Travelling by Ferry in the Maldives

June 23, 2024

Travelling by ferry in the Maldives is a unique and the cheapest way to explore the numerous islands scattered across the archipelago.

The Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) is the primary ferry operator in the Maldives. MTCC operates under the Raajje Transport Link (RTL) brand. The comprehensive transport network connects a significant portion of the Maldivian population, providing safe, affordable, and convenient transportation services.

Pros of Travelling by Ferry in the Maldives

  • Cost-Effective: Travelling by ferry is one of the most cost-effective ways to move between the islands. Ferry tickets are generally much cheaper than domestic flights or private speedboats, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious travellers.
  • Scenic Views: Ferries provide passengers with stunning views of turquoise waters and picturesque islands of the Maldives.
  • Environmental Impact: Ferries have a lower environmental impact compared to air travel. They contribute less to carbon emissions, making them a more sustainable option for inter-island travel.

Cons of Travelling by Ferry in the Maldives

  • Limited Frequency: Ferries often have limited schedules and may not run as frequently as other modes of transport. This can be inconvenient for travellers with tight itineraries or those needing to travel at specific times.
  • Weather Disruptions: Ferries are more susceptible to delays and cancellations in the monsoon season due to rough seas and storms compared to flights or speedboats.

Travelling by Public Ferry in the Maldives

MTCC operates various ferry services under the RTL brand. These include high-speed ferries that connect atolls and islands, providing both passenger and cargo transport. The network is divided into several zones, each covering specific atolls.

Public Ferry Zones

  • Zone 01: Haa Alifu Atoll, Haa Dhaalu Atoll, and Shaviyani Atoll
  • Zone 02: Noonu Atoll, Raa Atoll, and Baa Atoll
  • Zone 03: Kaafu Atoll, Alifu Alifu Atoll, Alifu Dhaalu Atoll, and Vaavu Atoll
  • Zone 04: Meemu Atoll, Faafu Atoll, Dhaalu Atoll, Thaa Atoll, and Laamu Atoll
  • Zone 05: Gaafu Alifu and Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll
  • Zone 06: Seenu Atoll and Gnaviyani Atoll

How the Public Ferry Service Works

Navigating the public ferry service can be a bit complex due to the variety of routes available. Here’s a breakdown to help clarify how it works:

Intra-Atoll Ferry

  • Route: Intra-Atoll ferries travel within one atoll, linking various islands.
  • Stops: The ferry starts from a main point and stops at several islands in the atoll, then returns to the starting point.

Inter-Atoll Ferry

  • Route: Inter-atoll ferries connect islands from different atolls within the same zone.
  • Stops: These ferries stop at multiple islands along their route, typically from one atoll to another.

Greater Malé Region Ferry

  • Route: The Greater Malé Region ferry service provides direct connectivity between Malé and the nearby islands of Vilimale, Hulhumale, Gulhifalhu, and Thilafushi.
  • Stops: These ferries operate without intermediate stops, travelling directly between Malé and each of the destinations: Vilimalé, Hulhumalé, Gulhifalhu, and Thilafushi.

Currently, you can book ferries for zones 1, 2, 5, and 6 through the RTL website or app. Plus, you can book Greater Malé region ferry tickets through RTL as well. However, for Zone 4 you can book some speedboat ferries through MTCC’s Southern Transport Link website.

Public Ferry Schedule

To access the latest public ferry schedules in the Maldives, you can visit the Raajje Transport Link (RTL) schedule at https://rtl.mv/#/schedule-details. For the Southern Transport Link (STL) schedule, go to https://stl.mtcc.mv/. These websites provide up-to-date information on ferry routes, timings, and availability.

Private Ferries in the Maldives

Aerial view of a ferry in the Maldives

In addition to the public ferries, there are a few private ferry operators that provide services to some of the smaller and more remote islands. These private ferries often offer more flexible schedules and can be a good alternative when public ferries are not available. You can also charter a private ferry.

Popular private ferry operators include:

  • iCom Tours: Operates ferry from Malé and Velana International Airport to Maafushi.
  • Altec Maldives Pvt Ltd: Express ferry service from Malé and Velana International Airport to Dhiffushi.
  • Coral Transfer: Daily scheduled speedboat ferry transfer from Malé and Velena International Airport to Rasdhoo, Ukulhas, Mathiveri, Bodufolhudhoo, Gangehi, and Nika Island Resort.
  • Fazas: Transfers between Dhangethi, Dhigurah, Malé, and Velana International Airport.

How to Book a Ferry Ticket

It is recommended to arrive early or book in advance to secure a ticket. This is especially important during peak travel times or when ferries have limited seating.

Online Booking

Tickets for MTCC ferries can be booked online through the RTL website or the RTL travel app. The app is available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Passengers can purchase single-trip or multiple-journey tickets, which remain valid for up to 30 days from the purchase date.

Offline Booking

Tickets can also be purchased directly at ferry terminals for some routes. Vilimalè and Thilafushi ferry tickets can also be acquired at the ferry terminal. Likewise, you can purchase ferry tickets to Hulhumalé at the Hulhumalé Ferry Terminal.

What to Bring When You Travel by Ferry

  • Snacks and Water: While some ferries may have refreshments available, it’s a good idea to bring snacks and water, especially for longer journeys.
  • Raincoat: If you are travelling during the monsoon season, bring a light jacket or raincoat in case of sudden weather changes.
  • Medication (Optional): Consider bringing sea sickness medication if you are prone to motion sickness.

Tips for Travelling by Ferry

  • Arrive Early: Ensure you arrive at the ferry terminal or jetty well before the departure time to secure a spot and avoid any last-minute rush.
  • Check the Schedule: Ferry schedules can change. So, always check the latest schedule before planning your journey.
  • Stay Seated: Remain seated during the journey to avoid injury from sudden movements of the ferry.
  • Boarding and Disembarking: Follow crew instructions carefully when boarding and disembarking the ferry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are ferries available every day in the Maldives? Ferry availability varies by route. While some routes operate daily, others may have services only on specific days of the week. Always check the latest schedule before planning your trip.

Can I book a ferry ticket in advance? Yes, you can book tickets in advance through the RTL website or app. However, some routes may require you to purchase tickets at the terminal.

What happens if my ferry is cancelled due to bad weather? If a ferry is cancelled due to bad weather, you may need to wait for the next available service or explore alternative transportation options like speedboats.

Are there any free ferry services available in the Maldives? Certain groups, such as Maldivian nationals aged 65 and above, children under the age of 3, and people with special needs, can travel for free on some ferry routes by providing valid ID cards.

How do I know which ferry to take? Refer to the RTL app or website for detailed schedules and routes. You can also inquire at ferry terminals for assistance.

Can I carry luggage on the ferry? Yes, ferries generally allow luggage. However, there may be restrictions on size and weight, so check with the operator beforehand.

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