Pelni ferry “Sirimau” – Larantuka to Makassar

by hamishandkat

Imagine a cargo ship converted into open bunks to house around 2000 people… We got a bench in the aft lower lower deck, with around 95% of males smoking with little or no airflow.

The journey took 28 hours in total, and we were glad to check ourselves into a hotel with hot water, air con and a tv.

Sleeping arrangements

This has popped up in Google for a few people so I thought I should expand…

We had several options to get from Flores to Sulawesi – Flying (via Jakarta or Denpasar), a Pelni ship from Maumere or a Pelni ship from Larantuka to Makassar.

Seeing we had plenty of time we had decided before we left Perth for this trip we would only fly or back-track when absolutely neccessary.  We checked the Pelni schedules – http://www.pelni.co.id – and there were two ships around the time that we wanted to go.  Some of these ships only pass through either port at long intervals (2 or 4 weeks) so it’s a case of them lining up or not. Larantuka is only really a days travel via local transport from Maumere if it lines up with your plans better.

Our trip took 28 hours – our Swiss friends Stefan and Sara took the Maumere option a few days before us which was schedule to take 26 or so hours… They had engine troubles and it ended up being something ridiculous like 40 hours.

The dates for the Maumere departure looked like being too much of a rush, so we decided to take the Larantuka option, which also meant we had more than enough time for our side trip to Lamalera.

Tickets can only really be booked the day before from agents near the port… Pelni offices typically aren’t open until a day before a scheduled departure.  We stayed at ____ in Larantuka, and he was nice enough to get our tickets for us while we were doing the Lembata/Lamalera thing.

Boarding was a crush, and once on board a porter grabbed us and guided us down some flights of stairs to some bunks.  From what we could work out, these guys grab a heap of bunks and then use standover tactics to glean money from anyone wanting to use those bunks.  We paid 50k R for two spaces, but only one mattress.  Things can get a bit nasty and there’s a lot of pushing and yelling but I think that’s mostly show.  Other people we saw had just grabbed a spot in the stairwells and some mattresses from somewhere when the doors had shut and the bed mafia had gotten off.

I didn’t work it out, but Stefan and Sara noticed meal times on the back of the ticket.  Announcements over the loudspeakers apparently will tell you when you can take the tickets to the canteens (that sell coca-cola and pop mie the rest of the time) for food.

When departing, don’t be anywhere near the doors.  We had managed to get our gear together and get close.  As the boat docked and the doors were unlocked, porters from the Makassar end rushed through to find potential clients for bag chucking or, I’m assuming, to grab any unclaimed beds to auction off as passengers embark.  They don’t really care if you’re in the way, male, female, young, old or pregnant so just be careful.

I reccommend befriending someone near you and getting them to watch your main baggage, while you take your valuables and hang out on the decks as much as possible – it’s less smokey and much cooler.  If there’s two of you it obviously makes it easier.

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