Scuba diving in Asia forum

Ferry Travel in Indonesia

  • srwilson47

    Joined Travelfish
    3rd August, 2010
    Posts: 1

    We will be visiting Indonesia in October. We plan on doing some diving around Borneo, Sulawesi and then heading down to Lombok/Bali. Any advice on the travel from Borneo/Sulawesi/Lombok? I found a basic ferry schedule but no time schedules or approx. time between destinations.

    #1 Posted: 3/8/2010 - 09:53

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  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
    Joined Travelfish
    14th April, 2008
    Location Global Village
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    Welcome to Indonesia!

    Here's the Pelni website which gives the shipping routes if you haven't already got it.

    http://www.pelni.com/

    Quite often the ships are out of service for months but you'll probably only find out about that when you get there due to the dearth of information on the internet.

    Here's the official Pelni booking site.

    http://www.pelni.co.id/schedule.asp?loc=en

    As you can see it doesn't work at the moment. Once in a blue moon it does work, but only for a brief moment so you have to hit lucky and it will probably only be able to tell you about this month's schedules anyway. I don't think even Pelni has schedules more than a month in advance.


    Like many things in Indonesia, the Pelni schedule operates on "rubber time" ... don't rely on an exact time of arrival and departure even if you manage to get an up to date schedule. Local people usually know that such and such a ship usually arrives or leaves such and such a place on such and such a day (alternate Saturdays or whatever) and that's about as accurate as you are going to get. When I was waiting for the ferry back to Ambon from Banadneira the locals said today or tomorrow, we'll know when it's near enough to have phone/radio contact. Sure enough, an hour or two hours before it arrived (one day late), word got out that the boat was coming ... and that's when you start packing up to leave.

    The trouble for travelers like us is getting information about what day, what ship and where, and finding out what ships are in dry dock and not running at any given time.

    I've often asked Somtam to nip down to Kuta and try and get hold of the latest Pelni schedules at the office there but he never does... he just lies in a hammock in Bali drinking beer and surfing all day long, blisfully unaware that travelfishers outside Indonesia are tearing their hair out trying to grapple with the logistics of travelling by ferry in Indonesia! ;-)

    Last year some kind soul on TT posted a two week schedule for 2009. Post #7 on this thread.

    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1752700

    If you can manage to read and understand it, it gives you a vague idea about when ships are in various places and how long it takes to get anywhere. I don't know how accurate the information is now (ships could be in dry dock etc) but it's the nearest thing to a schedule I can find right now.

    #2 Posted: 3/8/2010 - 16:46

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2087
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    "I've often asked Somtam to nip down to Kuta and try and get hold of the latest Pelni schedules at the office there but he never does... he just lies in a hammock in Bali drinking beer and surfing all day long.."

    Ha ha - that gave me a good chuckle this morning!

    #3 Posted: 4/8/2010 - 03:39

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