National Ferries Company ( NFC – الشـركة الوطـنية للعبارات) provides transportation services between various destinations along the Omani cost, most importantly between Muscat and Khasab in the Musandam peninsula. The ferries also connects Khasab to Shinas in the North Al Batinha region , and Khasab to Liwa which is also on the Musandam peninsula and is not accessible by road. Apparently NFC also plans to offer ferry services to Masirah island, which will be a welcome addition due to the unpredictability of the current ferry services there.
Our experience on the NFC ferry ride was on our way back from Khasab to Muscat. We drove to Khasab via UAE and had decided earlier to take the ferry back along with the car.
We booked our tickets from Muscat in advance, and would like to share the following points to keep in mind if you are looking to booking tickets with NFC:
- The NFC website does not offer online booking and you need to go to the Muscat office to make a booking.
- You have to book and purchase your tickets 24 hours before the trip. You cannot buy tickets on the spot at the time of departure.
- All passengers must provide a copy of an ID showing dates of birth and the full name when purchasing a ticket. If you plan on buying tickets for other people, make sure you have their ID numbers, dates of birth and full names (best to have a photo copy of their ID).
- The travel timings shown on the website are estimate and subject to change. We only found out the exact time once we purchased the tickets and we were not informed that the timings are changed from what is on the website.
- If you plan to take your car that is not registered under your name, make sure you have a letter from the owner stating that is OK and a copy of the owner’s ID card, otherwise you can’t get the car on the ferry.
- Know the opening times of the office you are visiting, the Khasab office closes at 12:30 on Thursday for example.
The list has more negatives than we would like it to, but the booking process for the ferry seems to be much more complicated than it has to. The website should just provide online booking and you get the exact timing of your trip one your ticket and that is it!
Schedule and Fares:
The Muscat-Khasab ferries operate 4 days a week, leaving Muscat Sundays & Wednesdays 12:00 pm and leaving Khasab Tuesdays & Fridays 12:00 pm. If you wanted to take the ferry to Khasab for the weekend it will be almost impossible to fit it with your working schedule unless you took Wednesday off, especially if you consider having to be at the port 2 hours in advance. Having the ferry trip at a later hour in Wednesday will inevitable make it a more attractive option for Muscat residents wanting to visit Musandam, and we presume also to Musandam residents working in Muscat!
The Khasab-Muscat route costs about 23 R.O per person (one way), which is reasonable for a 5 hours ferry ride that saves you from having to drive ~500 kms. There is also an extra charge if you are taking your vehicle on-board, and it depends on the the type of vehicle (saloon, 4X4, etc..).
The Ferry Ride:
The good news is that once you get your tickets its smooth sailing from there! You have to be in the pot 2 hours prior to departure, we noticed passengers boarding up to an hour before departure so may be this is not strictly enforced. We found the ferry ride to be very comfortable and smooth and the staff on-board professional and courteous. The chairs are comfortable and there are TVs inside, with meals and snacks provided in the trip which took about 5 hours.
Overall, we really enjoyed taking the ferry from Khasab to Muscat, and would definitely consider taking the ferry again if we were to visit Khasab and the beautiful Musandam peninsula.
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