How safe are the ferries in Indonesia?

10/29/2014 1:14:02 AM

One by one:

  1. Yes, Indonesian ferries are that bad. Overcrowding is rife, safety precautions are often non-existent, and the open sea can often be rough. As a simple example, Jakarta Globe’s category “Indonesia boat accident” has at least 7 separate sinkings that killed people for 2014 alone, and see the links in this answer for some stories of a typical tourist ferry crossing (Flores-Lombok).
  2. Either a) nothing happens, or b) the ferry sinks and you most likely die.
  3. Indonesian planes are a lot safer: nobody has died in a commercial airline crash since 2011, and that was a turboprop on a marginal airline (Nusantara). Excluding the Sukhoi Superjet crash (which was a demo flight of a new Russian plane at an airshow, not a commercial flight), the last crash of a jet plane was in 2007.
  4. Indonesia is all islands, so your options are to take a boat or fly. But flying is extremely practical (considerably more practical than ferries, IMHO): fares are very cheap and the larger carriers (Garuda, Lion, Air Asia) are quite reliable and safe.

It’s worth noting, though, that there are large differences between the ferry operators as well. National operator Pelni hasn’t had a boat sink since 1981, despite plying all year around all around the backwaters of Indonesia. The large car ferries (Sumatra-Java, Java-Bali, Bali-Lombok) are also pretty solid. It’s the small speedboats plying off the beaten track in bad weather that are most likely to kill you.

Last but not least, if you’ve only got 10 days, just how many islands were you planning to visit? You could easily spend all that time on say Bali alone, and 10 days to get through even Java and Bali would be pretty rushed in my book.

About me

Hello,My name is Aparna Patel,I’m a Travel Blogger and Photographer who travel the world full-time with my hubby.I like to share my travel experience.

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