Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cebu to Calbayog By Boat – Purchasing A Ticket

Another unexpectedly exciting trip I just did!

How did that happen? Well, I was scheduled to conduct another team-building session for one company in Catbalogan City where there is no direct flight from anywhere. It was scheduled on a Saturday. Catbalogan city is just almost the same distance from either Tacloban city or Calbayog city, so those were my choices for an approach to Catbalogan. Flights from Cebu to Tacloban are in the afternoon, while flights to Calbayog only come from Manila. Awr! I needed to do something on that Friday afternoon in Cebu. So the afternoon flight from Cebu to Tacloban wasn’t that much of a fit though I could have tweaked my skeds for that. But that meant staying overnight in either Tacloban or Catbalogan prior to the event. Extra expense! So is flying off Cebu passing via Manila and on to Calbayog! Haruuuuy!

I wondered then if I could go by boat as I have heard they run during the night. Client said there is a boat from Cebu to Catbalogan but it leaves on a Thursday night. Not good. Then she just remembered there is also a boat from Cebu to Calbayog, and it runs on a Friday night arriving early Saturday morning. I almost shouted with glee! Why? Because I have been meaning to ride an overnight boat in these islands and this was a chance to do it. Not that I haven’t tried boats yet. I did/do the ROROs many times, but still, I was wondering how different would it be riding these small ships overnight. Plus, this was a new seaport destination for me – Calbayog! Wohoah! I thought that was exciting! So, I went for it… and yey!

I learned from client that the shipping line is Cokaliong, so I skimmed online where I should get Cokaiiong tickets. Their website says there is one at Gaisano Country Mall. I went there and was told they just ran out of Cokaliong tickets. Gosh! But they suggested I try at an outlet in Ayala or the Traveller’s Lounge at SM. I went for the latter. The SM lady was ready to issue me a ticket but they don’t have a chart, layout or floor plan of the boat that I wanted so much to see first, before I decide which class of service to get. (I like the open-air areas, no aircon, and not down in the middle or bottom). She instead suggested why not I go to the nearby Cokaliong Center telling me that there should be something there since it is their main office in the first place. So I did! Just a jeep ride away (12I) from SM, but for my standards, could be walked actually. Its just a little bit beyond Sugbutel, probably some 700 meters from SM. I rode the jeep anyway hehe – which is enormously farther since it still skirts the SM area and that vacant lot all the way to Cebu Daily News offices!

OMG what a ticket office this Cokaliong Center has! Its very high up so many notches from what I have seen at Lite Shipping! On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, for me Lite Shipping’s office is a 2 and Cokaliong Center’s is probably 12 hehe! I mean it looks like a bank’s teller counter - the waiting areas are clean, orderly and air conditioned. Signage are all clear and employees are uniformed who conduct themselves in a pro manner. I am definite I wont catch any of them having lunch at their desks and in full view of passengers like it is over at Lite Shipping. And I was sure I would not encounter a sloppy behaviour of some neophyte like I did at Lite Shipping’s. I noticed, I was in what was supposed to be Cokaliong Center’s building lobby. Yes, they expertly crafted said lobby into this nice ticket office. There is even a separate room for those transacting for transport of cargoes or vehicles. Wonderful!

Hey, right by the entrance door, there is an information desk where you get your ‘number’ for your turn to be served. There are also forms where you write your name, age and your intended trip details so that the ‘tellers’ would just copy them when issuing your tickets. Oh, the glass top of this information desk is peppered with schedules and other useful information that we passengers ask about (esp first-timers like me). And it is manned by a youngish uniformed seafarer, NOT a ‘jaguar’, a ‘blue guard’, or a ‘sekyu’! I asked the kid if by chance he has ever been to Calbayog on board their ships and he said “not yet” though he expects it would happen soon. And I learned he is still an “apprentice” (I think that means intern or something like that). Nice that folks studying to become seafarers are also immersed in office functions of a shipping line and not just the ship itself!

When my turn lighted up, I went to the ‘teller’ and asked if I could see a layout or diagram of the ship I was taking. She gladly looked for it and showed me. Though she herself wasn’t able to immediately find on the chart the ‘bed assignment’ that she gave me, she asked her colleagues so she could explain it to me clearly. I suggested that it would be better if they can show similar charts on their website and she said she’ll relay that to their website manager. Without me asking, she told me the name of my ship (M/V Filipinas – Dinagat), which pier the ship will depart from (Pier 1) and what time should I board (630PM or earlier) for my 7PM departure. She also told me the ship arrives at Maguino-o Pier (still some distance from Calbayog city center) and that they have free shuttle buses to bring us passengers from that pier down to the city. I was wowed!

So far so good, and that got me even more excited to do this boat ride! Let’s do more of that in my next story!

1 comment :

  1. there was NO shuttle bus to the town when I was there a year ago ! got a ride from a private car, just lucky!