Did you know that you can check in a “moving hotel” and then wake up in another island/city the next day?
With a slew of promo flights left and right, traveling domestic and even abroad has been made easy (and affordable). This is why each year, we have been accustomed to waiting for “special days”, hoping to catch promo flights to CdO. Too bad for us, we never got lucky with those. The good news is, air fare from Manila to CdO isn’t that expensive sans the promos. But last year, we discovered another way to travel, and we absolutely fell in love with it: BY FERRY!!! (Via 2Go Travel Philippines)
We found this SUPER CONVENIENT for many reasons including:
✓ With a tot in tow, staying in a “hotel” is more comfortable.
✓ Traveling that way feels like we’re on our vacation already.
✓ The boat docks directly in Iligan City Pier whereas if we take the plane, we have to travel from Laguindingan.
✓ Ezra gets carsick very quickly! So we always try to take routes with lesser car rides.
✓ Rael has this weird obsession about hotels. Seriously, he LOOOOVES them! Too much, too strange. LOL. We sometimes even check in on hotels here in Manila! And we live here!!! 😂 Every time we travel, I always see to it that I allot at least one “hotel day” for him to just laze around in the hotel room, order room service, enjoy buffets and I-honestly-do-not-know-what-else! Lol! From what I see, he’s just doing what he’s doing at home: play video games. 😂🤷🏻♀️
✓ Huge free baggage allowance!!!
✓ This may not be a super big issue since the difference is minimal but I still think it’s worth mentioning: Taking the ferry is cheaper by a hair strand. A one-way plane ticket from Manila to CdO costs around 2,500-3,500, more or less. So since children aged 2 and above already pay in full, the one way trip’s gonna cost us about 7,500-10,500. The 2Go suite room (Manila to Iligan or CdO) is priced between 6,900-9,800, depending on the ferry and the season of travel (I think). That rate is inclusive of all meals.
The main downside to taking the ferry, however, is TIME. Of course, if you are in a hurry, it’s a no-brainer to take the plane. But if your time is flexible and you have a lot of it to spare, try taking the ferry. Schedules also vary from one destination to another so before making any travel plans, check their website for the schedule first.
✘ Medical emergency: I’m not sure if they have very competent medical staff aboard the ferry. I read some horrible news about a baby having an emergency and the said “doctor” was just in the salon, too “busy” to attend to the patient. Something like that. I hope that was sorted out by 2Go already. But I guess if not, this is a risk you take. So bring emergency meds and if possible, learn basic lifesaving techniques including CPR. It would be great, too, if there’s a passenger with a medical degree aboard the ship with you.
✘ Food: Food in ferries, like those in airplanes, airports and island resorts, are expensive. Like threefold expensive.
✘ Titanic: I’ll just name it like that because I don’t want to mention these things as it’s too scary to think of. But there’s also Flight and Final Destination among others, right? I guess these things are everyday risks. The only thing I can say is pray and always be mindful of the weather. Besides, ferries and planes DO NOT leave when they think it’s unsafe. There are qualified professionals adept to make the decisions behind every trip, so don’t fret.
For Manila to Iligan, the ferries usually leave every Mondays and Thursdays.
2Go Travel offers boat trips from Manila to the following destinations:
- • Bacolod City
- • Butuan City, Nasipit
- • Cebu City
- • Cagayan de Oro City
- • Dumaguete City
- • Dipolog City
- • Iligan City
- • Iloilo City
- • Ozamis City
- • Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
- • Coron, Palawan
- • Zamboanga City
Like any other vessel, they have several accommodation options available:
- • Economy/Mega Value: the no-frills, non-air conditioned accommodation; shared toilet and bathrooms; sheets are available for a cost
- • Tourist: bunk units in a huge air conditioned room; shared toilet and bathrooms; sheets come for free – you only need to show your ticket and leave an ID with them
- • Cabin: somewhat like the tourist room but more private & accommodates 4-10 people depending on the ship; has their own private toilet and bath
- • State/Suite: a hotel-like room furnished with a television, wardrobe, telephone, leather sofa, coffee table, private bathroom with a mini bath tub, towels, toiletries and the basic hotel amenities
The Suite Life
Imagine enjoying 2- or 3-star hotel amenities while on a couple of hours or days cruise to your holiday destination… It may not be as lavish as you would get in extravagant hotels but it’s good enough and definitely comfortable.
As soon as you board the ship, you will need to present your ticket to the front desk. An attendant will then give you a key to your suite.
A phone will be available inside your room and like staying in hotels, you will dial 0 (or was it 1? I forgot, but don’t worry because the attendants will inform you of this upon check-in) for room service. Too bad I wasn’t able to take a photo of their menu but truthfully, the prices ain’t that bad. It’s just like hotel prices, a little high but not too overpriced. They have fries, sandwiches, burgers, some pasta and I think they have Filipino food as well. But, what you really need to know is this: IT WILL TAKE A LOOOONG TIME. Based on experience, the order/s arrive/s after at least 45 minutes. I’m not kidding.
Passengers on cabin, state and suite accommodations get to dine at an exclusive restaurant where they will show their tickets to get a meal. They serve 1-2 cups of rice, one meat dish, one veggie dish, one brownie or caramel bar and unlimited water/juice/coffee. The food is prepared buffet style but sadly, it’s not an eat-all-you-can thing.
Also, if you want to eat in your room, you can pay P12 for the styro container or if you have your own reusable lunchbox, that’d be great.
Suite Room VS State Room
We don’t really know the exact difference between the two because we’ve asked at least 2 ticket agents and some boat crew and they usually just tell us that they’re basically the same but some ferries just don’t have Suite Rooms, only State Rooms. That’s weird because we find Suite Rooms online but when we buy/get the actual tickets, we see “State Room”.
We’ve tried taking the ferry three times. Twice from Manila to Iligan (via Saint Francis Xavier) and once from Cagayan de Oro to Manila (via St Leo the Great). We’ve been to 2 State Rooms and 1 Suite Room. The St. Francis Xavier crew said our State Room is already their Suite Room because they don’t have an actual “Suite”.
So the difference between the two? A mini fridge and maybe 1 or 2 square meters of space, both of which are lacking in the State Room.
We also asked for a Queen or King bed instead of two twin beds (not sure if they’re twin beds or they’re slightly larger than twin beds) and they said that’s really what they have. 🤷🏻♀️ So I guess if this is a huge thing for you or your family, clarify with 2Go first.
Will Ai recommend it?
Tips for a pleasant boat travel experience in the Philippines:
These tips don’t just apply for trips with 2Go. Having traveled via ferry since I was young (and most especially in college), I’ve learned quite a lot of things when it comes to these things.
✓ BRING FOOD – lots of it. Aside from the fact that food sold on the ship costs an arm and a leg, passengers on Economy/Mega Value and Tourist accommodations usually don’t have meals included (unless they paid an additional fee). And besides, you have ample baggage allowance! Why not bring a bag of groceries to enjoy during the trip? 😋 Staple baon favorites include adobo, hardboiled eggs, sandwiches, donuts, Vjandep Pastel, crackers and cookies.
✓ SET ASIDE SOME "FERRY" CLOTHES. Put the clothes that you will use during your ferry ride on a separate carry-on bag or you can just fold them on top of your “vacation clothes” in the luggage. This way, you won’t have to unpack and then pack again.
✓ PACK ALL NECESSARY BABY THINGS INCLUDING AN EMERGENCY KIT. From vitamins to medicines to formula to loads of diapers, don't forget about these stuff. You'll never know if these are all available at the ship concessionaires and if they are, they're surely pricey.
✓ BRING SANITIZER OR WET WIPES. This can be useful in so many things including wiping your cot (if you're staying in economy, tourist or cabin bunks).
✓ BRING LOTS OF WATER. Water is expensive there. If you could interest some crew at the restaurant to refill your water, that'd be great.
✓ TAKE A BOOK OR A FULLY CHARGED PHONE WITH YOU. You can't just stare on the wall for hours! LOL. Although television sets are everywhere (lounges, rooms, etc.) and karaoke nights are available, it's still different if you have something that you can enjoy on your own. And what goes with this? CHARGERS. Charging stations are available around the ship. If you're in a suite room, you won't have to worry about keeping an eye on it but if you're charging in a public area, you have to be mindful of your surroundings.
✓ DO NOT USE THE FERRY TO MANILA. This is just my personal preference. Unless you have someone to pick you up at the pier OR you're very patient with waiting for a GrabCar or GrabTaxi to accept your request OR you're traveling light and you have the guts to brave hailing a cab along the highway outside the Port, take the plane. There are a lot of cabs waiting inside the pier but expect soaring $$$$ rates. So if you don't wanna get robbed with overpriced taxi rates, your only chance of scoring better deals is going outside the pier to hail a "regular cab". Or, as mentioned, you can use Grab or have someone you know pick you up.
If you need hotels in Manila, you can book discounted ones here.
So that's our experience with 2Go. Hope this experience helps! 🙂