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I have already read the general question here about ferry safety in Indonesia. However since the trip is supposedly only 20 miles, I am trying to find if it would be safe for a 20 member group to use this as a reliable means of transport both up and down from Singapore.

The primary reason to ask this question is that someone has already planned this trip and they did not seem to factor in the safety part at all and I need to either say yes to participate, no to participate or altogether shoot down the idea if it would be too unsafe for anyone. Reading this page on travelfish adds to the confusion.

Anyone have experience of this route? Just so that I add the detail (in which spirit answers have been made) to ensure that this question isnt too broad or opinion based, I was only worried about accidents and personal life safety being a cause of concern.

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    For anyone? They're used every day by regular people. Are you looking for a subjective 'yes' or 'no', or what? – Mark Mayo Jan 12 '15 at 13:22
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    I think these kinds of worries (I'm not meaning to downplay your own personal fears, really I'm not) are the end result of the "information age." Even a hundred years ago, the "world press" would only report on the strange, or the super. "Ferry kills 100 in totally calm seas, no explanation given, investigators investigating" or "ferry sinks with 1000 people clinging to the rafters"...now, any tragic accident involving more than say 10 people, especially if some of those killed are "Western".... garners reporting somewhere in the world.... adding to the regular person's irrational fears. – CGCampbell Jan 12 '15 at 13:48
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    @CGCampbell: Rubbish. Such things have long been reported, more due to the nature of the news than the modern information age. Ferry sinkings could be compared to "bus plunges", which have been very common in mountainous parts of the world for a very long time and have been used as a kind of filler in newspapers for just as long. – hippietrail Jan 13 '15 at 6:48
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    Relevant meta discussion: Personal Safety – hippietrail Jan 13 '15 at 13:10
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    I know this is an old question, but: @hippietrail rubbish back at you. Back in the days before the global superhighway, there were newspapers and the 6 o'clock news. It had to be a really really slow day before we saw (or read) about anything beyond the extraordinary. In the current 24h/day news cycle, we see more 'regular accidents' than EVER before. Perhaps you have always been a world traveler and saw news like this because of your traveling, but I for sure did not. – CGCampbell Nov 30 '15 at 17:46
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I live in Singapore, and have taken ferries to Batam and Bintan (another nearby island).

Let me first clear up the confusion you have acquired by reading that page on Travelfish.org. They mention that the ferry to Indonesia takes "a couple of days" and "is no cheaper than flying." They are not referring to the ferry to Batam, but rather to the overall journey from Singapore to Java, which as outlined in the article takes three legs, Batam being the first, easiest, and least significant.

With that out of the way: these ferries are extremely safe. The terminal and vessels bear some resemblance to a small airport, and none to the sometimes-chaotic "bumboat" ferries that make short trips elsewhere in the region. The ships are proper ships, with proper seating, very seaworthy in appearance, and completely sealed against the weather (which is often calm anyway).

The ferry trip is not very long and the crew are professional. Singaporeans in general are not people who tolerate unsafe conditions (and there are plenty of them taking these ferries, due to work and also the many golf courses in Batam and Bintan).

Enjoy the trip. If it weren't for the interesting scenes of cargo ships everywhere, you'd probably find it boring!

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    +1. I lived in Singapore and took ferries to Batam & Bintan numerous times, and this is spot on. It's worth underlining that the Singapore Strait between Sg and Batam is surrounded by islands on almost all sides and is thus generally a very placid stretch of water. – jpatokal Jan 13 '15 at 1:39
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Background: I'm reading "The Lunatic Express" at present, which tries to open travellers' eyes to the fact that these 'terrifying' roads, buses and ferries are part of thousands of peoples' daily commutes. Yes, they're probably more dangerous than your car ride this morning at home, but people take them every day without concern.

In the book, Carl Hoffman takes the most dangerous ferries, flights and more that he can find. At the end, he asks an actuary to calculate the risk of his trip. The actuary calculates that if he did the whole trip 100 times (ie travelled non-stop on these dangerous transportation methods for 44 years) there'd be a 95% chance of him still being alive(!).

So one trip from Singapore (a very modern and safe city) on a ferry is likely to be pretty safe - it's more the thought of danger that is upsetting. Indeed, if it helps, the Batamfast ferry states:

"All ferries are certified for the ISM (International Safety Management) Code in 1998 as directed by the IMO (International Maritime Organisation). "

Not sure which one you're looking to take, but odds are you're probably going to be fine.

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    Thanks, frankly I would not have asked that question if I had not seen the link in the question from travelfish and the answer pointed which says the only risk is you sink :P – skv Jan 12 '15 at 13:36
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    @skv As opposed to Ferries colliding, pirates, terrorists, fires from old boilers/wooden superstructure, petty thievery, etc. If the only "real" danger is sinking, I would be OK with that. Every man made craft on water will sink... eventually. If there happens to be a typhoon the day of your journey, well, that's not the ferry line's fault, but whether they travel or not, and whether you go with, or not, would be your fault ... or not. – CGCampbell Jan 12 '15 at 13:44
  • 5% of 100 means 5 times. He would have died, on average, 5 times out of on hundred trips. On average, over the 44 years, he would die on the trip about every nine years. – hippietrail Jan 13 '15 at 6:52
  • 5 per cent means 5 per hundred. Where does the 20 come from?? \-: Are you confusing one fifth and five percent? – hippietrail Jan 13 '15 at 12:48
  • But you said all 20 people doing it 100 times. That now makes 2,000 trips total and 5% of 2,000 is 100. – hippietrail Jan 13 '15 at 13:00
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I have taken the ferry to Batam before, and they operated really well. It was clean, on time, spacious. Many Singaporeans (who are very safety-conscious) take this mode of transportation.

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The ferries do sink- and you can live. Sinking is a part of being on the water. Ride at your own risk or never leave the house for fear of death- then again there is always carbon monoxide. I missed this boat by pure luck last night. Wow! http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/about-100-passengers-rescued-after-batam-singapore-ferry-strikes-floating-object "About 100 passengers rescued after Batam-Singapore ferry hits floating object"enter image description here

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    Cars crash. Planes crash. Pedestrians crash (well, trip, or get hit or something). The fact something happens once isn't an indication on how safe or otherwise it is. This is an interesting event, but it's not an answer. – Doc Nov 30 '15 at 6:58
  • Also, based on this the safety procedures seemed OK: floating object wasn't the operator's fault, they had life rafts and jackets, and there were no injuries, much less deaths. A good reminder of why taking any (smallish) boats at night is not a great idea though... – jpatokal Nov 30 '15 at 10:05
  • A very up-to-the-minute answer, but is it relevant? It's been three years with no serious incidents that I'm aware of since the question was asked. And even in this week's incident, the ferry did not sink. Some life rafts did, however, reinforcing old sailors' wisdom that it's better to stay on the ship unless absolutely forced off. – John Zwinck Dec 1 '15 at 6:36

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