It was a hot sunny day and the air was dry. Few moments earlier we were rushing from the train station to get to the International Ferry Terminal. The Departure Hall was almost empty when we arrived and graduatelly started to fill up. The first clue that we were headed to Korea was the organized chaos among the passengers in the terminal.
According to the departure procedures, we were to arrive at the terminal at least two hours prior to departure. Although there was enough time, and for sure the ferry wasn’t to leave without any of the passengers, people started to slowly claim their place in line by putting their luggage in front of the check-in barrier.
After clearing the immigration we boarded a bus, which transported us across the terminal to the Panstar’s cruise ship. Dilyan was in front of me as we entered the big ship. The entry was via few narrow escalators, that challenged the balancing abilities among the older passengers.
We got our room key from the front desk and headed to our class B cabin. There were four bunk beds in the small cabin. I got worried that we may had to share the small room, because I knew we bought the last available tickets. But as the journey continued nobody came to the room and we had it all for ourselves. The room was rundown and it was freezing inside. The cruise ship was served by a main air con and we didn’t had access to change the temperature. Instead we asked the front desk for some sellotape and taped the vent.
We left our backpacks in the room and headed to the cafe on the main deck. Just before departing from the terminal, the cafe opened and served welcome drinks and snacks, free of charge (to read: crazy and excited people were running around and lining up for some free soda and Korean waffles). This was the only place on the ship where we managed to connect to the Wi-Fi, and the internet connection was really good throughout the whole journey.
The ship had a convenience store, french fries vending machine, rice vending machine and a sauna. There was no trace of the attractive services promised by the Panstar’s leaflets. The ferry departure was delayed and we missed some of the scenic spots. We only managed to see the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge and the Great Seto Bridge, while sailing in Japanese waters, so we sort of pretended to be on a proper cruise. Everyone who wished to visit the Captain’s control centre was welcomed by the crew. We stayed with the Captain for awhile, before heading back to the lower deck.
The entertainment was narrowed down to a piano performance and a karaoke party, with drunk Koreans singing all time disco hits. Dinner was buffet style, with plenty of rice, chicken, pork and noodles. There were also fresh fruits and a salad bar. The choice for drinks wasn’t that good with only few options of water, cheap juice that left a chemical-like aftertaste and wine. The breakfast was ‘western style’ so the fried noodles and rice were accompanied by cornflakes and bacon.
I was happy that we didn’t took a flight to Korea, but instead had our own beautiful farewell with Japan. Being the only westerners on board wasn’t a problem and we had a great time sailing the Japanese and South Korean seas. The ferry has docked in Busan and we set on a race to reach Seoul.