A Ride on the Water Taxi

For those travelling between north and south Trinidad, any alternative to the congested highway is good news, especially for getting to work in the morning. Enter the Water Taxi, a high-speed passenger catamaran that transports people between San Fernando and Port of Spain several times a day. The Water Taxi’s website boasts several benefits and a comfortable and stress-free way to travel, so two of us from MEP’s editorial and design teams decided to try it out and see for ourselves!

 

The Port of Spain Terminal

The Water Taxi terminal, which is part of the new waterfront center, was easy to find. After driving east on Wrightson Road we turned at the traffic lights by the Hyatt Regency Hotel. We parked at the Water Taxi’s free parking lot, which was nearly empty. A quick walk along the busy main road led us to the terminal building, which was new, air-conditioned and decked out with rows of comfortable seats. Out front there were two PTSC (Public Transportation Services Corporation) buses waiting to take passengers into town on two different routes through Port of Spain. On entry a receptionist greeted us and asked if we were taking the Water Taxi to San Fernando. She directed us to the ticket window and we bought tickets for the 9:05am Taxi, which were $15 each, one-way.

The Terminal building is conveniently located next to Femmes du Chalet, the original Breakfast Shed, where vendors serve enticing local cuisine. With time to spare we walked over and bought two yummy pakchoi and bake sandwiches.

Food displayed at a vendors stall at Femmes du Chalet

Back inside the Water Taxi terminal, we were shown which section to sit in and we waited for the boarding announcement. This stipulated which sections were to board first and even which side of the row to exit on. When we walked the wrong way one of the service staff members politely told us to go the other way. The 30 or so passengers filed out in a very orderly fashion and walked toward the boat. To our surprise every service staff person we walked past politely greeted us with a series of pleasantries: “good morning”, “watch your step”, and “have a nice day”. Talk about ‘A’ for service so far!

 

All Aboard!

The boat itself was nicely outfitted with comfortable blue seats, air-conditioning, and several TV screens. There was no cafeteria on board, but there was a water cooler with cups available that seemed to be free. Passengers are permitted to eat and drink on board with the exception of alcohol (it isn’t a party boat!). There were four bathrooms towards the back of the boat, two female and two male. Both female bathrooms were duct taped shut (yes, duct tape), so passengers only had access to the male bathrooms. There was no passenger access to the deck, which would have been a nifty feature, and most of the windows were not very clean, hindering our view of the sights as we sped past.

As we hunkered down for the 50-minute ride, a safety video came on informing us about the procedures, rules and regulations, followed by a family friendly movie. Aisha (our designer at MEP) sometimes feels motion sickness on slower boat rides, but did not feel sick on this fast trip.

 

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San Fernando: ‘we reach’!

At the San Fernando Terminal we felt an air of excitement. The view through the window was new to both Aisha and myself.

We experienced the same top-of-the-line customer service at this terminal, which at first glance was very different from its northern counterpart. The ticket booth was separate from the waiting area, but was conveniently located next to the parking lot, which was almost full.

We bought our return tickets for the 1:15pm trip and were warned by the security guard that if we missed the boat there would be no refunds or exchanges! I guess he had overheard our conversation about going exploring, and saw us looking at the map of San Fernando in the copy of Discover T&T we had brought along, and wanted to make sure that we knew we had to get back in time. The friendly guard told us that except at peak times, one can easily get tickets moments before the Water Taxi leaves, as there are not as many passengers. There were many taxis passing right in front of the car park, and a short walk away there was another taxi stand, a bus terminal and the High Street.

 

The Return to Port of Spain

We walked around for a few hours and then made our way back to the San Fernando terminal for the return trip to Port of Spain. This open-air terminal consisted of tents and containers, and after hours of exploring, the air-conditioning of the northern terminal was sorely missed.

There was no PA system, and security guards checked our bags on entering the tented waiting room. When asked if this was just a temporary set-up one of the service staff said it wasn’t. Again there were roughly thirty people waiting for the Taxi, seated in specific sections of the room.<

When it was time to board one of the service staff members made the announcement. We chose to sit in the front of the boat this time and gazed through the window in front of us. What seemed like a quick trip back, with good conversation and the view unrolling through the window ahead of us, was very pleasant indeed.

If judged on the customer service alone, the Water Taxi service earns high marks and with everything considered we definitely had a great experience. There are plenty of good reasons to use this service: going to and from work, travelling between the cities for business, shopping or exploration, a day out with friends and family, even a date with a difference (boat ride and restaurant reservation? Take note guys and thank us later!).

 

Fast Facts

  • Two terminals: Port of Spain (1 Wrightson Road, next to the Breakfast Shed) and San Fernando (Flat Rock, Lady Hailes Avenue)
  • $15 TT one-way
  • No refunds or exchanges if you miss your sailing time
  • For the sailing schedule go to Nidco website.

 

Aisha and Ariann are ready to reacquaint themselves with and in some cases ‘meet’ Trinidad and Tobago. Follow as these two travel to different places and interact with a multitude of faces while discovering T&T!