Let’s face it: flying to Caticlan is so freaking expensive a one-way ticket costs half my sister’s yearly tuition. Kalibo is almost always the better choice for the average Pinoy flyer who wants to get to Boracay with a bit more money to spare for actual enjoyment rather than a plane ride that’s just two hours earlier–theoretically.
Which brings me to another way we average wanderers can reach Asia’s best beach and the world’s second: by ship.
Hours may be long, and the seasick among us may cringe at the thought, but this new traveling experience isn’t as bad as we stereotype sea travel to be (at least for me).
2Go Travel–a venture by Negros Navigation, Superferry, Cebu Ferries, and Supercat–started offering Batangas-Caticlan-Batangas trips only last March, and the vessels servicing this nine-hour route, I found out as I was aboard Cebu Ferry 3 one June weekday, were outfitted to outclass a typical seaborne bunk.
Let me count the ways why:
1. Above average sleeping quarters.
Cabin-type room which fits four people
Each cabin comes with a flatscreen and a desk, among others.
The ship provides four classes of accommodations, three of which are airconditioned: the Stateroom, the Cabin, and the Tourist (the Super Value Class, also their cheapest, is non-airconditioned).
We stayed in one of the cabins, which had two double bunks, accommodating up to four people at a time. It was my first time to ride a ship, and I must say I was impressed–the room looked and smelled clean. It also had everything I would normally expect from a hotel room–a private bathroom, flatscreen TV, table and chair, a cabinet, and yes, a large mirror. Of course, each room has four lifejackets as well.
I did sleep quite well, save for one or two instances I woke up feeling nauseous (sleeping while floating needed some getting used to, as did sleeping horizontally on a moving bus and spending 14 hours on a train, the latter I’m yet to write about).
The airconditioned Tourist Class. All in all, a ship can accommodate about 900 passengers across accommodation classes.
2. Chic common spaces.
2Go Travel’s lobby bears accents of the brand’s signature magenta.
Guests can take their meals at this mezzanine lounge.
Those who may have qualms about traveling by sea may be swayed by the vibrant, chic interiors of this hotel. You have to hand it to them really–as a roll-on, roll-off vessel that transports cargo trucks at the same time, they could simply have opted for dank interiors that remind you of hospitals.
Instead, the lobby has cushioned chairs and three gigantic flatscreen TV sets all around. It looked the way any decent hotel should, and that’s saying something considering what we sometimes have to pay for in other places.
The lounge, on a mezzanine no less, offers spectacular views from outside. The ship’s cafe–which serves full meals–was done in the same tasteful touch as the other spaces in the hotel.
The hotlel’s cafe serves up reasonably priced food for passengers in a mix of funky and classy.
You can also enjoy cocktails at the bar, which is located at an open deck one level above the cafe. An in-house band plays every night, and lounge chairs are also provided. Between that and enjoying the quiet of your room, I believe the nine-hour cruise to Caticlan would pass by without a hitch.
The open deck is sure to be a treat when taking the morning cruise. At night, this is where the in-house live band performs.
3.Great value for money.
2Go’s rates offer great value since a fare computation includes both the cruise fare and the accommodation, and the cheapest one goes for about P460.
To book a Batangas-Caticlan trip, you can use their online booking engine (http://travel.2go.com.ph/) in the same way you would book a flight.
It does offer group packages for at least 10 persons. A cabin-type accommodation would cost P2,100 round trip per person during the lean season (from March 1 to 21 and June 16 to November 15, 2012), and P2,700 during the peak season (March 22 to June 15, and November 16 to December 15, 2012).
4. Best for families and groups of friends.
The accommodation types would naturally compel you to bring in the rest of the gang for some nine or so hours of whiling the time away, alternating between cocktails and TV and plain old staycation. And since 2Go’s group rates are very competitive, provided you have more time than cash to spare, it offers a fairly good deal for families who’ve been wanting to go on that Boracay trip but have been continually thwarted by prohibitive airline rates. Its facilities certainly make group travel the norm rather than the exception, although going solo might not be that bad too.
5. Different take on slow travel.
There may be just two types of people who would go for this cruise: those who are after the value for money, and those who are after the travel itself. Sure, the nine-hour transit, plus the almost two-hour travel from Manila to Batangas, would eat up so much time others wouldn’t even want to hear any of it. But for those who can, regardless of the reason, it’s simply another way to travel. The sheer novelty of it all is so appealing you just have to go for it.
DIRECTIONS FROM METRO MANILA (CUBAO) TO BATANGAS PORT
View Larger Map
BUT THE DESTINATION ISN’T BORACAY:
A hike to seven waterfalls
A cruise along the cleanest river in the country + a crocodile love triangle
Riding a canoe that won’t please anyone who couldn’t swim
This trip was hosted by Kairosolutions & 2Go Travel. Thanks for reading!