Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

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Lagerfeld
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Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by Lagerfeld »

What I don't understand: How you can go by boat when all the borders are still closed for foreigner ?
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landcruising
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by landcruising »

Lagerfeld wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2024 12:54 pm
What I don't understand: How you can go by boat when all the borders are still closed for foreigner ?
For as I know, not all borders are closed. Entering Azerbeijan over land might still be a problem, but what most vehicle owners do is transport their car over the border while the owners fly in. Driving out Azerbeijan is not a problem as far as I heard.
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Lagerfeld
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Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by Lagerfeld »

Thank you, landcruising, for your answer.
But I would never transport my camper solo over the border - this is too big risk.
So I'll wait till April, may be than the border is open again.
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UsInWorld
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by UsInWorld »

landcruising wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2024 1:09 pm
Lagerfeld wrote:
Thu Feb 15, 2024 12:54 pm
What I don't understand: How you can go by boat when all the borders are still closed for foreigner ?
For as I know, not all borders are closed. Entering Azerbeijan over land might still be a problem, but what most vehicle owners do is transport their car over the border while the owners fly in. Driving out Azerbeijan is not a problem as far as I heard.
Do you have any contacts for companies that does this shipping?
A approx price for a 4x4 would be great too

Thanks
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Jvs
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by Jvs »

Hi, is this WhatsApp number +994 55 205 40 33 still the correct one for trying to find out ferry info in Baku? Our hotel staff are trying and says he can't get through to this number and managed to find a different number somehow. Does anyone know of alternative contact numbers? Thanks
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adi
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by adi »

Jvs wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2024 1:56 pm
Hi, is this WhatsApp number +994 55 205 40 33 still the correct one for trying to find out ferry info in Baku? Our hotel staff are trying and says he can't get through to this number and managed to find a different number somehow. Does anyone know of alternative contact numbers? Thanks
German Wikivoyge appears to be with an up-to-date link.

(Also Aktai there)
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robinmetral
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by robinmetral »

We crossed about a week ago (didn't have time to write up a report yet).

The WhatsApp number also didn't reply to us. Call +994559999124 (shared earlier in this thread) at 9am for status on boats to Kurik, English spoken. (On one of the days we called, there was no reply all morning, maybe a holiday. They answered again the next day morning.)
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Jvs
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by Jvs »

That's great thank you, managed to get through to gem this afternoon after no luck this morning. Been told to get to the port this evening for a 'probably tomorrow' boat. Wish us luck!
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Jvs
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by Jvs »

2 Brits as foot passengers going from Baku to Aktau.

We arrived in Baku on 26th Feb, our hotel rang round a few numbers and managed to get the Alat port number +994 55 999 91 24 but no answer.

Following morning on the 27th we tried again, our hotel owner managed to get through to someone (not sure if was the above number as he seemed to speak to lots of people and write down lots of different numbers) but he was told no information now and to ring again at 9am tomorrow.

The same morning we also went to the Port Office in Baku to see if they had any more information. We were told the best way to check was to look at the ASC website (https://ships.asco.az/en will show ferries en route to ports and which ones are currently docked at the various ports. It updates regularly too with what appears to be real time info). He also confirmed the phone number (above ending in 124) we had been given was the correct one and to give them a call for updates. We did try briefly to call there and then but couldn't get through so gave up and went about our tourist day with our plan to try again the next morning.

However, we noticed on the ASC website that the ship 'Azerbaijan' that the Caspian sea article mentions as a passenger option was due to arrive that afternoon at 2pm and on rechecking it around 4pm it said it had actually arrived at 14:45. So we gave the number another try and someone picked up and told us there would probably be a passenger ferry tomorrow but we could arrive this evening. I pinned him down and asked if should we get there tomorrow or this evening, he ummed and said 'yeah get here this evening'. So that was the decision made, rather than waiting to call again in the morning we decided to get going and get there in the evening of the 27th.

Port Alat:
Our amazing hotel owner (Midcity hotel, highly recommend) helped us get a taxi which wasn't easy as no one wants to go out to Alat in the evening and with an empty return journey. Be warned Bolts will just cancel as soon as they find out your journey. Eventually one agreed to take us around 6:30pm as we agreed to cover the fare for the 'empty' return journey, it cost us 70 manat.

Once we got to the port, got our leftover manat changed at the 24/7 bank (they give really good rates - you CANNOT change manat in Kazakhstan so do this before you get on the boat) and bought our tickets (70$ each, we could pay in either manat or dollars and we chose manat as we already had the cash for that) we were told to head to a waiting room and the guy would come and find us and give us our physical tickets when the boat was ready to leave. It was about 8pm by this point and when we asked when he would come and get us he miraculously said 'tonight'. We then went through a room with a bag scanner/metal detector and lead to the waiting room.

We at first thought this was a different waiting room to the one we had read about because there were no beds but it turns out they are in a separate room (the security guard showed us after being puzzled as to why we were making make shift beds out of the chairs). It wasn't very warm until 2 Kazakh guys turned up and tried switching on a heater - I hadn't been brave enough to try earlier out of fear it was actually air conditioning and I wouldn't be able to turn it off again and that was the last thing we wanted! We couldn't see a shop or cafe, they were a fair distance from the waiting room but at night everything is shut. Take snacks and water with you.

Boarding at Alat:
At about 5:30am (now 28th Feb) a security guard came to tell us the boat (the Azerbaijan that we had sussed on the website would be the one we were going to be able to catch) was leaving and we walked over to the second check point and then to border control. Make sure you have a printed copy of your Azerbaijan visa with you as they need it at border control. If you are British be prepared to answer which premier league football team you support.

Our passports were taken by a crew member when we got on the boat and it was about 7:15 by the time we had made up ours beds and settled in.

The boat had set off some time around 11:30 (again as reported on the ASC website), so we were pretty lucky with all our timings after reading other accounts.

On board:
We were the only tourists on board and we were given a 2 berth cabin with an en suite that was pretty decent. No soap, toilet roll or towels though so good idea to bring those as well as snacks and water. Food was basic but not bad, we were pleasantly surprised. Meals are at 7:30, 11:30 and 19:30 sharp, you won't miss it though as someone bangs on the door at these times.
The truck drivers are nice enough, if you're female you get a few stares and people talking to you but in a friendly manner. As someone else put it, the hostess ladies keep a very tight ship! When you get chucked out for cleaning when the boat arrives in Kuryk, for the love of god give your room key back to them/leave it in the door or they will not be pleased.

Arrival at Kuryk:
The website said we were due in around 8am the following day (29th Feb). We actually arrived at 9:40 so not bad. Post chucking out of our room for cleaning, we waited by Reception and it's then we got our passports back with everyone else. The truckers then made their way downstairs so we followed them as we assumed we would be able to walk off the boat now. During this time however you have to wait for border control to finish checking the boat, so we waited at the front of the boat until we were told by the Kazakh border control guards we could leave with them.
About 12:30 we got on a minibus and were taken to the terminal building for passport control. This was really easy and we didn't actually get our bags checked/scanned. We then we're told to get back on the mini bus which took us to an administrative building where we could leave the port.

Getting to Aktau:
At the administrative building there was a really nice guy who spoke a little English who called a taxi for us and understood we needed to go to the bank to get cash out on the way. Up to this point we hadn't noticed any exchange places/ATMs as we'd been shuttled through border control. The taxi arrived about 13:30 and the lovely guy had negotiated 20000 tenge (40$/£35) for us which we were fine with as basically there was no other option.

All in all I would say the journey was painless and nowhere near as bad as some accounts we have read! We're not sure if we were very lucky or the process is becoming smoother now more tourists are doing this route.


Summary advice points:
Correct number as of Feb 2024 is number stated above.
Keep an eye on ASC website and if it looks like a known passenger ship that accepts tourists has arrived call the number again even if they told you to wait till the following day.
Change any manat you have in Azerbaijan as nowhere in Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan will be able to change it.
There didn't seem to be any spare room in the cabins and I suspect truckers get priority, so if you're told there's no ferry but one seems to leave on the website then it's likely you've been bumped.
Be brave and turn the big heating/air conditioner unit on!
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robinmetral
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by robinmetral »

Lagerfeld wrote:
Tue Mar 05, 2024 1:50 pm
I want to ask: Did Azerbaidshan open the land borders for tourists already?
Getting in: no, going out: fine
(Land+sea, a week ago)
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