It sounds like the possibility of intergalactic travel has been solved with fastcrafts, but actually they just move slightly quicker than their shipping boat counterparts.
Even with airports and commercial flight schedules expanding, these medium-sized passenger boats are a fast, safe and economical way to travel around the islands. With capacities of 300 or more, multiple travel classes, and daily routes between popular destinations, fast crafts have remained the favorite mode of travel for many commuters and vacationers alike.
In Iloilo City, one of the major seaports in the Philippine archipelago, the fastcraft terminal can be a busy and intimidating place if you haven't done your research because you can rarely purchase tickets online or ahead of time. Truthfully, it is quite easy.
Fall in line
Follow the military-like instructions and you'll be at the payment window in no time. Just don't actually fall, if you can help it.
Having your money and your ID ready will speed things up. The windows are often dressed with signs on destinations, prices, and the next time of departure.
Depending on the boat and the journey, many different classes of travel can be available; for example there are some open air seats, in-cabin with air conditioning, even first class!
Depending on the ship's operator and the port, you may have to pay a terminal fee at a separate window. Don't worry, if you forget to pay this fee, they will kindly point you to the correct window.
Pick a Seat
Also depending on the boat's operator and port procedures, you may get assigned a seat right at the time of purchase. If your ticket does not have a seat number then you will most likely need to see someone else that will do that for you. At the fast craft terminal in IloiloCity the smiling ladies at the desk near the gate will be happy to do this for you. Again, no worry if you forget, someone will point you in the right direction if you do, but you may not get a great seat by that point.
Your floating chariot awaits.
The boat that I took on this particular journey was actually quite clean and comfortable. On this hot and humid April day, the tourist class, air conditioned option was well worth the extra 50 pesos, which converts to about 1 USD more than the open air seats on the top deck... even though it was just a quick, one-hour journey from Iloilo City to Bacolod.
Above on the left, you can see the most popular tourist class seats are well spaced out and fairly comfortable. There will most likely be a moving playing as well, but you’re really just paying for the air conditioning.
On the right, the more generously spaced out First Class cabin allowed you to recline the seats waaaay back, almost to a horizontal position. I was forced to pay the extra 100 pesos for first class because all the other seats were sold out and I didn't want to wait an hour for the next boat.
In the long run, your comfort is up to you and your wallet, so choose as you wish. When starting out with US dollars the difference is almost nominal, but if you're traveling for months at a time like I do, I budget and ration wherever I can. I pay for luxuries when I need them and save money when I can sacrifice and still be safe and comfortable.