here, and ride the local safaris almost every day, so I'm going to clear up some of the confusion on this board.

 

There are three types of "public" transportation here: 1. VITRAN busses. They service many, but not all, parts of the island, and run mostly during commute and school hours. Fare is $1. They're white and look similar to busses you'll see in the States (though smaller). 2. "Dollar taxis." These are the ones BrianinIdaho is referring to. The original Dollar Man was (as far as I know), did not have a taxi license, but he had a well-used safari truck that he used to transport people from UVI to the East End (Red Hook) stopping at the mall and other shopping centers along the way. His system has now evolved into a Taxi Commissioner, licensed and regulated industry with fares ranging from $1 - $2 depending on where you get on and off. Many of the drivers doing "dollar runs" have a buzzer that you press when you're ready to get off (none of this stomping your feet business). Though the route includes the road passing Coki, Sapphire, and Red Hook, you have to walk maybe 1/4 mile to get to Coki and Sapphire from the stop. These vehicles stop anywhere along the route if they see a "local" standing on the street, because they depend on volume to make their living. The dollar safaris do not stop at Havensight or Crown Bay. You have to walk maybe 1/4 mile to get to the closest stop. 3. "Gypsy taxis." These drivers usually congregate at the major shopping areas (the mall, Pueblo, etc), and are usually unlicensed and fares are not regulated.

 

I wouldn't recommend any of them if it's your first time here, because you'll miss the most beautiful scenic outlooks, and there's no narration whatsoever. I also wouldn't recommend it if you've got a large group, because you might have to wait and wait for one that'll have enough space to accommodate everyone (or split up). From what I've read on the posts, the $20/pp tour is a bargain, because you learn something about the island, and the drivers are somewhat flexible in the arrangements. If you've been here before and want to go to St John, Sapphire, or Coki, then the dollar safaris might be suitable.

 

Hey, this is very good information!

I agree nearly completely. For some, paying for a narration and the privacy of a private cab is worth $26 roundtrip per person. For others, like myself, we had 7 people going to ST. Johns, a buck or two added up to huge savings... and it was FUN!

 

From the ship, walk into town toward the KMART (the only way into to town) a 2-3 blocks and you are on the main road they drive by. Just ask anyone who appears to be local. Folks are extremely friendly and helpful.

 

When we got on, there was room for at least 20 folks more, so if you are in a large group you may want to consider this. Savings can be in the hundreds or more.. and whats the worse, you split up (they run often enough you can probably stay in eye contact most of the way).

 

thanks for the additional details. Riding with the locals really added to our vacation experience.. we feel we got to see a side of the island that most folks miss. And we saved a ton to spend elsewhere.

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We will be docking at Crown Bay and have to get into town. What is the best way for us to get from place to place?

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Brian, to us, KMart isn't in town, so if they walk towards town, that's the wrong way. You walk towards KMart to get the safari. Then you cross a busy, confusing street with traffic going in three directions, walk along the side of the street that has no sidewalk, then stand in the bare patch of dirt and wait for a safari to stop.

 

The government and the people of the VI are very concerned about the safaris stopping anywhere on the road to pick people up, so they encourage people to wait at the VITRAN bus stops for the safari. I don't think the area desribed above has a bus stop sign.

 

I can understand about wanting to save a few bucks, but sometimes it's better to pay more for safety and peace of mind. Besides, the taxi drivers are paid to be nice to you. The safari drivers? Forget it!! Many times they're in such a hurry, they'll pull off WHILE you're trying to get on, and they'll barely stop to let you off. Customer service is NOT their strong suit.

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hvsteve1, your options for getting around from Crown Bay are taxis ($4/pp into town, I think), rent a vehicle, or walk. It's probably a mile and a half.

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Brianinidaho or anyone else,

 

How long would you say it takes to get from the cruise port to Red Hook? Did it take any longer coming back from Red Hook in the afternoon?

 

We have a private boat chartered and just wanted to know what time we should get back to Red hook...our ships sails at 6:00 p.m. with a all aboard at 5:30.

 

Thanks guys,

Chris:cool:

You should make it in 30 minutes, but I would allow an hour since you are going to be around "rush hour"

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In response to hvsteve1 - IMHO the walk from Crown Bay into town is not a particularly difficult one for able bodied adults. It is mostly flat terrain, but it is along a very busy street in a commercial/industrial area and the sidewalks, where there are ones, were uneven and in poor repair as of last fall. I would not recommend this walk for anyone with mobility problems or little children. My main comment however is to use EXTREME caution when crossing streets. When I first came to St. Thomas took me more than a few near misses before I got in the habit of looking to the RIGHT as I start to cross a street. Coming from the states I didn’t realize how ingrained the habit of looking LEFT as I step off the curb had become.

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Manoverboard, the sidewalks haven't changed, and your warning couldn't have been more insightful.

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Brian, to us, KMart isn't in town, so if they walk towards town, that's the wrong way. You walk towards KMart to get the safari. Then you cross a busy, confusing street with traffic going in three directions, walk along the side of the street that has no sidewalk, then stand in the bare patch of dirt and wait for a safari to stop.

 

The government and the people of the VI are very concerned about the safaris stopping anywhere on the road to pick people up, so they encourage people to wait at the VITRAN bus stops for the safari. I don't think the area desribed above has a bus stop sign.

 

I can understand about wanting to save a few bucks, but sometimes it's better to pay more for safety and peace of mind. Besides, the taxi drivers are paid to be nice to you. The safari drivers? Forget it!! Many times they're in such a hurry, they'll pull off WHILE you're trying to get on, and they'll barely stop to let you off. Customer service is NOT their strong suit.

 

Wow, that is certainly NOT the experince we had! We were on the Carribean Princess and it docked right by the vultures, ooops I mean the taxis, at the main dock. There were 3-4 ships at the main dock and hundreds of ship passengers walking the 3-4 blocks into town. I've been to the peir several times and always walk to K Mart. First Cruise forgot colored sock, 2nd Cruise for bottled water, 3rd cruise for discount pop for the kids, etc... I guess if you are in a walker or wheelchair, just take the cab. But after a few days eating on the ship, a short walk actually feels really good for many folks.

When you get out of the dock area, go across the street immediately, then walk up toward town, toward K mart (you will be across the street from it) and bingo! Pick up for Red Hook. (this avoids any "confusing" 3 way streets)... true, the traffic runs opposite in the states, using caution is always smart.. ( First visit we flew here, rented a car... wow! First time driving opposite was a real eye opener) so yes, good point, use caution!

 

The drivers were excellent! Just tap the door bell button above you and you are off.

I agree, not for everyone, but many many people would choose this option if they only knew about it.

 

Hope this helps out some fellow traveler. I can bet the taxi drivers don't want able body adventurous folks to know what transportation the locals use each and ever day. Brian

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Just so there is no misunderstanding, I was attempting to describe the conditions pedestrians would encounter when walking from the CROWN BAY marina to the center of Charlotte Amalie. Most cruise ships dock at Havensight, east of downtown. Crown Bay is west of the downtown area and gets used much less. Although there is a lot of traffic to content with, the walk from HAVENSIGHT to Kmart is only a short distance. Didn’t mean to provoke an argument –just trying to provide some information for cruisers who may get docked at Crown Bay. Since fewer ships go there it’s harder to get information about that area.

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Hey no harm no foul.. things are cool. I didn't mean to look like I was arguing with anyone, rather sharing our experience. Yes, you are right, from further out piers it would be a different story. We all learn here, as I just did. Thanks for yours and everyones insights.

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