We have travelled on Pelni before but just a single Kumai to Surabaya trip; this time we are thinking about Island Hopping by using Pelni. Has anyone tried this? Is it possible? If so how on earth did you plan the trip? I have tried using the official site - www.Pelni.co.id - but it is not very helpful.
Is there a better way or is that wishful thinking?
If it happens it will be in May. Starting point could be Sumatera or Kalimantan; and we are looking at going hopefully via Sulawesi, Ambon, Timor, Flores (side trips to Rinca/Komodo); Lombok and end in Bali. It does not all have to be on Pelni. Any comments on the hopeful schedule?
Also are there any other alternative companies - other than Perama and Kenaca?
Appreciate any advice/comment.
#1 Popnorm has been a member since 12/2/2012. Posts: 4
Try to track SBE down (a poster on this forum) - she's done a bit of that.
You will need to enable your Private Messages, then search for a post that she has made and click on the 'Private Messages' link and alert her to your post.
She's done lots of travel around Indo, and I know that she has taken the Pelni boats a few times.
(Somtam - this is why it would be nice to be able to create new PM's without first having to find a post made by that person!)
I think your plan sounds perfectly reasonable if you have time. I friend of mine came back to Bandung using Pelni from Manado via Maluku. It actually sounded like it went around the world before getting to Java. The key is finding an agent and booking through them in Indonesia. Maybe someone could give you the email address of a travel agent in Indonesia that could help you out over the internet. Otherwise you might turn up in Kalimantan hoping to book a ticket on a boat that doesn't arrive for a couple of weeks.
Hi, I'm here! (but a bit busy packing).
Popnorm, presumably you're getting a 2 month visa , but your proposed itinerary looks way too ambitious to me and I think it would be logistically impossible to do on Pelni...unless you're planning to spend about 6 months in Indo? Even if you fly as much as possible it's going to be rushed. You're packing a lot of places in and will have hardly any time to explore. Sulawesi and Sumatra are very big islands, you could spend a month on each of them alone.
Actually their website is simply wonderful compared to what it used to be like! Until fairly recently they had a 1999 schedule up and the search function hardly ever worked. Now you can actually see the current month's schedules so it's a great improvement.
When I was in the Bandas last December I checked Pelni.co.id a few times and noticed that it was kept fairly up to date compared to what was happening on the ground. One ferry arrived about 5 days late and its schedule did get modified in real time on the site to reflect this. It wasn't quite as accurate as the blackboard outside the local Pelni office (which got changed several times a day sometimes) but it was surprisingly good. Even the Pelni office in Bandaneira didn't get confirmation that ships would be arriving until a day or two before they actually got into harbour. You have to be extremely flexible and allow for delays of a day or two when booking connecting flights.
Pelni usually bases its schedule on days of the week.
eg on the current schedule it looks to me as if the KM.BINAIYA leaves Kumai for Surabaya every second Thursday.
So even though you only have a schedule for February/March right now, you can still look at a calendar to work out what dates there's likely to be a ferry in May. No guarantees mind you. Routes do sometimes get modified and ships could be in dry dock for maintenance.
Other companies: There are lots of ferries in Indonesia but they don't do the very long distance trips that Pelni does. It's very hard to get timetable information for these smaller ferries unless you're actually in the places that they serve. (eg travel agents in Manado probably won't have the faintest clue about Gorontalo -Togeans or Makassar- Bau Bau ferry schedules). Internet in Indonesia is still a bit behind the rest of the world and ferries usually don't have a website, so nobody except the locals know when they run. Hotels and guesthouses can sometimes give you information about local ferries either by email or SMS though.
Even if you fly the longer distances, chances are that you will still find yourself using these ferries and land transport to island hop. I'd advise flying the longer distances as much as possible and using Pelni only when it's convenient to do so, or when there's no other reliable option. (Flights to the Bandas are far less reliable than Pelni for example)
SBE has it right-the usual Pelni routes go ev 14/15 days-way too long for those small islands. On busy routes several routes combine-so you have a boat ev 3/4/5 days or so. But Pelni is very heavy on the decline and much of its older smaller boats are taken out of service-WHY?-use brains: the low cost plane has also arrived in Indo by the masses. Even those really very long distance bis malam all the way from Medan to JKT have nearly ceased. LIONair has just ordered the biggest order in history from Boeing-some 200+ new planes.
And if you intend to travel that long and off the beaten track in Indo (and even on that track) then you have to adapt to what looks like the most scary for todays youngies: there is no reliable www-info- you have to ask around and adapt. You may not even be able to book online or that losmen on the way-what a frightening prospective!
#5 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472