A few weeks ago Gozo Fast Ferry was launched. Maureen Saguna tells us about how this new service is making life easier for Gozitans wishing to travel to different parts of Malta.
If you live in Gozo, you likely fall in one of two categories: you commute to Malta for work or you try to combine as many errands as possible so you only need to dedicate one day every few weeks to the whole ordeal.
I couldn’t even remember the last time I had travelled to Malta for fun. So when Gozo Fast Ferry started operating, after more than a year of avoiding unnecessary travel, I felt it was high time to inject some fun into my days.
So far, I have used their service three times, and I was positively impressed every time. I used their app to buy our tickets, which only took a few minutes. The fact that I knew I would just walk on to the ferry and avoid waiting in any queues was one less thing to worry about.
Tickets can also be bought on their website or at the terminal, and Tallinja Card holders enjoy the best rates. Since the ferries only take foot passengers, boarding is fast. An officer scans the QR code on your phone or printed ticket, and you are guided up the ramp onto the ferry. I noticed some cyclists boarding with their bicycles and a few tourists with heavy luggage. In both cases, the crew guided the passengers to the areas where they could leave their bulky items in a secured spot.
Before my first trip with Gozo Fast, I was unsure about a couple of things. The first was the thought of being seated in an enclosed space which I feared would be crowded, and the other was whether the ride would be smooth.
Although I can stomach force 7 winds on larger vessels, smaller boats tend to make me queasy. I needn’t have worried, because social distance was respected everywhere on board and everyone was required to keep their mask on, and the crossing was as smooth as any I have ever experienced between the islands. In fact, it took me a few minutes to realise we had left Gozo, partly because I was engrossed in deep conversation with my husband, but also because Gozo Fast’s vessels are wave-piercing, which means that they practically glide over water.
Their unusual hull also makes their vessels more eco-friendly. According to naval architecture expert Engineer Kurt Gutteridge: “The hulls are specially designed for maximum efficiency at the operating speed, which is evident by the very low wake generated by the vessels, even when operating at full load and full speed. Furthermore, these vessels are modern and, being manufactured in 2017, their engines operate at a higher fuel efficiency than previous generation engines.”
In their effort to be as green as possible, Gozo Fast have partnered with Malta Public Transport to reduce the use of private cars on the road. Although the ferry docks in Valletta, there are other ferry services connecting Valletta to the Three Cities and to Sliema. Gozitans attending appointments at Mater Dei Hospital can easily catch the direct bus there, saving them hours of travel. The same goes for students who can now easily attend lectures at university without having to waste hours on the road. Similarly, a direct shuttle bus operates between Mġarr, Xlendi and Marsalforn, so anyone coming from Malta to Gozo to have dinner or spend a day at the beach has plenty of options.
In my case, being in Valletta in less than 45 minutes was the game-changer. I cannot count the number of times I had to miss theatre productions, exhibitions, and dinners with friends in Valletta because driving back to Ċirkewwa late at night would not have been worth the effort. This time, I could go out for a long-overdue dinner with my husband and be back home in time to read our daughters’ bedtime story without worrying about parking or being alert enough to drive.
We might not be able to travel freely abroad yet, but rediscovering our magnificent capital city without the added stress of travelling by car isn’t too shabby either.
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