RoRo-ing to Palawan

This Friday I’m boarding the ferry for my one-way trip to Palawan.

The ferry is SuperFerry 2. It plies the route to Palawan. It’s the only regularly scheduled steamship to Palawan. It leaves Manila every Friday at midnight and arrives in Coron at Saturday 12 noon. It departs Coron on Saturday at 1 pm and arrives in Puerto on Sunday at 2 am.

Notice, according to the schedule, that the SuperFerry’s docked in Coron for only one hour, between 12 noon and 1 pm on Saturday.

SuperFerry "Sailing Schedule" Palawan

SuperFerry Sailing Schedule to Palawan. Posted on their website.

I went there yesterday to pre-board–to get as much of the boarding effort out the way. I came to present evidence of vehicle ownership (since I was taking my vehicle to another island) and pay for its passage. Most importantly, I came to pay.

This was my experience.

Ferry Terminal

"Eva Macapal Terminal" "South Harbor" Manila SuperFerry Map

Vicinity Map of the SuperFerry Terminal.

The SuperFerry docks at the Eva Macapagal Terminal. Pass through 25th Street.

"25th Street" "South Harbor" Manila Pier SuperFerry

On 25th Street about to enter the compound of South Harbor.

Shortly after you enter, you’ll come to the Eva Macapagal Terminal. Approach it.

"Pier 15" "Eva Macapal Terminal" "South Harbor" Manila SuperFerry

The Eva Macapal Terminal.

"Pier 15" "Eva Macapal Terminal" "South Harbor" Manila SuperFerry

Entrance to Eva Macapagal Terminal.

"Pier 15" "Eva Macapal Terminal" "South Harbor" Manila SuperFerry

SuperFerry 2 docked at the terminal.

MFHRI

"Eva Macapal Terminal" "South Harbor" Manila SuperFerry

Go through the gate in the background and park.

I went through the gate in the background and parked. I told the guard that I was going to the RoRo office.

MFHRI stands for Manila Floating Hotel & Restaurant. I learned this only after googling it. This is the ship hotel that was inaugurated during the term of President Estrada. It started life as Augustus, an Italian cruise ship, and is now known as MS Philippines, Manila’s floating hotel and restaurant.

The MS PHILIPPINES is one of only a handful of perfectly preserved, fully operational, classic ocean liners left in a world of disposable maritime heritage.  Hopefully, the forces that have kept the ex-AUGUSTUS with us to this day will see that she continues to survive, despite dire global economic and political challenges.  Only the ROTTERDAM and possibly the AKDENIZ can match her magnificence, ton for vintage ton.

Is it still operating? There seems to be doubt. I’ll try to eat there anyway this Friday.

Roll-In, Roll-Out

The RoRo office is the 2Go office.

"Eva Macapal Terminal" "South Harbor" Manila SuperFerry

The 2Go Office.

RoRo is short for Roll-In, Roll-Out.

RoRo ships are vessels designed to carry wheeled cargo such as automobiles. Practically anything that can be driven on and off the ship on its own wheels can be transported by a RoRo vessel.

Talk about nonsense.

I went to their office to pre-board. Two weeks ago, in Puerto, I tried to pay for my RoRo passage at 2Go’s Puerto office. They declined and referred me to their Manila office. Go there and pay for your passage to them. It has to be booked at the point of origin.

That’s how I got to my story. I was at their Manila office and this is what I learned. They don’t pre-board. Instead they want you to book your space by phone or through the web and show up on departure day. Then and only then will they go through the work of boarding everyone.

Are you kidding me?

This is management 101. First, boarding is too important a process to compress. You shouldn’t rush through the passenger list–especially because of the cargo: wheeled vehicles. Think of the terrorist threat. Second, think of the benefits of spreading the work. That’s what pre-boarding does–spread the work. It reminds me. Every time a traveler queues at a flight’s boarding gate, pre-boarding is encouraged. That way, when everyone’s lined up, the line will go faster. Three, it minimizes the stress to the agents who, in turn, will be fresher and work better. Here’s a proven system that airlines use to board flights. Airline agents, if I recall, can board 200 passengers within 45 to 60 minutes. Why not adopt some variant of it?

I can’t think of any good reason behind their policy. They’re probably a spreadsheet-based operation. Management probably keeps the company’s financials in a gigantic spreadsheet. Lol. But even a paper-based system will be improved if they allowed pre-boarding. Again, this is their policy:

  1. Customers should book their passage by calling or through their website.
  2. Customers should bring their vehicles at 1 pm. The captain will then allow the wheeled vehicles in. Customers pay their fee and enter the ship.
  3. Customers should be present by 1 pm. There is no benefit to those who arrive at 11:30. (Why not? I wasn’t able to get an answer.)

This post originally came out on Friday, the 27th–this is the same day that I am actually boarding the vessel. This post will only be six hours old while I’m boarding. I’ll be thinking of these words while I wait in line.

Now get this: I didn’t need to bring evidence of vehicle ownership. What? How do you prevent the transport of stolen vehicles? “No sir, we’ll just interview you.” And if we don’t like the results, then we’ll ask to see evidence. That must be the Filipino way.

So I booked through their website and by phone. Their website is terribly confusing. A commercial website must be functional. Can you book passage through their website? The answer: No. I don’t even trust all of its content wholeheartedly.

Testing their patience

Deprived of their website’s usefulness, you had only two options really: call or email them. I decided to do both.

To email them, I went to Contact Us to contact them.

[Reverse Chronological]

I gave you enough information to fill the booking form yourself. Why did you send that spreadsheet to me? You know the scheduled time your ship’s departing, I don’t. I only need to know that it’s departing near midnight and that I should be ready at the pier at 1 p.m.

Here Marichu is the information again:

I want to book my vehicle on this Friday’s departure of SuperFerry 2. I am bound for Puerto Princesa by way of Coron. My vehicle is a Mitsubishi L300 van that measures 5x2x2 meters. I know that I don’t need to buy a ticket for the driver, who is myself.

I went to the 2Go office at the pier ready to pre-boards and pay. They told me that I had to book through the website or by calling your landline. I have done both. Check your records. You should see my name already. I made a phone reservation about three hours ago.

My cell is 9999.999.9999. My full name is Alex Pronove. What else do you need to know?

Thank you.

On May 24, 2011, at 2:17 PM, 2go_freight@2go.com.ph wrote:

Dear Mr. Pronove,

Warm Greetings from 2GO!

Thank you for your interest in shipping with us. For us to facilitate your request, kindly fill-out the attached booking request form completely and send it back to us.

However, please be advised that we’re only accepting Rolling Cargo shipment bound to Puerto Princesa port via Supper Ferry 02.

Should you have other concerns, please feel free to e-mail us at freight@2go.com.ph or call us at our Manila Hotline Service (+632)528-7400. You may also contact us through our website at http://www.2go.com.ph.

Thank you.

At your service,

Marichu Mendador
Customer Relations Specialist

<Revised BRF.xls>
=====================================================================================

ALEX PRONOVE
05/24/2011 10:44 AM

To freight@2go.com.ph
Subject 2GO – Cargo – Roll On Roll Off (RoRo)
Cargo – Roll On Roll Off (RoRo)
Name: ALEX PRONOVE
Address:
Contact No.:

Message:
I want to book my vehicle on this Friday’s departure of SuperFerry 2. I am bound for Puerto Princesa by way of Coron. My vehicle is a Mitsubishi L300 van that measures 5x2x2 meters. I know that I don’t need to buy a ticket for the driver, who is myself. Thank you.

________________________
This message was sent thru http://www.2GO.com.ph

It’s 7 pm and I haven’t received a further email from them. I wonder if Marichu got ticked. If she did and what she did was standard operating procedure, 2Go’s really whacko. If she acted on her own, then she committed an act that seems lazy, first of all.

Filipinos have a ways to go before they learn how to behave professionally. I was going to say according to Western standards but that’s not true. Industrialized Asian societies do it in their own competent way: Asian, yes, but competently so that it suits Western standards. Think Japanese, Singaporean, Korean.

<Don’t take criticism–especially workplace-related criticism–personally.> That kind of criticism is useful feedback that, if they’re smart, is used to improve operations.

Manila Hotel

The last time I visited Manila Hotel was to attend as a guest the wedding reception of my late attorney friend, Boy Espaldon. We were a merry band in U.P. Diliman in the late-70s. We even had a name, 30-minute Decision Group, or 30mdg.

"Manila Hotel" "BRP EDSA" "Coast Guard" "South Harbor" Manila

Manila Hotel and BRP EDSA (foreground)

Zoom in on the preceding and read the words painted on the entrance ramp. To zoom in, click on the photo then click on the photo’s final resolution.

How to enlarge an image

How to enlarge an image

This ship was recently renamed from EDSA II to EDSA. I learned there was a minor controversy over that.  At the beginning of this year, it was still known as EDSA II. If you zoomed in, the whitewashed ‘II’ was still visible.

EDSA’s earning her keep. Last January, she helped a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tanker that encountered engine trouble off Palawan after being battered by rough seas. That would have been an environmental disaster.

BRP EDSA

The BRP EDSA is 56 meters long. Do you know what BRP stands for? Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas. Wow. Well if the U.K. can use HMS, why can’t we use BRP, right?

"BRP EDSA" "MS Manila" "South Harbor" Manila MFHRI "Philippine Coast Guard"

The Coast Guard Search and Rescue Vessel BRP EDSA (foreground) & MS Manila (the floating restaurant)

What was the patrol boat doing here? Why, it belongs to the Philippine Coast Guard.

Headquarters "Philippine Coast Guard" "Manila Hotel"

The Headquarters of the Philippine Coast Guard is a stone's throw away from Manila Hotel.

SuperFerry 2

"SuperFerry 2" "South Harbor" 2Go

SuperFerry 2. I'll be on it this Friday.

I’ll have a lot of stories about this trip, that’s for sure.

RoRos are a big deal. Here, for instance, is an article about the inaugration, only last month, of service between Camarines Sur and Catandanues.

The ferry service in the ports around Lagonoy Gulf would attract bus operators, haulers, traders, and tourists as land travel from Metro Manila to Catanduanes via Nato Port would be cut by two hours.

This route would attract more foreign and local tourists to enjoy the pristine and white Boracay-like beaches of Caramoan and Catanduanes.

Passengers disembark from SuperFerry 1

On my way out, I observed passengers disembark from SuperFerry 1, which was docked on the other side of the terminal.

"SuperFerry 1" "South Harbor" 2Go Manila

SuperFerry 1 disembarking passengers.

Manila SuperFerry "Disembarking Passengers"

Disembarking Passengers from SuperFerry 1

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7 responses to “RoRo-ing to Palawan

  1. I didn’t know that.

    Like

  2. Pingback: SuperFerry’s terrible. | Retired? No way!

  3. yes i think the concerned person who posted her/his comments regarding 2Go is absolutely right. very incompetent

    Like

  4. 2Go Customer Relations ‘Specialists’ are really incompetent! Just experienced it today! Way 2Go Aboitiz!

    Like

  5. you’re right, services sucks!

    Like

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