The Bottom, Saba- The new ferry service between St. Maarten and Saba with Big B, a 230 passengers 130 feet vessel owned by Bobby Velasquez, was inaugurated on Thursday.
The new service of Blue Peter Charters will run five days a week, providing not only service to residents of Saba and St. Maarten, and tourists, but also to cruise passengers who want to visit Saba for the day.
Commissioner Bruce Zagers said that the Big B ferry service will provide more connections to Saba, in addition to the existing ferry services of Dawn II and Edge. “Especially when you make the link with the cruise lines coming to St. Maarten. It will create a new market that we didn’t have before,” he said.
Zagers said that Big B was also a “great option” for arriving passengers on St. Maarten who continue their journey to Saba. “If Winair is full, they can take the Big B to Saba.” He said that this will especially be handy for passengers arriving on for example Royal Dutch Airlines KLM.
Velasquez already carries out a very successful ferry service with the Great Bay Express to St. Barths, carrying cruise ship passengers there for the day. “I will help to sell Saba just as I did with St. Barths. The St. Barths service was difficult in the beginning, but it has proven to be very successful with up to five runs per day.” Velasquez said that he would promote the new ferry service to Saba during the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association FCCA trade show in Miami next month.
Zagers said he was thankful for the offer that Velasquez made. “Bobby approached us, a gesture that we very much welcomed. This provides us a great opportunity to further develop our tourism and to provide that extra service to the Saba people. And Bobby’s big, established network will help us with that,” he said.
Big B, driven by three fuel-efficient 1600Hp engines, takes its passengers in comfort to Saba in just under 1,5 hours. The delegation that was on board Thursday agreed that it had been a smooth, fast ride from St. Maarten to Saba.
Special relation with Saba
Restoring the St. Maarten-Saba sea connection has a personal touch for Big B owner Velasquez. As captain of the famous Blue Peter schooner, his father Austin Hodge sailed between St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Kitts from 1946 until 1954.
At the time, the Blue Peter, owned by the Netherlands Antilles Government, was the only regular service between St. Maarten and Saba. The vessel came to Saba once a week, and it transported about everything, from passengers and mail to household goods and animals.
“In those years, I spent many holidays on Saba, an island that has always been close to my heart. I am very happy to be here especially because of my special relationship with Saba. It makes me happy to restore the old Blue Peter run,” Velasquez said upon his arrival at the Fort Bay Harbor, together with a small delegation.
Velasquez and the Public Entity Saba signed an agreement on board stating that the Big B will run for a pilot period of three months and the Saba Government will actively market the now daily ferry connection between the islands. For more info: www.greatbayferry.com