Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Kyushu: Kumamoto - Shimabara, Nagasaki by Ferry

If you're planning to travel to Nagasaki from Kumamoto or vice versa, there are several ways you can go about this. The first is by car but as you have to go around Ariake Sea, the drive will take you back up North towards Fukuoka before heading across Saga Prefecture to Nagasaki. With the toll roads, it can take up 3 - 4 hours. The second alternative is by train which follows the same route as the car but requires changing trains in between. And finally, the third method is by ferry which is what I will be talking about in this post.

As we had a rented car as our main form of transportation and only me as the driver, naturally I went with the least exhausting way of getting to Nagasaki from Kumamoto. I opted for the high speed ferry between Kumamoto and Shimbara,  a 30 minutes journey that cuts directly across the Ariake Sea.

I made the necessary bookings for our group one month before departure through their website which was remarkably easy. Reservations for cars are needed in advance while for those travelling without cars or with bikes can just purchase their slot at the port itself. The website has clear instructions in English on how to make the bookings (link) and even what to do when you arrive at the port (link).

The fee for the car includes the driver and any additional passenger will have to pay the adult fees of JPY 1,100 (as of Nov 2019) per person. Pricing for the car varies according to your car type and size. So in my case, it was 1 car (and the driver) plus three adult passengers and we paid JYP 6,650 at the port.

My little tip: Do the reservations on a desktop and open up separate tabs for easier referencing. You can opt to turn on the translate feature on the page for easier understanding.

On the day of our arrival at the Kumamoto Port, a staff was waiting to direct us into the open air parking lot to queue for our slot. He recognised us as tourists and possibly the only ones with a none Japanese name and handed me my numbered slip (with my name on it). The numbered slip had all the details needed to make easy payment at the counter inside. As we still had 30 minutes to go before boarding, my group headed inside the port to check out the shops, cafes and toilet while my mum and I went to settle the payment for our ride. About 10 minutes before boarding, we were instructed to return to our cars to await further instructions.

As we waited, the cars from the ferry from Shimabara disembarked and soon it was our turn. We had to wait for the school buses first before the cars were guided up a ramp to the ferry hold. There were many staff at hand to direct us where to maneuver and when to stop. Additional brakes were applied to the car wheels and everyone were directed upstairs to the lounge to enjoy the ride.

The lounge in the ferry was balling! It looked like the fancy lobby of a sea cruise with a kiosk selling food and drinks. There was an upper and lower deck with U-sofas, high chairs and wide spacious sofas to just flop across. The lower deck was popular with the businessmen for the power plug outlets. This will probably be the only time I complain that a ferry ride was too short - 30 minutes to be exact.

We were notified 10 minutes before disembarkment to return to our cars. I would recommend remembering which was the nearest stairway to your car to save time and for safety. Just imagine 50 over people heading down the narrow stairways to get back to their rides before we docked. Luckily this was Japan so the locals were courteous and patient. Much like how when we drove on, we were guided off the ferry by the staff and were released into Shimabara. More on this little town in my next blog post.

I hope this posting will help you if you're planning to drive from Kumamoto to Nagasaki. There is a cheaper and longer ferry If you have any questions on taking the High Speed Ferry between Kumamoto and Shimabara, just drop me an email at tania.wee@hotmail.com. (for some reason, I don't get notifications when you leave a comment. Or leave your email so I get in touch)

Also I have fantastic news: Sugoi Days has just been listed as one of the top 30 travel blogs in Malaysia on Feedspot!

What is Feedspot? Feedspot is a team of over 25 experts whose goal is to rank blogs, podcasts and youtube channels in several niche categories. Publishers submit their blogs or podcasts on Feedspot using the form at the top of this page. Their expert editorial team reviews and adds them to a relevant category list. Ranking is based on relevancy, blog post frequency(freshness), social metrics, domain authority, traffic and many other parameters. They routinely remove inactive blogs and those which are no longer relevant to a given list. List is updated as we receive new blog submissions and re-ranked every few weeks.

Don't believe me? Check it out here: https://blog.feedspot.com/malaysia_travel_blogs/ 

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