FeaturedTourism/Transportation

Ferry service between Ceiba and Vieques, Culebra to start Oct. 10

A new ferry route connecting Ceiba with the island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra will begin operating Oct. 10, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló confirmed.

The service will be provided with four vessels leased from a private operator at a cost of $15 million for one year.

“Economic and social development is an important part of our agenda to establish a new Puerto Rico. Today we fulfill an important commitment for economic development in the eastern region of the island and social justice for residents of Vieques and Culebra,” said the governor.

The service that begins later this month from Ceiba will run parallel for two weeks with service out of Fajardo, where the ferry service is currently provided by the Maritime Transportation Authority. The government agency has nine ferries, of which only two are in operation.

To address the cash-strapped agency’s lack of full facilities, the government is looking to establish a public-private partnership to run the connection via sea between Puerto Rico and its smaller island municipalities.

On Friday, The Public-Private Partnership Authority announced that five companies have been shortlisted for the project that requires a potential investment of between $20 million and $25 million. The competitors are: Balearia Caribbean Inc.; HMS Ferries Inc.; Priority Roro Services Inc.; Puerto Rico Fast Ferries, LLC; and Seastreak, LLC.

The contract is expected to be awarded in December, with a transition to be completed by mid-2019, the government confirmed.

“The new facilities that we built in Ceiba represent the commitment of this administration to Vieques and Culebra,” said MTA Acting Director Juan Maldonado. This is just the beginning of dramatic not only the service but the quality of life and economic development potential improvements. It is a new beginning for the ATM and Roosevelt Roads to benefit the people of Puerto Rico.”

The new route between Ceiba and the islands will use the Harbor Patrol building at the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Base as its new terminal. The facilities have better parking facilities available in comparison to the Fajardo ferry area, officials said.

The first ferry that will provide  service is the Schoodic Explorer, which has a capacity for 149 passengers. It will run alongside the Big Cat vessel, which accommodates 377 passengers.

By Oct. 20, the Mr. Evan boat will join the fleet, with a capacity for 77 passengers and 16 vehicles. On Oct. 22 they will be joined by the Mr. Cade, with capacity for 68 passengers and 16 vehicles.

Author Details
Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

Comments (4)

  1. What is the opinion of the citizens of Viequez!?

  2. Any schedule for the Oct. 10 ferry to Vieques? Is there a number for information: schedule, tickets, etc…?

  3. Any idea as to cost for passengers? Reliability? Availability? I’m coming back to VQS in January. I have purchased my airfare into San Juan but not my flight to VQS. I’m holding off to see how likely of an option this may be. Does anyone have a link to further information? Thanks.

  4. Ernest Feliciano

    About time. The Government run ferry system is terrible. I am looking forward to see how the private operation runs.

    We often attempt to take visiting guest to Culebra and Vieques, each time we have to leave arrive early in the AM, and pray there is room. Often, there is not. Worst of all, the 9 am ferry generally does not leave at 9:am.

    The car ferry is even worst. We waited in line to load the car, only to have the ferry leave half full, as it took 1 hour to load the big trucks. Common sense, no load master was in charge, the big trucks loaded 1st, which raised the ramp and made it impossible to load the other vehicles. We watched the ferry leave with only 4 trucks and 6 motorcycles.

    On another trip, we were going to the island to possible purchase a business opportunity. When we could not make the ferry, we canceled our trip and informed the seller we would not be interested due to the unreliable ferry system.

    Let’s pray this new partnership will make it easier for people and tourist to visit the beautiful island.

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