Thursday, April 22, 2010

To Ormoc from Cebu and back via fast craft

There are various modes in crossing the sea from Cebu City to Ormoc. You have a choice of various crafts from the big ships for passengers and cargo to even bigger RORO barges. But the most popular are the fast crafts namely WG&A’s Supercat and the Weesam Express.

Who traverses the Cebu – Ormoc sea and vice versa? Well, mostly people from Biliran, Leyte and Samar. But in my crossings, I have encountered folks bound to or returning from Camotes Islands in Cebu province – even folks from/to the east-central parts of Mindanao. Exciting! Let me tell you all about them.

To/From Leyte. Well, if you are coming from Cebu and the other visayan islands, the best way to approach Biliran, Leyte and Samar is via Ormoc City. Especially for those who live in or visit the north and northwestern parts like Biliran, Ormoc is a very crucial transit point. While there are also sea craft from Cebu to Baybay, Hilongos and Bato (all in the province of Leyte), many folks still find Ormoc more convenient. Even for many of those going to, or coming from Southern Leyte (province) do prefer to pass via Ormoc – even if there too are crafts that go direct to Maasin and other towns.

To/From Samar. Going to Eastern Samar (province) from the central and western parts of the Visayas is easiest via Ormoc. On arrival at Ormoc, one takes a bus or van ride to Tacloban (more than an hour) then hop to their destinations like Guiuan (southernmost), Borongan (capital) via the scenic highway passing Basey and Marabut (in the province of western samar. Those bound for Arteche or Oras (northern towns of Eastern Samar province) the buses and vans pass another route via Calbiga, HInabangan and Buray crossing jungles to Taft. Oh, to western Samar (province whose official name is just “samar” – the word western is dropped), there are ships from Cebu direct to the cities of Catblogan and Calbayog. Yet many going there still find the way via Ormoc as more convenient. Ah, going to the province of Northern Samar, the choices are the same – fastcraft to Ormoc then either take a connection of vans via Tacloban or the direct ships to Catbalogan and Calbayog.

To/From Camotes. One would wonder why anyone going to Camotes Islands in Cebu province would still cross to Ormoc City in Leyte when coming from Cebu. I did too! Fact is, it is not only more convenient via the fastcrafts… it is nearer. Blame it on our forebears but all four towns of the Camotes Islands are nearer to the main island of Leyte than Cebu. The nearest is between the towns of Pilar (Cebu) in Camotes and Merida (Leyte) northwest of Ormoc. You can try your maps, the nearest boat crossing from Cebu (island) to Camotes is via Danao which is far, on smaller outriggers and takes about 3 to 4 hours.

To/From Mindanao. There are various sea vessels direct from Cebu to Surigao yet many still find their way via Ormoc, then hopping on a bus/van/jeep to Liloan and other towns where the buses from Manila to Davao or Cagayan De Oro pass. It crosses from Liloan (southern Leyte) to Surigao City then amble along southwards or southwestwards. I asked one co-passenger going to Tandag about the seemingly weird choice. His reply was it was more convenient. Hmm, really now?! Another passenger was even going to General Santos and we all know there a lot more (and better?) choices from Cebu via Butuan or Surigao city.

Which fast craft?
Ah, here are my notes! On the times of departure, the Supercat leaves Cebu at 545AM, 11AM and 440PM and returns from Ormoc at 820AM, 145PM and 715PM as per their website. But give or take 30minutes. Trust me when I say that since I had already a lot of near misses and accidental “oh good I caught it” situations. How and why, I do not yet know, but the 545AM is usually a 6AM or even a few more minutes late and the 715PM is usually a 7PM. Most of the times, I have found that the 11AM departure to be usually on the dot! The Weesam has 5AM, 1045AM and 440PM from Cebu while its 1055AM and 755AM and 145PM from Ormoc. These schedules do change a lot and there usually are more trips during peak season. Their schedules are posted daily on Cebu’s newspapers like the Freeman or the more popular SunStar.

On Weesam, the economy fare is P600 while first class is P700, plus a few more pesos for taxes. Oh, as of this writing they do have a promo where your return economy fare becomes just P300 if that return is within 15 days from departure. It started 12PR2010 but does not say until when. On the Supercat both classes are P50 more expensive than Weesam. Both depart from Cebu’s Pier 4 but on separate terminals/buildings (just adjacent anyway). The economy seats on Weesam are way too narrow and do not even have those retractable tables. In the Supercat, the seats are more spacious there is also room to move around if you feel so. Hmm, first class seats are better in the Supercat but I feel there is more elbow space on the Weesam. Finally, while both are strictly closed the whole trip, on Weesam’s first class, you can go out to the deck for fresh air, a smoke or pictorials.

Hey, at Ormoc btw, both crafts use the same fast craft terminal (other ships and vessels use another pier) but you buy your Weesam ticket at a small stall/kiosk outside of the building while on the Supercat, its at the spacious lobby!

Those are your choices!

1 comment :

  1. Well, thanks for the info!!

    By the way, have you ever heard of