The Seychelles ferry is the cheapest and most widely used means of transportation between various islands in the Seychelles Archipelago. I've only used one ferry before, and that was in New Zealand, on my way from Picton to the Queen Charlotte Track. Although bumpy, it was a lot of fun, especially in comparison to the experience in Seychelles, which was completely different. So what do you need to know before taking the Seychelles ferry?
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Buy tickets in advance
First, you need to buy your tickets in advance. I recommend doing so because some tickets sell out. I bought mine online through Seychelles booking. It was fairly easy to find my way around, understand the schedule and buy what I needed. I bought a ticket to La Digue, a ticket from La Digue to Praslin and from Praslin back to Mahé.
The second thing is that you need to understand how your journey is going to be like. In one word? Chaotic. I am aware that probably the British in me loves to queue, but it really drives me crazy when people queue for ages and then others simply push in at the last second. Is it just me? Doesn't this annoy you too?
Direct Seychelles ferry?
There is no such thing as a direct ferry to La Digue. I honestly thought I will get onto the ferry and be taken straight to La Digue. How wrong I was. I needed to use the ferry from Mahé to Praslin, then change and get another ferry to La Digue (?!?!?!). This may not seem like a big deal, but when you realise you need to claim your luggage, claim another ticket and transfer your luggage yourself from one ferry to another, it becomes a bit annoying. As I mentioned before, chaotic.
The luggage drama
The way it works with your luggage is very confusing. I went to the Cat Cocos offices to leave my luggage with them. Unfortunately, as my tickets were printed at home, I was first directed to another office where I needed to claim my actual tickets. Ok, so this was no big deal. When I returned, I handed over my luggage to Cat Cocos and they put a sticker with "La Digue" on it.
"Is this going straight to La Digue?" I asked. "Yes, yes, madame" was the reply I got. So, no worries, I will have to change the ferry in Praslin, but these people will transfer the luggage to La Digue themselves. Yaaay!
Oh wait, this is NOT what really happened!
When I arrived in Praslin, I found out where I need to get the other ferry to La Digue. I queue and show my printed ticket in order to board, only to be directed to some offices as apparently, I need to get a (different looking) ticket. So, I go to the offices, show them my printed ticket and receive a massive chunk of plastic in return. I show the massive plastic ticket to the man by the ferry just to realise that he will, in turn, take the plastic ticket away from me and let me in. Am I missing something? Is it just me or was this just pointless exercise providing I already had a printed ticket with the journey on it? Anyway, I went ahead and asked what happens to my luggage, if they transfer it themselves.
"No, you have to go back to the previous ferry, pick up your luggage and bring it here to us".
Are you serious? Then why did you put the "La Digue" stickers on it? Nobody knew the answer. Right, so away I go back to the previous ferry and wait for 20 minutes. When I finally got the luggage, I make my way back to the other platform, for the other ferry. Nightmare! Be it, I finally claim my spot on the ferry and relax for another 20 minutes of sea hell.
Oh, but why sea hell you might ask...read on...
The sea nightmare
Just to clarify, I don't usually suffer from motion sickness. I managed to survive the bumpiest ride in New Zealand and laugh all the way through. I have no issues with cars, planes or any other moving mean of transportation. But THIS, this ride from Mahé to Praslin (and then to La Digue), was what I would call a ride from hell. Not only it was bumpy, sickening and horrible, but it lasted for almost an hour. For an hour I tried not to be sick. Well at least I succeeded, but pretty much everyone around me kept vomiting. Of course, this is in itself not very appealing, especially when YOU, yourself are trying very hard not to vomit. It was horrendous. I honestly cannot describe how sick I felt, how horrible the ride was, how everyone was moaning and being disgusting. It was just awful. In fact, it was so bad, I was prepared to pay triple the amount and go back to Mahé by plane. Can you blame me?
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Beat the sea nightmare
Having had such traumatic experience on my way to La Digue, I was obviously dreading the trip back from La Digue to Praslin and from Praslin to Mahé. So whilst on La Digue, I decided to visit the local pharmacy and get some anti-motion sickness pills. I thought, hey, what's the worst it can happen? And for less than £1, I might have just discovered the trick to surviving the sea nightmare. This time though, I made sure to get the best seats on the ferry (will tell you how in a second), had my noise cancelling headphones (click to buy yours) and my cool anti-motion sickness pill. The result? I was in my own bubble. I couldn't care less about what was happening around me. I was not feeling sick and the music definitely helped a lot (not hearing others be sick around me)
How to get the best seats on the Seychelles ferry
Well, this one is a hit and miss I'm afraid. The good news is that you can buy a ticket in business class (which doesn't look much, it's actually quite whatever) but the bad news is that it costs quite a bit extra. If you have unlimited cash for your Seychelles holiday (you lucky thing!) then probably go for this option.
However, if you don't want to spend extra, then the best option is to arrive as early as possible before boarding the ferry and wait in the queue. The good news is that well...you will be the first to get on the ferry, hence you will have priority in getting the seat of your choice. The bad news? Locals tend to just skip the queue and push you to the side in order to get in. Yes, even if you've been waiting for two hours, they will arrive 2 minutes before and simply skip the queue. Nop, nobody will say a word in your defence. The other bad news is that chances are, you will still have a stranger next to you. If you were wise and took a motion sickness pill before the ferry journey, then make sure you get a window seat! It might be tempting to be at the aisle, but don't make this mistake. What happens is, people might get sick and might want to run to the bathroom. YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE AT THE AISLE! Imagine the endless horrific possibilities if the window seater in your row needs to go urgently...and jump over you. No, No, No! So...window seat. Trust me.
Last couple of tips
Even if you don't ever have motion sickness, these rides will kill you. I promise, have motion sickness pills with you. Take them way in advance as per your medicine leaflet. Better be safe than sorry.
Make sure you are in charge of your luggage. Nobody will give a damn if you forget it or you didn't know you need to transfer it yourself. Get off the ferry, claim it, get on the new ferry, get off the ferry claim it.
Oh, and before I forget: DO NOT EAT just before your journey or during your journey. Of course, if you took your awesome motion sickness pills, then you can nibble a little. My advice? Keep clear for a few hours.
I already know you are probably not going to have the trip of your life by using the Seychelles ferry. I hope this article will make your journey a little more bearable. On the bright side, being able to see other islands in Seychelles is totally worth this horrific sea nightmare. Think of the beautiful tortoises in La Digue and the fantastic coco de mer in Praslin.
Over to you now, did I miss anything? Do you have any other tips to survive the Seychelles ferry or did you have an experience you would like to share? Let me know in the comments section below!