First day of Singapore-Desaru ferry service sees healthy crowds of families

Passengers boarding the ferry to Desaru from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on July 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Passengers collecting their goodie bags from MPA and Desaru Coast at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on July 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
From July 7 to Oct 6, ferry operator Batam Fast is charging $98 for a return ticket for bookings. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Passengers boarding the ferry to Desaru from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on July 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Passengers onboard the ferry to Desaru from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal on July 7, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - After more than two years of not being able to go for his weekly getaway in Desaru, in Johor, retiree Chong Fook Choi, 76, made the journey on Thursday (July 7) with three other family members.

Instead of driving there like he used to, he took a ferry. He was among the 140 passengers who boarded the first Desaru-bound vessel as a new ferry service between Singapore and Desaru began operations on Thursday.

Mr Chong said: "We plan to visit the fruit farm, sightsee and relax at the clubhouse. As my granddaughter has never taken the ferry, I decided to take my family on this trip to have fun."

Another passenger, marketing manager Kim Low, was at the ferry terminal in Tanah Merah with his wife and two children, aged two and five, as well as his mother-in-law who had come from Japan.

"It's my first time going to Desaru. We wanted a short getaway with my mother-in-law while she is in Singapore and we booked it spontaneously last week since the ferry service is back," he said.

"We are planning to just relax there, perhaps visit the firefly park today and water park tomorrow. We will be staying for one night and returning to Singapore tomorrow."

A return ticket on the ferry costs $118, while a one-way ticket is $70.

From July 7 to Oct 6, ferry operator Batam Fast is charging $98 for a return ticket for bookings via its website and social media pages.

The ferry, which can take 250 passengers, operates from Thursdays to Sundays. It leaves Singapore at 8.30am and departs from Desaru at 5.30pm, with each trip taking around 90 minutes.

Before the pandemic, travellers could take a 30-minute ferry ride from Changi Ferry Terminal to the Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal in Kota Tinggi in Johor, followed by a 30- to 45-minute drive to Desaru. The ferry service was suspended from March 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Travellers can also reach Desaru by bus, with the ride taking about 2½ hours, depending on traffic conditions and Customs clearance.

A spokesman for Batam Fast said it has seen good response for the ferry service.

"So far for this weekend, the departing trip on Saturday and return trip on Monday are fully booked. Even though we only offer trips from Thursdays to Sundays, we decided to open up for next Monday, a public holiday, for bookings due to the long (Hari Raya Haji) weekend," he added.

Passengers should take along valid travel documents such as passports, entry visas, permits and vaccine certificates.

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