2GO Travel: A Diary

Before low-cost airline carriers came about, sea travel was the budgetarian way to go. Travelling by ship in the Philippines is basic stuff. It's very efficient in getting you from point A to B in this 7000-strong archipelago.

Open deck

Odd as it may sound, spending a night aboard a passenger ship is something that's only recently ticked off my bucket list, so excuse the amateur ship lingo from here on.

Boarding on an afternoon from Cebu pier, we expected to reach our destination - Iligan in Mindanao - early the next day. The vessel? 2GO Travel's M/V Saint Francis Xavier I.

Cebu Pier waiting gate

First order of business was to look for our assigned seats. Well, they're not really seats but sleeper bunk beds. Based on the ticket class you booked, your space could be in a large dorm type room, a small family size room, or a private room.

dorm room

The beds are bare but you can opt to pick up a pillow and a blanket for an additional fee. Just ask the attendant for assistance.

Our vessel undocked just a few minutes after we boarded and I marvel at its steady movement out of the Cebu-Mactan channel.

2Go concierge

Now, a quick familiarization tour around the lower deck. There, I find the concierge desk, main cafeteria, a convenience store, chapel and (whoa!) a fully functional salon and spa. Most areas are accessible for the public to roam around in, including the open upper deck. Toilets are not scarce but water supply is a little iffy.

this was a surprise

It's noon, so time to grab our first meal on the journey. Two meal stubs on hand, we use the first one for a basic rice meal. It's a challenge securing a table during a meal service, so I advise you to come early.

dining hall

Later in the afternoon, we venture to the upper deck to watch the sun set. The wide open space is a welcome escape from the confined hallways of the lower decks. I kiss the sea wind and watch the sun set as we approach Mindanao.

spectacular sunset

It is getting dark. We head back down and decide to use our second meal stub. This time, we opted to get an upgrade. For an additional cost, you can enjoy a meal in the Horizon Cafe - an enclosed business class type dining area where there's better seating and food selection.

executive dining

After a satisfied meal, it was time to call it a night. I try to tuck myself in but my mind is still awake and I hear our roommates gathering for a card game. Technically, liquor and gambling (card games included) are prohibited on board the ship but some passengers get away with it. Since sleep was elusive, I concede and get up to watch and chat with the new acquaintances.

semi private

We reach Ozamiz port at around 7:30 PM. A good number of passengers alight, along with their cargo. Two hours must have passed and we still haven't moved an inch from the pier. At that point, I managed to catch some zzz's.

wee hours in Iligan

I awoke to the sound of shuffling feet - passengers gearing up to de-ship. We've arrived at Iligan port. It's 3:00 AM and still light headed from the rush, we make our way down the ship and I finally set foot in Iligan City for the first time.

Random island

Every first time journey is a memorable one in its own way. Although generally uneventful, my 2GO Travel experience from Cebu to Iligan will be a benchmark for future sea travels.

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