Frequent ferries connect Dar Es Salaam to Zanzibar. We opted to take an afternoon ferry that took two hours to make the ~80km crossing.
Let me start out with a warning: the “porters” at Dar Es Salaam ferry port are the most aggressive I have ever seen. We drove up to the port in a pricey hotel car from the nearby Hyatt and were instantly surrounded by a mob of men eager to help us with our bags. And when the men saw that my friend walked with a cane, they were not going to take no for answer.
Fighting for our bags, eventually a trio of men “won out” and started leading us toward the dock with our bags in their hands (we only had one carry-on bag each, but somehow three men were necessary).
- ECONOMY = $35
- BUSINESS = $35
- VIP = $50
- ROYAL = $60
That is one-way pricing above for foreigners, about double the price for Tanzanians.
We proceeded through a cursory security check (metal detector, bag search) and then were hit up for money from the porters just beyond the security checkpoint but well before reaching the point (still a few hundred yards away).
I insisted that they accompany us to the boat, which they did. Each were tipped $5 and one began to argue that it wasn’t enough. I looked at him in the eye and said, “You got $5 for 10 minutes of work. That is more than I make.” He walked away.
Onboard the Ferry to Zanzibar
Onboard, I would hardly call our ship cabin “business class” but it wasn’t bad. Seating felt like what a ultra-widebody jetliner might one day look like: 3-4-4-3 with three aisles. A pirated James Bond movie was playing without sound.
Passengers were asked to store bags in the baggage closet in the back of the cabin. Honestly, I glanced back every few moments because there were people just standing in the baggage hold the entire journey. The cabin seemed to be overbooked because there were not enough seats for all passengers.
Before pushback, a safety video was screened and I verified that life vests were under our seats. The ride itself was fairly smooth. Despite no power ports or wi-fi, I was able to get work done on the ferry and we reached Zanzibar just at the peak of sunset.
And then the story gets really interesting…come back later today to read all about it.