Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by steenaa54 »

As Eric writes at the buttom, I am also wondering, but the ferry to Baku must be leaving from the cargo port...?

MirasBazarov wrote:Please, could You send to me copy of that aplication form?
Send to me request in prvt massage i will try to manage and at least will ask from knowledgeable people.
ericv wrote:
MirasBazarov wrote:Hello, Eric.
"Turkembashi Deniz Yuk Porty" - means "cargo port" in Turkmen language
"Turkmenbashi Yolagcy Porty" - means "Passenger Port" in Turkmen language.

Its sure information, cuz Im turkmen native speaker and live in Turkmenistan.
Feel free to ask anything more.

With best regards, Miras

Miras, thanks so much! That is helpful.

Now I am wondering though... even though I am a passenger, would I arrive in the cargo port on the ferry from Baku? Does anyone know?
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by electroboris »

Just crossed alone from Kuryk to Alat on the Professor Gul with a passenger car (Mini). Had to wait 2,5 days in Aktau as it was impossible to get clear information on boat arrival, turn around time and departure. Although there is a schedule of ferries sailing on a wall in the port of Kuryk, nobody knows any timing of the boats.

Ship arrived at 18.30 at Kuryk, it took until 03:00 in the morning to unload and re-load the ship. Procedures at Kuryk port were bureaucratic, lengthy, but in the end got done without complications. I had to pay $80 for my passage, plus $25 for my car (apparently port tax or similar). There is WiFi in the passenger building inside the port, but not outside. The hotel at Kuryk port charges 3.500 Tenge per night, payable with Visa card. They have WiFi, but only give you the password if you insist for some time it seems. There's a canteen across the hotel that accepts only Tenge cash. You're not allowed to move around the port as long as you stay there. So if you have a longer wait, consider if this "prison" is for you.

We had to wait an entire day in front of Kuryk port at sea due to "bad weather", 0,5m waves and a bit of wind. Crossing to Alat took 24h. We had to wait another 2h in front of the port as the port was "busy". Procedure to leave the ferry wasn't quite clear. With the car I passed customs check easily, but then lost 2,5h at another customs office where they extort $16 in "road tax", that you have to pay at a post office cabin in another corner of the port. At night no lights, everything seems closed, so it's very confusing to understand where to go and what to pay. Nobody speaks English. Before getting out I also had to pay $40 for some unknown reason and $300 to get the car out of the port. All in all I spent 4,5h to get out of Alat port.

The Professor Gul is a mess, food is pretty bad, 3 meals a day. Showers and toilets are dirty, bring your own towels, toilet paper etc. It's a good idea to bring snacks, water/drinks, and if you want to avoid their blankets, bring your sleeping bag. Cabins are for 4 passengers, I got one for myself.

All in all I wasted 4,5 days for the crossing, never again! I could have driven around the Caspian sea easily in that time. And the hassle at the ports kills the fun.
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by flo_sg »

I plan on crossing from Baku/Alat to Turkmenbashi this Saturday. As getting info on schedules seems to be difficult, does anyone have experience of what chances are that boats sell out?
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by steven »

flo_sg wrote:I plan on crossing from Baku/Alat to Turkmenbashi this Saturday. As getting info on schedules seems to be difficult, does anyone have experience of what chances are that boats sell out?
For cargo ferries, that only happens when the Mongol Rally arrives in Azerbaijan.

The Berkarar and Bagtiyar have been known to book out in advance.
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by MrEkizzle »

Hello fellow travellers,
despite depicted as very hard and pain-in-the-ass-like in this blog, our crossing of the caspian was very smooth and the staff extremely nice on the Mercuri 1 from Kuryk to Alat. But I post this to warn you from the port security guard in Kuryk (Aqtau). He is an A***** and may try to convince you to change your Dollars into Tenge. He may try to tell you, that there is no way of paying in Dollars inside the port, which is not true! Even if it doesn't seem like this out in the desert, the port is equipped with atm and food. And you can pay in US Dollars, of course! We even payed in mixed currencies. So don't let yourself get trickt by the guy in front of thr harbour!
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by BakuBound »

How did you get to Kuryk and how long did you have wait? Those are the usual problems, not the crossing itself.
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by Bethany »

steven wrote:
flo_sg wrote:I plan on crossing from Baku/Alat to Turkmenbashi this Saturday. As getting info on schedules seems to be difficult, does anyone have experience of what chances are that boats sell out?
For cargo ferries, that only happens when the Mongol Rally arrives in Azerbaijan.

The Berkarar and Bagtiyar have been known to book out in advance.
It sounds like the Mongol Rally have arrived in force at Alat now. We are at Turkmenbasy now waiting to get to Baku and 2 Azeri cargo ships arrived yesterday (9th) full of Mongol ralliers. The 1st lot had waited 4 days to get on a cargo ship.
Also appears the new Turkmen ferries are sat in port here until at least 13th due to the Caspian Sea economic forum
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by Annabanana »

To hear when a boat will leave from Alat to go to Aktau, send a WhatsApp to Ilgar. +7 707 292 9955
Happy to help. Thank you, Ilgar!
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by applehostelbishkek »

hi guys

anyone leaving from Aktau to Baku on sept 21st, 22nd, 23rd or sometime around? :D I'm traveling solo, would love to meet someone to travel together. looks like it takes 2 days so it is a bit scary :D also $80 ticket price for the much is the food on board? is it better to bring your own?
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by chouse »

Here is our recent experience (mid-August 2019) on the crossing from Aktau/Kuryk to Baku/Alat:

We arrived to Beyneu, Kazakhstan around 6am via overnight train from Nokus, Uzbekistan. There wasn’t a train to Aktau for 7 hours (~1pm), so we decided to take a shared taxi to Aktau for 5000 Tenge per person. The other two locals in our taxi paid the same. It only took 4.5 hours on good road and with some excellent scenery include passing through a basin at -120m below sea level! Cool!

We had been in contact with an english speaking liaison for the Kuryk Port, Ilgar (via WhatsApp +7 707 292 99 55), who is very responsive to questions. We had also been following the Caspian Sea Marine Traffic website. At this time, the Professor Gul and Mercury-1 where the only ferries carrying passengers plying this route. That is subject to change of course. They are easy to track on the Caspian Sea Marine Traffic map as you can type in either the port or vessel name to get info. Be warned: It seems you can only look at the free version of this website ~25 times or so before they cut off your access and make you pay for a subscription!

Once we were dropped off in Aktau, we checked into the Medet Hotel, because we had heard from Ilgar that the next boat wouldn’t leave until the following evening at the earliest. Highly recommend the Medet - $10 USD gets you a double room with private bath (no AC) in a great location near bus routes, a shopping mall with ATMs, a supermarket, and great western-style burger restaurant called "Бархан Burger Shop”. We ate here twice, very tasty!

Critical information that we haven’t read anywhere - There are shared taxis to Kuryk and Kuryk port. They leave from this location: (43.6645184, 51.1681510). You can get here by taking local Bus No. 3 (download and use 2GIS app for Aktau) for 50 Tenge. The taxi drivers congregate in what looks like a parking lot for an apartment block. We showed up at 1PM and there were already two passengers waiting so we left right away. Price is 2000 Tenge per person to Kuryk Port. A local paid 1000 Tenge to Kuryk Village, but the port is ~20km further, so the price seemed fair. We were also quoted in town 8000 Tenge for a private taxi.

We got to port mid-afternoon and it took us half an hour to explain to the guard that we wanted to check into the hotel. The guard kept telling us to “wait, ferry coming tomorrow.” Hotel was good value - 3500 Tenge per person for a private room with AC, TV, private bath, and good beds. WiFi only works in the eastern wing, so check for service before agreeing to a room. Only Visa accepted. There is also a hostel, but we didn’t know about it until we had checked into the hotel. The restaurant/canteen is directly across from the hotel and is open for 2 hours at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Food was marginal. 1000-1500 Tenge/person. Cash accepted here. No service on our KCell sim at port.

It’s important to walk down to the Customer Information building to find out what time tickets will go on sale and for everything else you need (ATMs, good free WiFi, and another restaurant with cold drinks, candy bars, and perhaps better cooked food). Buying the tickets is a very slow process with a lot of back and forth. Some guys with motorbikes were camping outside the port compound and they were not allowed in to buy tickets until 11PM. They didn’t finish the ticketing process until 3AM. However, since we were inside the port compound, we arrived right when tickets went on sale at 9:30PM and it took us 45 minutes to get our tickets (we did not have motorbikes, though). The english speaking guy selling the tickets is super nice and helpful, so that made the process a little easier.

To pay for the tickets you go the the Kassa counter and there is a 300-400 Tenge commission that no one mentions! We paid for one ticket in Tenge at the bank exchange rate (no rip off) and one ticket with $100 USD bill. But then they tried to give us change in Tenge. We insisted on getting $20 USD bill back and they only had one worn $20 USD bill. So be warned they may not have change in USD!

Cabins were unexpectedly nice. Our large 2-person cabin had a port-hole window, 2 bunk beds, a chair, a table, and private bathroom with toilet/sink/shower (hot water and good pressure). Some other cabins had larger windows and a sink, but no attached bathroom. A few cabins had no windows and no bathrooms. Try to get on the boat early to get yourself a good one. The food is not great, but it is edible.

It took about 8 hours from when the boat arrived in Kuryk until we were sailing out. We were onboard about 4-5 hours before casting off. On the Alat side things were a lot quicker, maybe 2 hours once we docked until we were free of immigration.

A free port authority bus will take you from the immigration building to the last checkpoint. We were told there were no (working?) ATMs here or perhaps it’s a ‘bad’ ATM. Luckily, we bought some manat from another traveler. There were some taxis waiting once past the final check charging 40 manat for up to 4 people. We walked ~30 minutes to the bus stop on the highway. While waiting at the bus stop, a very nice person pulled over and gave us a ride to Baku for free!
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