Andaman Islands getting around by boat and ferry
Transport by private ships - only two islands are served
State ships go everywhere
Government owned boats and ferries connect almost all inhabited islands with Port Blair, the capital. Their primary role is not to do business, but to ensure the connection of even the farthest corners of the archipelago with the capital. Tickets are cheap, but the state management of ticketing is in one simple word: tragic. Tickets can be purchased only 3-4 days in advance, making it impossible to plan any longer trips. During high season, the tickets to and from Havelock can only be purchased on Mondays and Thursdays and only if you wake up early, arrive to the harbor by six in the morning, stay in the line and hope.
Smaller boats, sailing to nearby islands, offer tickets with seat number. On larger ferries, that are available for longer distances, it is possible to take a cabin and sleep comfortably. Whether you are going to sleep with or without cockroaches will be depending on the vessel you are travelling on. We travel both: the cockroaches infested Bharat Seema vessel and perfectly clean Coral Queen. If you have the opportunity to travel to the Coral Queen, certainly do so. It's the cleanest ship in India that I've ever seen.
Buying a boat tickets on Andaman Islands is pretty complex topic, to which we commit a separate chapter. Click the link below to get more info, including links to actual ship schedules.
Buying ship tickets on Andaman Islands
There is no way to avoid sailing while on Andamans, thus take motion sickness pills from home country or buy them in India. (Drugs are ten times cheaper in India then in Europe.) Me and my wife, we suffer from motion sickness easily and we can honestly say, that sailing in Andamans was quite bad, but we survived. When the ship begins to swing, assume horizontal position quickly.
Boat journey to the south, to Little Andaman, takes about 10 hours. Similarly to the north, to Mayabunder or Diglipur journey take 10-13 hours. Boats ply these routes take 3-4 times a week, alternating night and day sailing.
The Port Blair - Neil - Havelock - Strait Island - Long Island - Rangat route is very practical for island hopping. The boat sails on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday towards Port Blair and returns on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday towards Rangat. The journey lasts all day, ie 8-9 hours.