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Published: February 23rd 2007
PELNI FOR VIRGINS
It was our first time on a Pelni boat, some folk do it often and choose whichever class they want, if that’s applies to you then no point in reading this, I write as a first timer.
Finding out when the boat was in didn’t prove to be easy; Bahsa would help lots of course. But even fluent Bahsa speakers seemed to suffer a fair amount of confusion.
As we only booked 2 days in advance we could only get economic tickets. (Many Caucasian travelers do use this). Anyway get your ticket and keep on enquiring when the boat comes in you will need to keep asking which day as well as the time it changes. We were told 1500hrs on Sunday then when we got up on Sunday mourning the Hotel reception said the boat has gone. Devastated no more boats for 2 weeks and no flight on the Monday what do we do. They phoned Pelni office and they said 1200hrs we packed and dashed to the port to be told tomorrow. We were getting the hang of it by then so we stayed around asking questions eventually finding the boat due in
Life on board
at 2000 hrs i.e. tonight.
This wasn’t a problem on Banda they blow the ships horn on arrival and wake the whole town up its fun down the dock with all the food stalls.
Went down the dock about 1 hour early, into the Economic waiting oven. All closed up no AC everyone looking shattered. Waited and eventually the boat came in everyone very friendly but looking at us as if to say what are you doing here.
When the doors opened crazy rush for the gangway (to get a bed) still people coming of, we took a porter told him we were in Economic, he took off immediately with us in hot pursuit, You have to remember the number on their backs as they run off with the luggage if your not quick enough.
Porter straight into the fray at the bottom of the Gangway forcing his way through, Families babies everything coming and going on the same gangway, its nothing to see a porter with a full sized fridge on his back fighting his way on or off the boat past babies and toddlers. Somehow we found ourselves on board trawled around Economic, which
Pelni getting on
The Polite crowd at Bandaniera
on the Ceramai is a rat hole, none of the filthy beds were available everything full only roach infested deck. Porter dumps our bags and rips us off for the price charging much more than agreed and forcing us to pay him to go away and stop hassling us.
So there we are left in Economic nothing to sleep on except overpriced (to us rich tourists) beach mats which were on sale. Didn’t like it that’s for sure. So off I go to get an upgrade, or find a better spot. The whole ship is a rabbit warren kept on getting lost then couldn’t find my wife. Eventually got us out on to the deck outside much better option though would be damp overnight. (Although a seaman I don’t know my way round Passenger ships). Eventually found the purser and got upgraded to first class, Tatty but clean cabin with not too many roaches if you leave the light on most importantly your own shower and tiolet. No problem at all it was OK.
A Dutch lady offered to keep our bags if we didn’t get a room as she said as a European you are always a target and keeping your entire luggage safe can be a major problem especially if you sleep. Locals seemed to keep there stuff in around them in descending order of importance but they dont attract the attention as you do, another blogger on here who did the same journey calls economic staring class.
The crew will try and help you out to get somewhere better to stay even if there are no cabins as they know you stand.
Neat idea they lock doors around the ship to keep passengers in there areas to check tickets (As foreigners you can go anywhere) great for a disaster just like the Titanic with the loverly Orish people locked in the economy dancing but no lifeboats class by the evil Brits.
No were near as much hassle in Banda where the porters are softer edged and the people polite.
On the way back at Ambon the porters ran with our bags into a bunch of containers on the dockside, someone had there hand in my wife’s bag but we don’t pack anything worth stealing on top of bags. We chose a Taxi (read Bemo) driver before we got to the car (mistake) and he was parked in a dark corner didn’t like that and the Porters again became threatening. So once again paid well over the odds, still no on robbed us so it was only pride that got injured. Taxi took us of into the night with Drum and Bass blaring out at full volume totally surreal experience after getting off the boat. Took us to a hotel again Hotel overcharged for the room (the Amboina) because it was late we were tired and exhausted and the Hotel we used previously was full.
So what should we have done?
Gone to the dock later and straight to the first class lounge no one will say anything. Waited till it got a bit quieter on the gangway for sure, Carry less luggage and don’t have a porter would have been the single biggest improvement. In Ambon they are a bunch of thugs just out to rip you off and best avoided.
No matter what ticket you have go straight to 1st or 2nd class and go for an upgrade, if you cant get one you will still be in a much better area for sleeping on the floor.
On the way back again no porters, don’t choose a Taxi till you are there at the Taxi and get one in the light of street lamps not behind containers. Phone up and book your hotel in advance (Basic stuff I already know but we were exhausted at the time).
Once you sort all that out go for a walk round the ship, See what place you could stay next time to reduce the cost. If Economic is OK for you then do it. But it’s not for us.
It’s quite an experience and I am sure next we time go Pelni it will throw up new hassles previously unthought-of of but hell go for it certainly an experience.
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