Princess Beatriz

Princess Beatriz ©Aristotle Refugio

Princess Beatriz is a Cargo-Passenger Ship (CPS) which means it takes in cargo primarily and passengers secondarily. As such it has no fixed schedule of trips but only a reference or tentative one and it can be delayed depending on how fast cargo is accumulated. Many of the passengers then will be the shippers themselves or their helpers and agents. However, in the modern times, relatively well-off passengers now take the plane or the ferry with air-conditioned accommodations. As a CPS she will also take in other willing passengers in her simple decks and accommodation. These include her amenities like toilet and bath and eating place and where one could wash. Calling it a mess is already too grand as it could any place where one could sit and that does not necessarily mean there is a dining table. A little primitive now but quaint to some, and simple. Meal is generally not included in the fare but if one has no provision or baon then all he has to do is to contribute some cash to partake with the crew’s meal.

As such fare is cheap, with her Zamboanga- Bongao route just costing P500. She usually departs every two weeks (or three if cargo is slow) and the trip will usually take one and a half days if the weather is not bad for the route which is the length of Cebu-Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte. In that route P500 will only take you as far as Dumaguete and that is not even halfway. So that puts in context the cheapness of her fare.

Princess Beatriz uses the PMS wharf in Baliwasan, Zamboanga City. Baliwasan is the Moro boat pier in Zamboanga hosting several wharfs for destinations in the Sulu Sea and chain of islands in the direction of Sabah.

Unlike Moro boats she is a steel-hulled ship of cruiser design and stern. She was built locally in Zamboanga in 1990. Originally known as MV Nightingale, she held the route Zamboanga-Mapun (which is near Sabah) which is otherwise known as Cagayan de Sulu or later Cagayan de Tawi-tawi.

She is owned by Nickerson Tan and the Tans once ruled Mapun but that is precisely why she left that route. In Moro custom it is normal to accommodate relatives (well, that seems to be also true in many parts of the Philippines especially in the barrio) and problem is the inhabitants of the place are related to them in one way or another.To put it mildly that resulted in weak revenues which was not enough to sustain the operation. That is why she shifted to the Bongao route, a successful route for her by far.

She has two decks, the lower deck is both for cargo and passengers. This is also where the galley is located. The upper deck is also used for lightweight cargo. Going to Bongao she is primarily loaded with groceries and dry goods while when returning to Zamboanga she is primarily loaded with the bounties of the sea.

There are no bunks in the vessel. A necessary design in CPS so cargo can be situated where needed and for ease in loading and unloading. A passenger would then have to pull out of the folding cots (tejeras) and look for a vacant place where it is cool. While filling with cargo the passengers’ cots could also move. That is the SOP in a CPS, the local kind (as differentiated from the CPS then of Compania Maritima or some Wilcons and the ocean-going CPS which have separate passenger accommodations and service crew).

She is 38.2m in length with a GT of 294 and an NT of 221. Her ID is IMO 8946189. What is remarkable about her is she is probably the only ferry hereabouts powered by the revered-in-Mindanao Volvo Penta engine with 450hp giving her a speed of 10 knots.

More photos here:

Princess Beatriz Upper Deck ©Mike Baylon
Princess Beatriz Upper Cargo Deck ©Mike Baylon
Princess Beatriz Engine Room ©Mike Baylon

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