Which Ferry Connections To Avoid?

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Perhaps I better put this in a separate topic

Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of frequent storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

Sometimes late this year I plan to make a tour between some island, preliminary 

Cebu island somewhere at west/south 

to somewhere at Negros Oriental

to Dapitan or somewhere in Misamis Occidental.

Land/ferry to Misamis Oriental

to somewhere at Bohol

and then probably a ferry from the NORTH side of Bohol (e g Tubigon/Getafe) back to Cebu.


=So OTHER than the best long distance ferries.


Of course avoid to bad weather, but what's your experience which of the small ferries are OK and which to avoid?  

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From my experience I would not take a ferry for any longer than you have to. They are essentially non-regulated and frequently overloaded with cargo and passengers. Loads are never secured properly and I would travel via Ferry only when absolutely have to.


Whenever I plan a trip involving ferries, I look at the weather and seas. Keep plenty of flexibility in your schedule. If you don't have that, fly. Avoid travelling via ferry during the heavy travel times (pre-Christmas, post New Years). That is when they get overloaded the most. 


Ferry schedules are never static. They slide to the right and left and it's hit or miss actual departure times.


I have taken the ferries between along the Western and Eastern RORO highways.



I haven't traveled on the Central RORO highway yet (thru Cebu). 

Edited by MikeB
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Actually, There is a reason that the Philippines have a long history in ferry mishaps. They are cheap! The Philippines allows the purchase of RIVER ferries, used, and retired from mostly Japan (where they have standards).


These river ferry boats are not the same as ocean going ferries. Big difference in open water crossings. Then the cost factor of employees. Much like those men / boys who collect money and hang like monkeys off the back of your local jeepneys. The ferry employees are not the same quality as those OFW cruise ship workers who learn a real trade and have specific training.  


So not only is the boat design wrong for the work it is expected to do, ass in the maintenance issues, employee issues and then over loading and load shifting and all is just fine.... until a wind blows up or a loading hatch is not secured.  

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I have ridden the SuperCat ferries from Cebu to Tagbilaran on Bohol and back, and from Batangas City to Calapan on Mindoro before.


They are a relatively fast boat and seem well maintained. No vehicles.....only passengers.


Other choices are the much larger, vehicle and passenger ferries. And S L O W E R.

Locally  known as RORO. Roll on, Roll off when concerning vehicles.


I enjoyed the ride much more with these RORO ferries actually. Yes they are MUCH slower but the experience is a good memory. Lots of Kodak moments. You can walk around the outside and are not confined to a per-determined seat as is the case with the SuperCat.

They have inside or outside open air seating, although that outside seating, or benches actually, is the better option I think.


The SuperCats have inside seating and up top, open air seating. I did not like the inside seating....your closed in with only bulkheads to look at and all hatches to the outside are closed and latched before departure. Once inside these boats.....there is no going out. Your stuck.

You can select the up top, open air seating at the time of ticket purchase but it seems those seats go quickly and all that is left is the inside seats.


The RORO ferries are the easiest on your budget although the SuperCat is reasonable.


As far as operating condition and seaworthiness, I think the SuperCat is the safest choice. They are smaller, appear to be in better condition, faster and do not carry vehicles.

Good idea to know EXACTLY where the life preservers are in any instance.




Have a great and safe trip!!

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Mike S

We have only made 5 trips by RORO from Toledo in Cebu to San Carlos in Negros .... the RORO runs about 4 trips per day back and forth it is about the only way you can get a vehicle from Cebu City to Bacolod city .... there are 2 other routs but I won't recommend them ..... the one in Tambuelan I would definatelly stay away from .... the road going there is really crappy and ferry only comes when there is a full load .... regardless what the web says there is no set schedule like in  Toledo ..... the other way is to go down south as far as you can go and catch the ferry going to southern tip of Negros Oriental ..... but a long ways if you are going to Bacolod City .....


There are also smaller craft going to San Carlos but they are usually pretty crowded (don't even think about going on holidays ... as someone else said) ...... depending on the weather conditions they will secure the vehicles to big rings welded into the deck which I guess well hold good enough ..... but be forewarned sometimes (most of the time) it will sound like a barnyard as they transport chickens and pigs (haven't seen any goats yet but I'm sure they do) .... and be careful where you step as I almost busted my arse when I slipped in some pig sh*t  they didn't clean up (just part of the charm of traveling in the Phils ...... :thumbsup: ) .... also they have bunk beds if you think you can sleep .... although you are assigned a seat no one ever really pays attention to that except for the aircon cabin ..... they have someone stationed there to check your ticket stub .... 


We usually sat up by the wheelhouse so I can see what is going on and if I see the captain and crew getting ready to bail out I'll be right there with them ..... :hystery: :hystery:  (only kidding ... well maybe not so much .... :mocking: ) I find it kinda humorous as when they get ready to leave or make port the captain or pilot ... not sure what he is ... will come out with his assistant (usually a young guy in a white naval style uniform .... the head honcho is in civies) and he will give a command to the assistant who will shout it to the wheelhouse ..... now this is only 8 feet from the guy giving the directions (we'll call him the captain) to the guy steering the ship .... really a kick to listen to them .... I'm sure who ever was in the wheelhouse also heard the commands given by the captain .... cause he answered him .... (or maybe he had an assistant too .... :hystery: )


Anyway of the 5 trips we took one was in pretty heavy seas (white capping) and the rest pretty smooth ..... when you have a vehicle there is no telling how you are going to drive on or off the ship .... sometimes we had to back in and drive out ..... sometimes we had to back in and back out and only once did we drive in and drive out ..... now mind you the RORO has doors at both ends ...... why .... I don't know ... your guess is as good as mine ....  :mocking:  ..... 


But all in all we enjoyed the experience and other than almost busting my arse in the pig poop it was kinda fun ..... you just have to get to your vehicle as quick as you can because the damn buses will start blowing their horns if you don't move in a hurry. ..... we had as many as 4 buses once but most of the time only 3 plus some trucks and other cars .... 


Not sure how you are planning to get around but that is our experience on a RORO ...... oh ... and the trip took about 1 1/2 hours of actual travel time on the water .... not bad at all ..... and in Tolado and San Carlos they keep pretty much to a tight schedule .... at least the times we went ....


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