In the end he managed to get to the ferry with the help of blogger, Arun Rajagopal, who tweeted the information to him on Twitter (isn't social media great?).
Having read numerous articles about the ferry to Musandam I figured it would be as easy as taking a bus or a plane. All I needed to do was find out the schedule, get in a taxi and go to the ferry terminal at the right time.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way.
It seems that everyone I’ve talked to in Oman has heard of the ferry, but no one actually knows anything about it. I’ve spoken to five travel agents near my hotel. None of them offer ferry tickets nor know where to go to get tickets. No one in my hotel knows anything. None of the cab drivers know anything or where to take me to get a ticket. There is no website for the ferry company. All the searches you do bring up articles about the ferry, but no actual information on how to get tickets nor can I find links to a website from the articles. I have been told by one taxi driver you get tickets in Ruwi, but he didn’t know where that was. One Omani told me that they are only for government officials (which I have no idea if that is true).This huge investment the government made in high speed, world class ferries is pretty much useless as no one knows how to take it, even if they wanted to.
Gary later posted a damning review of the whole situation on his blog in which he calls the Musandam ferry: "perhaps the worst run business I have ever witnessed in my life". He goes on to detail why as follows:
Why is this a horrible business?
- The car ferry has never transported a car. In the excitement to have the world’s fastest ferry, they never built a ferry terminal to support loading cars onto the boat. It only carries passengers right now. I have seen no activity towards building an actual terminal for cars.
- The flight to Khasab is 55 minutes versus 5 hours for the ferry. The cost is the same. An airplane can carry as many vehicles as the ferry right now: zero. You have to show up at the ticket office two hours before the ferry leaves to get on a bus to take you to the ferry.
- The operating costs of the ferry are enormous. It burns 18,000 liters of fuel each trip. Even though Oman is an oil producer, with subsidized fuel it is almost impossible to break even with a full boat. There were about 10 crew on board the ship that I could tell and there would probably be more if they had to load cars. The snack bar was open and everything was free. There were about 20 passengers on the boat when I took it.
- There is no website where you can buy tickets. There are no agents which you can buy tickets from. I’ve seen no marketing material of any sort except for a very nice full color brochure you get after you buy a ticket. There has been no advertising and no one in Muscat seems to know anything about the ferry other than it exists and it is the best in the world.
- Musandam, the destination for the ferries, has a total population of 30,000 people and three hotels. They probably couldn’t support a full boat of people if they had one.
- The ferries were not designed for long haul routes. They were designed for trips no greater than an hour. The engines are being used far more than they were designed for with 5 hour trips. As a result, mechanical problems and issues with spare parts will start creeping up over the next few months.
He ends his rant with: "The ferry is sort of a microcosm of what you see in much of Oman: pretty cool looking, but sort of dysfunctional once you look behind the scenes." [link]
It's been six months since the ferry was launched, what excuse does the National Ferr Company have for still not having set up a website for its service? You'd think that with their ferries going close to empty most of the time they'd actually do everything they can to let the whole world know about them. This is definitely not the kind of comments the Ministry of National Economy was hoping for when they launched this service, but then again who can they blame but themselves for the continuing bad publicity that this service keeps getting.
You can read all Gary's posts about Oman by clicking here.
Related post: Ferry to Khasab