If one compares standards and prices of traveling by ship anywhere in the world, one will likely find that booking a cabin on a new Pelni ship is the best value for luxurious sea travel anywhere in the world. A day at sea for two people on a German-built Pelni Passenger Ship of less than 5 years of age will cost less than 100 US dollars... or even just about 50 US dollars (for two) if exchange rates are favorable.
One may board Pelni Ships either for the purpose of bridging the distance from point A to point B in Indonesia, or one may board Pelni Ships for the pleasure of sea travel itself. Either way, it wins hands down over whatever the alternatives may be.
Traveling cabin class on Pelni Ships is as comfortable as staying at a luxurious hotel room. For those who have the time, traveling cabin class on Pelni Ships is far more comfortable than traveling by plane or bus. Most of the ships are very large, holding thousands of passengers. The sea in most Indonesian waters is seldom rough. Usually, sailing is so smooth, one hardly feels any difference to being on land.
For those who travel on Pelni Ships not for the purpose of getting to a particular destination but just for the pleasure of sea travel, we recommend one of the newer ships, such as the MV Kelud and MV Sinabung. Both sail between Medan on Sumatra and Jakarta. Other new ships are the MV Bukit Siguntang and the MV Kabuna which sail to a larger number of destinations.
Class A-1 provides a two-bed cabin with a modern bathroom and toilet (German fittings), a writing desk and television. All class A-1 cabins are on an upper deck and have windows, which usually cannot be opened, though.
Lunch and dinner on class 1 on Pelni Ships is excellent Indonesian cuisine. Breakfast is a mixture of Dutch and Indonesian morning fare. The Dutch component is toast, jam, and chocolate spread, while the Indonesian component is fried rice or rice porridge. Usually there can be boiled eggs.
For those who consider traveling without a specific destination, just for the fun of sea travel, Pelni Passenger Ships easily beat Cruise Liners and International Cargo Ships, simply for the entertainment of being with hundreds of friendly Indonesians. Cruise Liners may provide all kinds of entertainment... but it would rather suit rich pensioners. It's also too organized and the people you meet are... well, rich pensioners.
On Pelni Ships, there is usually a cinema (called "bioskop" in Indonesian) showing mostly English-language action films, and there is night entertainment with live music (usually from 20:00 to 22:30), but the real entertainment is making Indonesian friends.