First day of Singapore-Desaru ferry service sees healthy crowds of families
After more than two years of not being able to go for his weekly getaway in Desaru in Johor, retiree Chong Fook Choi made the journey on Thursday (July 7), together with his daughter and her family who live in Australia.
Instead of driving there, he took a ferry. His group was among the passengers who boarded the first Desaru-bound ferry in two years, which on Thursday saw a smooth start to resumption of service.
Mr Chong said: "We plan to visit the fruit farm, sightsee and relax at the clubhouse. As my granddaughter has never taken the ferry, I decided to take my family on this trip to have fun."
Another passenger, marketing manager Kim Low, was at the ferry terminal in Tanah Merah with his wife and two children aged two and five, plus his mother-in-law who came from Japan.
"It's my first time going to Desaru. We wanted a short getaway with my mother-in-law while she is in Singapore and we booked it spontaneously last week since the ferry service is back," he said.
"We are planning to just relax there, perhaps visit the firefly park today and water park tomorrow. We will be staying for one night and returning to Singapore tomorrow."
A return ticket costs $118 while a one-way ticket is $70.
From July 7 to Oct 6, ferry operator Batam Fast is charging $98 for a return ticket for bookings via its website and social media pages.
The ferry, which can take 330 passengers, leaves Singapore at 8.30am and departs from Desaru at 5.30pm from Thursday to Sunday, with each trip taking around 90 minutes.
Before the pandemic, travellers could take a 30-minute ferry ride from Changi Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal in Kota Tinggi in Johor, followed by a 30- to 45-minute drive to Desaru. The ferry service was suspended from March 2020 because of Covid-19.
Alternatively, travellers can reach Desaru by bus, with the ride taking about 2½ hours depending on traffic conditions and Customs clearance.
A spokesman for Batam Fast said it has seen good response for the ferry service.
"So far for this weekend, the departing trip on Saturday and return trip on Monday are fully booked. Even though we only offer trips from Thursday to Sunday, we decided to open up next Monday, a public holiday, for bookings due to the long (Hari Raya Haji) weekend," he added.
Passengers should take along valid travel documents such as passports, entry visas, permits and vaccine certificates.