Ao Nang Travel and Tour Co, owners of the Ao Nang Princess 5, aim to pursue insurers for the money, a spokesperson said yesterday. The company did not hold comprehensive insurance.
Travellers who lost all their possessions when the ferry went to the bottom have received only 3000 baht per person in ''pocketmoney''. Some were left in just their swimming clothes.
The burning and sinking killed Israeli Shani Maril, 12, who had gone to the toilet near the engine room.The fire broke out in the engine room about 3.30pm on Wednesday.
Before flying out last night with his family to Switzerland, where he lives and works as a hockey coach, Canadian Jason O'Leary told Phuketwan that he was concerned scores of passengers would never be compensated.
''It really is unfortunate this has happened. the kids were really, really upset,'' Mr O'Leary said. Mr O'Leary, 36, and his wife Leanne, 34, have two boys, Kellan, 8, and Nolan, 6.
''After everything happened, they transported us in small vans and the couple next to us in the van were talking about it. It was so surreal.
''One of my boys said 'What would have happened if we had wanted to go to the bathroom? It could have been us.' It's really scary.
''When everything first happened, I thought, a lot of time commotion causes panic. We saw smoke, and then as soon as we saw the smoke we started to move.
''I thought it might have been something like an electric fire, a plug of some sort. I though 'Oh they'll get a fire extinguisher, phtttt, no problem.'
''At first there was a small bang, then smoke, then a much larger bang. Then the black smoke started. Then people were screaming . . . the really frustrating part was there were no kids' life jackets.
''When my son put on a jacket it was down to his ankles. And that's what scared us. Then we put the straps through the bottom, they didn't stay clipped.
''We were in the second-last row from the back. People were just running to the front, running up the stairs. The staff were gone.
''We started moving up the front. On those boats, there's only two exits, the stem and the stern. Windows were open on either side, so we climbed out the side.
''We climbed along the edge and two Australian girls took my sons and boosted them up to the upper part, along with my wife. I saw one lady go overboard then there was more screaming.
''I remember watching the guy with a baby-blue fire extinguisher, then he threw it in the water.
''I remember asking 'Do we have to jump here?' But there wasn't a lot of English being spoken.
''Then a window burst out and you could see the flames. My boys were already crying and screaming. We jumped. My wife and I got separated.
''I remember yelling and swearing. Eventually everyone got off, except the young Israeli girl. The last one off was a large British man, who told me later he couldn't swim.
''I remember asking my wife 'Do we have our passports?' She had them in a zip purse. We were in the water for about 30 minutes.
''The first boat came and took maybe 30 or 40 people. My son and I were pretty close. We were wanting to get on but someone said 'We can't take any more.'
''We waited and went back to the group, and the second speedboat came maybe 10 minutes later. It was a little nerve-wracking.''
Mr O'Leary met with the ferry company at Phuket airport a day or so ago. He was told that the company had coverage up to one million dollars for death or injury.
The boat itself was fully insured. But the possessions of passengers were not insured.
''We had everything we came with in our baggage - cellphones, iPads for the kids, a GoPro camera, presents to take home for friends . . . had I known there was no insurance I could have heaved our bags over the side and hoped they would float.''
While the family's passports survived, they were badly water-damaged and will have to be replaced quickly.
The family were relying on a police statement and the water-damaged passports to get through Immigration at Phuket International Airport last night.
Leanne: ''We had to add everything up and the total came to about $10,000. We lost jewellery, watches, shoes . . . it was unbelievable how fast the flames spread and how fast the ferry went down.
''We didn't know whether credit cards would work. We tried to exchange one $20 bill but it was still wet. The woman at the currency exchange in Jungceylon wouldn't take it.''
Mr O'Leary said he tried all the available numbers for the Canadian Embassy but could not raise anyone on the first day. After that, envoys and especially Phuket police had been extremely helpful.
Now the family want to have the cash as soon as possible to replace their possessions. The tragedy and lack of reimbursement so far reflects poorly on Thailand and its approach to tourism.
''They must know if someone was a day-tripper or a one-way ferry transfer. We lost as much as the rest of the holiday cost us in Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
''Because of how it happened, they want to wait and see what's covered. My police report is all in Thai. I will have to pay to get that translated.
''Four passports have to be replaced. That's $800 to get the passports replaced. All of a sudden, it's a $15,000 replacement for what we've lost.
''I want to find out. When we leave . . . all they have is my email address. They don't have to get in touch with us ever again.
''I went to the airport to make sure we could fly tonight. I would really like them to replace our items.''
Leanne: ''Our kids couldn't sleep for the first night. They were scared. We want to try to forget and move on. It's different when you have kids, I think.''
Jason: ''We would be an average case. The family of the Israeli girl was sitting right beside us in the speedboat. For 30 minutes, the girl's mother was just screaming. 'My daughter, I can't bury my daughter.' And my kids were like . . .''
The embassies are likely to be left as go-betweens with the company and the ferry survivors. It's known that 17 people lost their passports.
The company has met the expenses of those passengers who have had to travel to Bangkok to regain passports, and of others who have been forced to wait in Thailand until after Songkran.
''And then we leave,'' Mr O'Leary said. ''Once we are all gone and nobody's here . . . ''
The 117 survivors came from at least 12 countries.
Leanne: ''Tickets for the two-hour trip were 750 baht for us and 650 baht each for the kids. It wasn't cheap. You would think for that price standards should be high.
''It's hard to imagine how they could not be insured.''
Jason: ''If the company has been running for 20 years, with no incidents, your insurance company should be happy with you. At those prices, the company has made a lot of money.''