Philippine ferry travel, the good, bad & the ugly

It’s no mistake Philippine ferry travel is a must in the Philippines, especially if you want to travel to most of the tropical islands on your hit list. The thing is though they can prove to be quite difficult to know (or find out) when they go, where they go to and from, how much they cost, how long they actually take and if you will have a seat or not. Yea sometimes it’s not the greatest journey.

Philippine ferry

I can tell you now though that the Philippines is my favorite country and if you follow my blog you would know that I am not short on seeing a handful of countries, not to toot my own horn here but that’s saying something for the country consisting of 7,100 islands. But! Ha, there’s always a ‘but’ right, and that one small crap factor is catching ferries in the Philippines sucks. For you to realize the extremities of how badly organized these ferries are I would say its worse than the Indian Rail system. Oh and if you don’t know how bad that is, well take in mind that people in India often wait for train delays anywhere between 1-48 hours.

However don’t let that discourage you from travelling to, in and around one the most beautiful countries the world has to offer. Instead understand that this country is un-developed, the ferry times change and sometimes the to and from ports even change. It can be frustrating especially if you have somewhere to be at a certain time. So my advice when travelling anywhere in the Philippines is allow yourself adequate time.

Philippine ferry

 The good

What’s great about catching a Philippine ferry? They are dirt cheap! You can get to so many islands via these ferries and not have to spend big. You also have the opportunity to meet a lot of cool people. Sometimes, depending on the ferry there may be somewhere you can buy food and drinks, some will have stretches or for overnight journeys you may have a bed and air-conditioning.

The bad

Sometimes you may not have the most pleasant journey due to the long distance and time it takes to travel, it can get hot on the ships, noisy and finding a decent seat can be a little tough depending on the amount of passengers and the boats layout. What is probably the number one crap factor is the giant lack of information about what ferries go where and the timetables. But this is largely because the ferry times or routes may change and they don’t have anyone to updating people or a website for that matter. Reason being is it’s just a waste of their time being on the net when all their customers head to the terminal to find out info and book tickets anyway.

The ugly

Mostly these cases are rare; well I would like to think so. But sometimes ferries can sink and this has been know to happen between certain locations and that ultimately depends on the age of the vessel, how big it’s load is and the seas it is conquering. I was once told the ferry from El Nido to Coron is far too dangerous and chances are I would be swimming to shore at some stage during the journey. But I had a hunch I would be fine and went on it anyways . . .  and yes we made it, yayy! Haha

Another not so flattering thought about Philippine ferry travel is that they can be delayed, and again this depends on where you get your information from. Or often ferries times may have changed  (which happened to me twice), and sometimes ferry destinations and origins can also change.

Honestly though, the thing is the locals don’t know much about the ferries and as much as we like to ask they can’t provide us solid answers. They can’t keep up to date, they have more important things to worry about, like their business, feeding their families and making ends meet however they can.

My advice

Suck it up because it will be, but hopefully not, crap at times. If you are stressing out and are short on time, chances are you will definitely not have such a fun time. I suggest allowing yourself adequate time for your holiday if you want to do it on the cheap. Some islands and places you can fly to via plane on Air Philippines and Cebu Pacific but to keep in budget go the ferries 100%. Get to the ferries ahead of schedule or check and book your tickets before you go either at the port (my suggestion) or via Ocean Jet if they are available or even SuperFerry.

Remember the Philippines is a beautiful country and I would hate to see peoples opinions change of it just because of the Philippine ferry debacle. Go there, have fun and love every minute of it, even if you are on a long ass ferry journey.


  1. Nguyen
    • Jaryd Krause

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