Starting in October, ferry rides to the Koh Rong islands from Sihanoukville will take only half an hour, down from the current two hours, via a new $650,000 boat.
The 100-seat catamaran ferry was purchased by the Koh Rong Dive Centre and will arrive from Thailand at the end of September, said Sakip Capal, the dive centre’s managing director.
The centre operates most of the boat rides from Sihanoukville, the main gateway to the islands.
The Sihanoukville-Koh Rong-Koh Rong Samloem journey will occur once in the morning, and again in the afternoon. Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem islands are separated by a distance of four kilometres.
Currently, the dive centre operates three smaller ferries that are modified wooden fishing boats. “When the weather gets stormy, there’s always a risk [of an accident], so they are not 100 per cent safe,” Capal said.
Conversely, the fiberglass catamaran is “designed for bad weather”, and is “lighter and safer on the waves”, he added. The new vehicle will replace the old ones, unless “there are too many people [who need a ride]”.
While private speedboats already offer a half-hour journey, they can only transport up to 14 people and cost $200. With the new ferry, the prices will be similar to the existing ferry ticket prices – $10 for a one-way journey – so that everyone can afford a fast ride, Capal said.
ANA Travel’s owner, Anna Spencer, told the Post her travel agency, located in Sihanoukville, gets up to 80 customers a month visiting Koh Rong’s islands. “They would love it so much if there was a cheap and fast way there,” she said.
Her customers sometimes complain about the long journey, and a few even become seasick during the ride.
With the fast ferry, tourists will also be able to reach Sihanoukville quickly in case of emergency, because “on the island there are no doctors if anything happens”, Spencer added.