On July 8 (2017) I took the Pelni from Kei to Banda. I have actually taken Pelni many times before in both directions. The ship is often crowded but it is also can be quite fun and interesting for the approximately 12 hour trip between the 2 islands groups. This is also an inexpensive way to travel as the ticket is only 146,500 IDR one way. You may however, have to plan your trip dates well in advance as these ships aren’t very frequent (usually 2 or 3 a month).
Buying your Pelni ticket
The ticket is sold at the Pelni office in Tual and don’t forget to bring your passport. All of the bemos running between the Langgur market, central Langgur and Tual go right by the Pelni office and the immigration office is next door, should you want to extend your visa . The ticket office is located at the back of the building:
The normal procedure is to write your information on a piece of paper and then submit it to counter 1. Then you should wait for them to call your name, which can take a very long time. In practice for tourists, if you have your information and go to counter 2 they will usually just sell you the ticket.
These are very large reliable boats, although they can often be very late. In 2016, my boat had a 3 a.m. departure time but it didn’t leave until 10 a.m., which wasn’t very convenient. Here’s a photo of the Nggapulu:
Once you are on board the Pelni, there are a few options for places to spend the journey. Probably the best place is on the top deck at the rear of the ship:
There is a restaurant and tables here as well as lots of floor space and sometimes chairs. Another option,if you can find one, are the mattresses in the interior:
Many Indonesians bring paper or mats to sit on and claim their space:
For food there are also a few options. First of all you could bring your own food which is cheap and will allow you to eat whatever you want. Secondly, some passengers set up small shops to sell various food items, as in the photo above. The prices are marked up about 50% compared to prices on land. The third possibility is the restaurant and store on the top deck and this is the most expensive option. The final option is to eat the free food that comes with your ticket. I’ve don’t usually bother with the free food but a nice passenger I was sitting with brought this one for me:
Arrival and Practicalities
On arrival in Banda, the exits and immediate area are extremely crowded. The narrow roads near port are filled with people and also motorbikes trying to push themselves through the masses.
For additional information on travelling by Pelni, also check out this post from short-trips.com