Following the Dog...
Hey friends, with my home closing here in Michigan now just a couple of weeks off and my move to USVI shortly thereafter, am again trying to make sure the trip is as stress-free as possible for my 17 lb pug who is flying in cabin with me, and knowing we'll arrive at STT airport in sweltering heat, especially this time of year. My shipped car won't arrive until a few days afterwards when the local auto broker will deliver it to our temporary lodging in St Thomas, so what's the best way to get through the airport, retrieve luggage and to get on our way with a dog in tow? It was so much easier when I traveled there before with just my backpack and no checked luggage, just hiked out to the main road and caught a safari bus to the hotel because they tried to load like 15 of us, as cattle, onto the taxi vans at the airport, just ridiculous! For instance, are there dedicated taxis or limos that will take just myself or a few of us to our destinations and are dog friendly? Then, the next leg of the journey, from St Thomas to our temporary lodging in St John, by the time our car has caught up with us, do you recommend I just take the dog with me from the lodging in St Thomas to the lodging in St John and then come back and make a separate trip with the car (because it seems like it might be kind of difficult to coordinate handing the car off to the car barge folks at the same time we catch the passenger ferry, again with my dog in sweltering heat)? And how dog-friendly and accommodating are the ferries (I don't recall seeing anyone with a dog any of the times I've been on the ferry, although obviously pets must go back and forth all the time).
Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy post, but it is a detailed matter that perhaps I'm stressing about more than my dog, lol, hope you can appreciate.
There are some private taxi services that you can reserve transportation from the airport to where you are staying on St. Thomas. It's going to cost you though. If you will have your car by the time you are going over to St. John, definitely just take your dog in the car on the car barge. It will be less stressful for your dog to just be with you in your car. You can take animals on the passenger ferry, but they will have to be crated. And the ferries can sometimes be hot as well.
"(because it seems like it might be kind of difficult to coordinate handing the car off to the car barge folks at the same time we catch the passenger ferry, again with my dog in sweltering heat)"
Not sure what you mean here, but when you take the barge you don't hand your car off. You back it on and stay on the barge with it for the trip and drive it off when you get to the other side. It's about 25-35 minute trip. $30-$35 one way, $50 roundtrip (has to be used within 30 days of issue).
Easiest way: rent a car on STT, turn on the AC, load pup and bags into the car, drive onto the car barge, then drive off and pull up to your accommodations on St John. Then the only trick becomes picking up the car at the airport - not all car rental companies provide service at the airport itself, so when you rent, ask how you will get the car when you get to the airport. Also make sure the company allows its cars to be taken on the barge to STJ (some do not).
Any other approach will involve private taxis (costly, and you'd have to hire one on STT and another when you get to STJ), a lot of loading/unloading, and definitely time in the heat. If you go this route, have your taxi driver in STT stop somewhere to buy a packet of frozen peas or something else cold for your pup to rest on if he's too hot.
Good luck! Keep us posted.
Oh, and a few more barge tips for first-timers.
When you arrive in Red Hook to get on the car barge, you have to stop at the port authority booth to pay the port fee, currently $4 per car. (You don't have to do this when traveling from STJ.) So, make sure you have a few dollars in cash at the ready so you don't have to dig around for it and hold up the line.
The barge fee itself is cash or check, collected once you are on board. No credit cards.
After you pay the port fee, you'll line up with the other cars, with the rear of your car toward the ocean, and wait until they are loading a barge. The crew will direct you to your position on board. Sometimes they load bigger trucks on first, even if they arrived after you did. And when the propane truck is going across, they are limited in the number of vehicles they can take (i.e., will stop loading before the barge is full).
Make sure you can see clearly out your rear window when you load the vehicle with your bags, because you will have to back onto the barge.
Enjoy the trip!
Rent a car. Budget is located in the airport right where you pick up baggage. The airport is small. Tiny by most standards.
Dependable Car isn't on site but will pick you up, take you to their location to fill out paperwork and get car.
Both allow their rental cars to be taken on barge to STJ. Not all car rental agencies allow this so if you rent from someplace else be sure to check on this.
When you get to the ferry terminal you head to the barge site and you just reverse onto the barge, stay in car for the 25 minute trip and drive off the barge when you get to STJ. You can keep engine running with AC for duration of trip. The barges also have a lounge is you don't wish to stay in car for the duration.
I believe that the last barge leaves STT at 7 pm.
It's usually best not to take the last barge if you can help it in case it's full.
If you miss that, you'll have to park your rental up overnight and catch the passenger ferry. Best to get to the barge early or you may not get on if it's got a full load prior to your boarding.
If you get a round trip ticket, it has to be used on the same barge service you go over on as the different companies don't allow you to interchange.
Tickets have barge schedule on back.
One barge service leaves on the hour and another on the 1/2 hour.
Tip: don't bring any canned dog food in your carry on.
TSA will be all over you. Dry is fine.
Wow, you guys are truly amazing, thanks fdr and Alana for adding on to what StJohnJulie said, I feel SO much more comfortable now...to me, that's the really great thing about this forum, sure you can research things on websites and with telephone calls and emails but hearing from someone firsthand who knows the ropes is all the better.
If you live on STJ, you'll find out pretty quick that making a STT run every few months is common. You'll hear a lot of "I'm going to STT, do you need anything?" Taking the barge over is pretty easy. Right now three barges are running, so it's not hard to catch the barge. There have been times where we were down to one and that is a nightmare. Delivery trucks, cement trucks, garbage trucks, they all use the barges to transport back and forth as well as day trippers from STT and St. Johnians that shop or work on STT. Just mad a run there Saturday to stock up on groceries and pick up a prescription at Walgreens.