Saturday, August 05, 2017

New ferry service now taking bookings (Updated)

The new Benchi Express which will serve the 'interior line' of La Gomera (Image: Fred. Olsen)
The reestablishment of a ferry service between the three southern ports of La Gomera will become reality on Monday August 21st 2017 when the new purpose-built vessel will make its first scheduled sailing and bookings can now be made on the Fred. Olsen ferry company website.
The brand new 90 ft ferry which will cover the so-called interior ferry line connecting the ports of Valle Gran Rey, Playa de Santiago, and San Sebastian de La Gomera was launched in Barcelona recently and has a capacity for 150 passengers on the lower deck with an additional 100 passengers on the mostly-open upper deck. The vessel which was baptised Benchi Express has a cafeteria, and storage space for travelling pets, bicycles and light motorbikes. New floating jetties are being installed in the three ports to facilitate passengers which will also make the ferry wheelchair accessible.
The new service will run three times daily in both directions starting from Valle Gran Rey. Departure times are as follows:

Valle Gran Rey:                          06:30 am, 12:30 pm,  5 pm

San Sebastian de La Gomera:     10:45 am, 3 pm,   9 pm

Playa de Santiago (to San Seb.): 07:20 am, 01:20 pm, 05:50 pm
Playa de Santiago (to V.G.R.):    11:30 am, 03:40 pm, 09:40 pm

The new service operates seven days a week, but this is the initial timetable and I expect some changes once the winter season begins, so always check times again before booking. Prices: The basic single online fare is 10 Euros (or € 8 if you're over 60) for the journey between San Sebastian de La Gomera and Valle Gran Rey and 8 Euros from/to Playa de Santiago which comes down to only € 2.50 and € 2 respectively if you are a resident of La Gomera, according to the Fred. Olsen booking site. 

+UPDATE: There seem to be the 'customary' delays and it appears that the new service will now be running from Sept. 10th 2017, if it doesn't suffer another 'retraso'. 
Please also note that in order to make a booking you'll have to select 'La Gomera' in both the 'Origin' and the 'Destination' windows on the Fred. Olsen website, which then will lead to two further selection windows appearing where you can choose between the three ports served by 'Benchi Express'. As of now tickets on this service must be bought separately from the tickets you'll need to get from/to Los Cristianos if you're going from/to  Tenerife. This is all a bit cumbersome and should be made more convenient for intending passengers.
The new ferry's AIS tracking is now functional and her movements can be followed when they have it switched on (MMSI 225987686). She was still undergoing sea trials in the second week of August near the port where she was built and launched, but should soon make her way down to the Canary Islands.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

'La Villa' rocks again

The annual Villa Rock festival will take place in San Sebastian de La Gomera this Saturday, August 5th 2017, from 9 pm. This year five bands from the Canary Islands, including La Gomera's own Tonelada, will perform various styles of rock music and the event is free of charge.