On Saturday, March 14th, the final cruise ships docked in St. Thomas.
In an effort to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in the Territory, the VI Government suspended cruise ship visitation until at least April 10th.
With no cruise ships coming in, it has meant a big blow to businesses near the cruise ship terminals, as well as area taxi drivers who rely on visitors needing rides around the islands.
Kenroy Hendrickson has been driving taxi for 20 years in St. Thomas, he says his favorite part of the job is the people, “Meeting people from various cultures, that’s the most rewarding part of my job.”
But recently, he’s been meeting fewer people, with cruise ships not docking, and air travel down, it’s really hit his bottom line hard, “Business has gotten very dismal, it’s taken a sudden decline and we’re really feeling it right now, it’s very bad,” said Hendrickson.
Typically Hendrickson’s passengers would be tourists, but USVI News rode along with him this week, and despite everything, he’s staying positive, “It’s really hurtful, but we understand the situation, and it’s life, and sometimes you have to deal with unexpected situations as they come.”
Hendrickson says we were approaching the end of what was the peek season, which is typically December through March, so they were prepared for a decline in fares, but not quite yet and not so sharply.
We wont see another cruise ship dock at least until mid-April, and it’s anybody’s guess as to when air travel may increase, “It’s a big tragedy for our economy, our peace of mind, our way of life here in the VI here and we just hope this crisis comes to a closure very shortly,” Hendrickson said.
So Hendrickson, along with the dozens of other taxi drivers who rely on steady income from visitors are anxious about the future, but he’s rolling with the punches, while hoping aggressive measures now to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus will pay off in sooner rather than later, “The major problem is uncertainty, folks don’t know what to expect because this is fairly new, it has just caught us off guard, so everybody’s panicking, but I believe that in the near future we have better control… and that will make this crisis diminish.”