Andaman Ferries – how to get around the islandsTim McDonald
Not surprisingly given their geographical nature, navigating the Andaman Islands is mainly done by sea.
Apart from a bus that goes all the way north to Rangat from Port Blair through the tribal areas (hourly from 6.45am until 11am), the two ferry services, government and private, are the only way to hop between the various islands. Particularly those in the south.
The government ferry is a regular service that runs daily or on alternate days, depending on the route.
The arrival point by air or sea into the islands is Port Blair. Hotels are expensive here, and the budget places get booked up early, so most people head out as soon as they can.
Getting ferry tickets can be a pain, but it helps if you have a lady friend (or are a lady yourself), as there is usually a female-only line with very few people, or if not girls can jump to the front of the queue. Don’t be afraid to exploit this as the local islanders will push in if they possibly can, and often the ticket sellers will serve them first unless you object.
For the first two, there are daily boats so head to the ferry jetty to find out times/book tickets.
It returns on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; leaving Long Island at 7.15am.
On Fridays it becomes a fast boat, calling only at Havelock. It leaves Port Blair at 6.30am, getting to Long Island 4 or 5 hrs later. It returns the same day at 2pm, arriving about 7pm.
There are also private ferries with the McCruzz line, and your autorickshaw driver will tell you that these are the only ones that are available, probably for a kickback.
If this is actually the case, there are several classes but you will most likely be paying around three times the price (Gov ferry tickets are about 400rps on average).
My advice, get your tickets early, using a lady, and if not, don’t be afraid to try on the day. I’ve yet to find a ferry whose tickets were completely sold out.
Ask at your hotel/hostel or anyone near the jetty to find out what time is best to turn up – they usually advise an hour before the departure.