Majestic Fast Ferry: A Singaporean trailblazer

Max Tan explains how the operator is changing the face of ferry travel on the Singapore Strait

Majestic Fast Ferry: A Singaporean trailblazer
Brilliance of Majestic is one of the newest ships to join the Majestic Fast Ferry Fleet

By Justin Merrigan |

Boasting the youngest fleet by far on Singapore Strait, Majestic Fast Ferry offers passengers visiting the Indonesian getaway destinations of Batam and Bintan a fresh perspective when it comes to sea travel. The company bounced onto the scene in December 2014 with a youthful spring in its step and a clear mission to provide an efficient and unapologetically enjoyable travel experience for its passengers. Since then, its fleet has grown dramatically to 14 vessels that provide a total of 80 daily trips between Singapore and Batam and Tanjung Pining in Bintan.

Managing director of Majestic Fast Ferry is Max Tan, a family man with a passion for continually lifting standards on the Strait. “Majestic Fast Ferry has to be bold and innovative to remain competitive and, as such, we are always ready to improvise and pioneer projects to create more accessibility while raising awareness with travellers,” he says.

One such project is the company’s link from Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, serving Changi Airport, to the Riau Islands. This has seen a steady increase in passenger numbers as awareness grows, helped by a shuttle bus running between the airport’s Terminals 1 and 4 every 30 minutes.

Despite all the company has brought to the Strait, the business faces challenges, some stemming from an unexpected quarter. According to Tan, the newly built and technologically advanced fleet faces a competitive disadvantage due to local flag regulations that only affect new vessels, not older, non-High-Speed Craft (HSC) 2000 code vessels.

“The biggest challenge for Majestic Fast Ferry operating from Singapore to Indonesia is that for any new route we want to run, like that from Tanah Merah, we have to make 20 trips with no passengers so that our officers are type-rated before we can submit for a route approval,” he explains. “Being HSC ferries, our vessels have advanced navigational and safety equipment conforming to latest safety standards, but our competitors have very old, non-HSC ships, and these don’t have to run empty trips.

“On top of this, the Singapore Cruise Centre HarbourFront ferry terminal has reached its limit in terms of passenger volume. For us as a ferry operator, increasing our fleet annually, we believe this gives us some difficulties and it certainly reduces the ‘drive’ for us to commit more vessels into this market.

Despite this, Tan is focused on the future. “We are encouraged by numbers on the Tanah Merah service which were boosted with the opening of Jewel Changi Airport – a mainly retail complex,” he says. “Before opening the service, the only ferry link for airport travellers from Batam Centre was via the HarbourFront ferry terminal. So, we have closed the gap between Singapore and the Riau Islands in very real terms; we are easing the congestion and increasing traffic for both countries.”

The airport link is primarily served by a Majestic Grace-class vessel. These are highly comfortable 317-passenger, 39-metre-long, fuel-efficient catamarans designed by Incat Crowther. Travel time from Singapore to Batam is one hour and large numbers of Singapore residents take the opportunity to sail across to Indonesia for day trips or weekend excursions, with tourists also appreciating the fast link across the Strait.

Majestic Fast Ferry’s most recent high-quality vessels are the Incat Crowther 42-metre-long Brilliance of Majestic and Excellence of Majestic built by PT Cahaya Samudra in Batam. A third vessel of this class is currently under construction.

“The Brilliance class is driven by the requirement to carry more passengers more efficiently and at greater speed, while giving business class passengers an exclusive experience,” Tan explains. “From day one of operations, Majestic Fast Ferry is the only operator to have used ultra-low sulphur fuel for our vessels. Every time there is a new technology available, we will carry out feasibility studies on sustainability in terms of environment and commercial efficiency. We’ll continue to follow this commitment.”

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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