New Caribbean ferry service to be launched

ROSEAU, Dominica: A new, year round ferry service will sail in the Caribbean in another three months, offering travel to Dominica, St. Lucia, Guadeloupe and Martinique.

L’Express Des Iles announced last week that the Jeans Ferry Service will begin on October 20, and will also offer weekend charters to Montserrat, Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Currently, L’Express Des Iles operates a less frequent service. But Managing Director Roland Bellemare says there’s been increased travel over the years.

“We operate between Dominica, Guadeloupe and Martinique, three to seven return services depending on the period and between Martinique and St. Lucia, three to four return services a week. We carried 184,000 passengers in 2010 and for the first time since we started this service, our traffic in and out of Dominica ranked the first position,” said Bellemare.

“We used to have in the following order: Guadeloupe-Martinique market being the first one, then the St. Lucia one and Dominica the last one. In the year 2010, for the first time, Dominica ranked first with over 63,000 passengers in and out of Roseau.”

President of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association Simon Walsh has welcomed the introduction of the new ferry service.

He said it would provide increased access to the French market and could also make it easier to reach St. Lucia and, by extension, the U.S.

Walsh said lack of accessibility has so far kept people out of the large French market.

“With this new ferry system, let us hope that we are making a step in the right direction and with 137 passengers coming in three times a week, it does open up the French market,” he said.

“Another thing we have been talking a lot about is the St. Lucia connection. Hopefully, we are going to find that this opens up access into St. Lucia. Once we open up access into St. Lucia, the access from St. Lucia directly into the U.S. mainland is also easy now with more airlines like Jet Blue and other airlines coming in finding that St. Lucia is a very attractive gateway into Dominica,” Walsh added.

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