The Zamboanga Ferry of George & Peter Lines is the only ferry now left in the Cebu-Zamboanga route that just emanates from Cebu. When 2GO does not sail this route, she is the only ferry available unless one wants to try the tiring and stressful part-bus trip via Dipolog which is even more expensive and involves many transfers.
Zamboanga Ferry is not a fast ship as it is a remnant of an older era but at least it is comfortable and spacious. She will leave Cebu on Monday nights at 10pm and at dawn she will be in Dumaguete. When all is finished there she will leave for Dapitan usually at daybreak and arrive there about 10am. She will leave Dapitan approximately noon and arrive in Zamboanga the next day at 3am.
She will then leave Zamboanga the same day at about 4pm if she finishes loading and arrive in Dumaguete at daybreak the next day and bypassing Dapitan. Leaving when all is done and finished and that will be before mid-morning she will arrive in Cebu in mid-afternoon if there are no delays along the way.
Then on Friday nights, Zamboanga Ferry will undertake a Cebu-Dumaguete-Dapitan trip. That is second voyage for the week and a shorter one. She will retrace that route on Saturday late afternoon, leave Dapitan by midnight, arrive on Cebu on Sunday early morning and lay over in Cebu until her Monday departure for Zamboanga.
Zamboanga Ferry was the former Tanegashima Maru No.2 in Japan, a ferry from the southern tip of Shikoku, the southernmost main island of Japan to Tanegashima Island which is located south of Shikoku. Ferries in Japan traveling in the open sea puts a premium on stability and so this ferry is known for that. Her sister ship in the Philippines was the broken-up Don Martin Sr. 8 of Palacio Lines.
Tanegashima Maru No.2 was built by Honda Shipbuilding Company in Saiki yard in 1970 with the IMO Number 7377660. She is a ROPAX with the distinctive Honda bridge profile of the period and a twin car/cargo deck. She measures 74.3/69.0 meters (LOA/LPP) x 12.2 meters breadth with a Depth of 7.2 meters and originally, she was only of 499 gross register tons. This ship is powered by a single Hanshin diesel engine with 2,300 horsepower on tap. Her original service speed was 15 knots.
In 1993, she came to the Philippines for George & Peter Lines and was renamed as the Zamboanga Ferry. She was refitted and additional structures and passenger accommodations were built. She now measures 851 gross tons with 408 net tons and a passenger capacity of 708 persons. On commissioning she was the best ferry in the fleet of George & Peter Lines of the brothers of William Chiongbian of William Lines.
As refitted she was a three-class ship with two Tourist cabins below the foredeck, the galley and the restaurant behind that (which also serves as a videoke and as lounge) and Cabins at the center (this was now converted into Tourist Deluxe). At the aft of the passenger decks are the Economy sections and at the rear of the upper deck is the Economy dining area and next to that is a canteen/kiosk. Built as an overnight ship, the meals are not free and must be purchased separately.
The ship has two masts with a single side funnel. Her stem is raked and the stern is transom and located there is a good three-piece vehicle ramp. There are cargo ramps on the sides which makes her capable of loading when docked sideways. There are two passenger ramps on each side and two other passenger ramps on the stern. With a total of six passenger ramps she might be the ship with the most passenger ramps in the country.
Although she can take in vehicles most of the load of Zamboanga Ferry is loose cargo and loaded mainly by forklifts. Her lower cargo deck is accessible by ramp and in loading the cars can be parked on the side cargo deck to ease obstruction. Her main cargo deck however has a permanent obstruction as auxiliary engines are located there in a separate housing. Zamboanga Ferry also has a loft in the stern with is used for porter-carried cargo and cargo that needs to be separated from the hot car/cargo deck.
With passenger load light now a passenger just picks the bunk that he or she likes. The Economy is airy when running and the cold of Tourist is just right if not full. The Tourist Deluxe however very cold. One can order meals from a menu but it is mainly the fried processed meat kind. In the intermediate ports the passengers go down the ship and buy from the food stalls in the pier. Many do as that is cheaper and has the ‘sinugba’ the Bisaya loves.
The schedule of the ship is light with enough lay-overs. The engine needs that as it is no longer strong. She only runs at 9 knots now and sometimes the engine conks out and she can’t travel as she is a single-engined ship. In a weak storm she was washed ashore and grounded in Dumaguete because of that.
In spite of her age and weaknesses, she is still sailing bravely soldiering on. I hope she does not yet go away.
More Zamboanga Ferry Photos by Mike Baylon: CLICK HERE