An Australian tourist has described a terrifying ferry journey between a popular Bali tourist spot and the mainland – but says it won’t deter him from going back.
Ian Cragg and his girlfriend Natalie boarded a ferry departing Gili Trawangan island off the northwest coast of Lombok last Friday.
The Gold Coast tourists spent three nights on “Gili T” and called the booking company in the morning to confirm their trip back to the port of Sanur near Denpasar.
A friend of his had caught the same ferry the day before and said they had been “floating at sea for one hour” with choppy waters making it impossible to keep moving without taking on water.
After being told the first ferry of the day had been cancelled, he arrived at the port at 11am, only to wait another three hours for the boat to arrive.
“It’s mayhem and confusing as hell down at the jetty, with no one taking control,” Mr Cragg said, describing the hundreds of people piling onto the tiny jetty.
“An absolute sh*t show.”
He said when the boat finally arrived, its passengers looked “gaunt and pale” with one Australian saying as they disembarked: “that boat should never have gone”.
But with no option to get back to the mainland, Mr Cragg boarded the ferry with around 60 other passengers – many of whom were Australians.
“It was fine at first, until we got to the main passageway – that’s when things really started to get hairy,” he said.
“This big wave hit the side of the boat and the windows blew in, drenching the tourists.
“The windows must have been plastic because thankfully they didn’t smash.”
Mr Cragg said people were panicking and moving to the back of the boat as two crew members rushed to the window and began busily working to fit a piece of plywood in the window.
“I definitely felt in danger, but we were close enough to land to know that if the worst were to happen, hopefully help wouldn’t be too far away,” he said.
Mr Cragg said when they were back safe on the mainland, his taxi driver told him that “it happens all the time” during the wet season.
“For most of the year, the water is fine, but it gets bad between December and February during the wet season,” Mr Cragg said.
His comments come after multiple reports of wild boat rides to island destinations from Bali.
Shocking video emerged earlier this week of a speed boat capsizing off the coast of Nusa Penida while transporting 28 passengers to the same port Mr Cragg was headed to.
Choppy grey waves lapped at the Kebo Iwa Express ferry as multiple people wearing life jackets jumped into the water on Tuesday afternoon.
Two Australian tourists were among the tourists forced to jump into the water, two nautical miles from the shore, the ABC reported.
One of the passengers told NCA NewsWire waves quickly overwhelmed the boat, causing it to sink.
He said all passengers were now safe and there were no casualties.
“If I was going to go again, I would just pay the money to fly to Lombok instead,” Mr Cragg said.
He said he would “definitely go again” and even recommended visiting the island, which he said was “so beautiful”.
“The locals there were amazing and so accommodating; they were so happy to be welcoming tourists back,” he said.
“They just need a better and safer ferry infrastructure in place between the islands.”
“I would say to avoid bringing kids on the ferries during times when bad weather is expected, keep in contact with your ferry provider before departing, sit as close to an exit as possible, have a fully charged phone and make sure you’re a confident swimmer … ”