Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

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sequel.world
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by sequel.world »

Hi Everyone - thank you for all your posts - you made my crossing sooooo much easier.

I travelled from Baku to Aktau - I won't bore you with the full drama of getting the ferry too much as it's much the same as others (it took me 8 days + crossing time)

BUT I thought I better let you know that I used the online ticket system! I couldn't resist Steve's intrepid traveller challenge.

I purchased the ticket from https://public.acsc.az/online/payment/index/en/
The websites in English and Azerbaijani.

The form is simple to complete with a fixed fee for cars depending on route. $300 to Aktau
It seems it only works from Baku currently:
- To travel to Turkmenbashi, you must select a departure port of Baku
- To travel to Aktau, you must select Alat
You must also recomplete the form for passenger tickets for each passengers if you wish to do it all online - I only purchased a car ticket and ended up in the halfway house of also having to pay $70 dollars for a passenger ticket when in Alat

The payment system seems fairly secure and went through swiftly.
I screenshotted the confirmation from the webpage.
You receive an email with a ticket too - for me it went into my Junk Mail so check there.

I've attached a copy of my ticket below. The code you need to provide them to be processed is the long set of digits under the QR Code - this is what they need - whether or not they know that is anyone's guess!
Caspian Sea Ferry Ticket.png
Caspian Sea Ferry Ticket.png (149.56 KiB) Viewed 7420 times
My experience of buying the online ticket was simple and swift - I can recommend the system and provide assurance it works.

A quick summary of my boarding process:
- Back and forwards between ticket office in old port, docking area with blue gate etc.
- Each day phone conversations to the numbers on the website to work out when a ferry was - took a couple of days and provided opportunity to sightsee in Baku
- Told to go to Alat to purchase ticket - I exchanged my e-ticket there - This was absolutely required - you had to do ticketing/customs in Alat
- Customs control was completed in Alat
- 10 hour wait in customs controlled area of Alat port
- Customs controlled convoy with 64 lorries to blue gated port in Baku at 1am in the morning - you weren't allowed to stop, some lorry drivers did for fuel regardless - customs unhappy!
- Arrival at Baku port, entered through blue gate and parked up with lorries
- Waited 4 days for the weather to clear as too windy
- Passport control at 2am one night
- Boarded Professor Gul at 4am
- Setoff to Aktau around 9am
- 25 hour journey
- Exited boat and customs, veterinary, insurance and tax took 5 hours or so - people did speak english and one poor soul directed me around so I was actually the first through the leaving process. The guy on the exit gate that day could be bribed with western goods - coke, snickers etc

While I waited dockside, fortunately I made friends with some girls in the operations team of the main building and they got me tickets for free lunches each day with the port workers - I was allowed to exit the port to head to one of two small cafes on the road leading to the blue gate - good food was served - was loath to as time went on in case the call to leave came while I was nowhere near the car!

In terms of the online ticket process, although its smooth, easy and works I would say its unnecessary. At the moment you still have to go to Alat regardless and you can easily pay in dollars there anyway.

On speaking to the Caspian Sea Company's manager at Alat, he suggested from December 2016 onwards, all lorries and cars would no longer have to be processed at Alat. Alat would be reserved for trains only and everything would move to Baku. He did say that this was the plan and subject to change/late implementation.

All-in-all it was an awesome experience. I was there for a while but loved meeting the drivers and sharing copious amounts of tea.

I'm currently travelling overland from the UK to Singapore and India. Pico the Picasso is my companion. If you're interested, my blog is http://www.sequel.world and I'll be doing a full story write up on there.
P1100261 2.JPG
P1100261 2.JPG (102.98 KiB) Viewed 7420 times
Blue gate to enter Baku port
P1100295 2.JPG
P1100295 2.JPG (156.72 KiB) Viewed 7420 times
My Port friends - look out for them - they all speak English and are very friendly and helpful
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Linda
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by Linda »

Maybe some things changed, maybe we did something wrong, who knows... It's a little different to what we read in the forum, maybe because the ferry was already in the port, waiting for better weather. But to sum it up it went all pretty smoothly. This is my experience about the Aktau-Baku ferry with a car:

1. Go to the ticket office, 5-29-1, where you are put on the passenger waiting list. Leave your telephone number.
2. Drive to the port, to register the car. The customs building to do that is located in front of the gate on the right hand side.
3. Go straight through the door in front. At counter no 13/14 the car gets registered. One guy at that counter speaks English. Leave your telephone number. Bill of lading is given, but no length of the car was asked.
4. Pay approx. 9000 Tenge (about 27.-$) at the Kazpost counter outside the Customs building. Bill of lading gets stamped.
5. Go back into the Customs building, but this time step through the door on your left. Collect stamps on the bill of lading at counters 7, 8, 9, and 10. Finally go through the door that leads to the counter you don't have a stamp from yet (opposite counters 8-10), and get your customs stamp on the bill of lading, and a customs declaration form.
6. Go back to the ticket office. Show your bill of lading and get your ticket. 80.- US$, payable cash in Tenge (no $), or by credit or debit card. No cabin number yet, the captain will tell it on the boat.
7. Wait for a call from the customs. Cafe Liman is nice and warm (in winter), has good wifi and sockets.
8. Once you get a call that the boat is ready, drive to the gate.
9. In the building to your left (door just next to the gate) you get a stamp. You walk through to the other side of the gate.
10. There you go to the back room of the small barrier post building. The customs declaration gets checked, and stamp no. 8 gets onto the bill of lading.
11. Go back out of the port area and drive your car to the gate.
12. Somebody has a quick look in your car.
13. In the front room of the barrier post building you have to give one piece of the bill of lading, but don't get a stamp.
14. Drive your car through the gate and park. Somebody comes by, gives another stamp and signs the bill of lading.
15. Leave the "territory" again, wait in the waiting area of the customs building with all the truck drivers.
16. Eventually a guy with a passenges list shows up, counts everybody, and directs you to the passport control. He takes one page of the bill of lading.
17. Get your passport stamped.
18. Go through to your car and drive onto the boat.
19. Somebody shows up at your car and takes your passport.
20. Hurry upstairs (depending on the boat i guess), to get a good cabin. There are some loud discussions between the crew and the truck drivers as well as between the drivers themselves, who gets which cabin. As a tourist, you might get help, or nobody cares about you and you just get the last available ones. Good luck! Once you have the key to your cabin, you can get your baggage out of your car, or do whatever you want.
21. Enjoy the trip. 3 Meals per day are served and there's tea all time.
22. You arrive in Baku after about 25 hours.
23. Put your baggage back into your car, and them wait upstairs in the dining room with everybody else.
24. Eventually the captain comes, inspects the car documents and sends everybody to customs.
25. At customs you get your stamped passport back.
26. Go next door (one to the left) to pay. You pay 17 manat / 10 $ port fee, and 80.-$/m for the car (it's a minibus). The cashier wants to write down 5m, but he agrees to measure. The car is only 4.20m long, and the cashier agrees to 4m (somehow he tries to say something like half meters don't count). 330.-$ paid in total.
27. The customs have a quick look in your car. Then one officer wants you to pay for customs.
28. Follow him in your car to the old port close to the city center. He fills out a form, that you're allowed to stay 30 days in Azerbaijan with your car. Pay 15.-$ for it.
29. Welcome to Azerbaijan!


Vessel: Bestekar Gara Garayev, trucks only.
Cabin: 3 beds for 2 people, window to the sea, attached bathroom (toilet and shower) to share with another 3-bed-cabin. Good matresses, clean sheets.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included. Not too bad quality, decent portions. Tea at all times.
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sequel.world
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by sequel.world »

sequel.world wrote: I'm currently travelling overland from the UK to Singapore and India. Pico the Picasso is my companion. If you're interested, my blog is http://www.sequel.world and I'll be doing a full story write up on there.
Here's my blog post on the adventure ;) http://www.sequel.world/single-post/201 ... aspian-Sea
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http://www.sequel.world

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sakara
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by sakara »

crossed from aktau to baku on 1.march 2017, report:
Went at 14:00 to the ferry ticket office(mikrorayon 5,building 29, its on maps.me). were told by a not too motivated lady that there are 2 boats today, but tickets were only sold at the port. took a taxi to the port. at the office (right side before the checkpoint) they told us, that the ticket guy would come in one hour. they gave us his phone number. as we didnt want to wait at the port we called the guy and met him on the parking of hotel aktau, where he sold us the tickets from his car (80$ each=24998tenge). official departure time 21:00, but he took our number and would call us once the ship was ready. he called around 23:00 and we took a cab to the port. had to wait for half an hour, then went through customs and could board the ship. the ship (professor gül) was old and in a rather bad shape. As there were only truck drivers (mostly turkish) the personnel (english speaking azeri cabin ladies) put a lone young azeri woman with us in the cabin - she finally had only her stuff with us and slept somewhere else. cabin was small, overheated, but with a window that could be opened - so pretty awesome. ship left around 4:am (I think - we slept). Next day all 3 meals were included (and surprisingly good: bread + jam, pasta+ chicken and lentil soup, potato+ meat and lentil soup). the ladies came to knock on all doors when food was ready.
the truckdrivers were extremly friendly, calm and polite. we got pushed in front of every queue, were proposed rides to all parts of turkey and spots on the way and so on. no drunken/noisy/aggressive people.
arrived in baku around 01:00AM, had to wait 90 minutes before leaving the ship. for customs once again the drivers pushed us in front. azeri borderguards very friendly, spoke perfect russian, didnt check the luggage. e-visa accepted.
all together a really good experience.
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Boubou
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by Boubou »

Hello!
We took the ferryboat from Alat to Aktau last week.
First of all, we directly went to Alat to buy our tickets and wait for a boat. At this time, we didn't have any information about the ferryboat schedules. There, we have been told by the policemen at the port's entrance that it was impossible to buy the tickets in Alat, and that all passengers were taking the ferry in Baku. A very helpful policeman called Vika for us, and we learnt that a ferry was leaving in the evening in Baku the same day.
In Baku, we looked after the old port, near Bulvar, and we finally reached the ticket office, "kassa" (exact location:
40.374152,49.864655) after 30min by foot. There, Vika herself told us that we had to go to Alat right now to take the ferry there. We bought the tickets (80$, you can pay in Euro as well), then went as fast as possible to Alat by hitchhiking.
In Alat, the policemen at the entrance first told us to go back to Baku, because no passengers were going from this port. We insisted, showed our tickets, and they finally let us entering the port.
At the port, we have been waiting for one night, then another one day on the boat. We had the pleasure to meet Tom, a cyclotourist taking the same boat than us.
After 24h, we were in Kazakhstan. The boat (Shadag) was old (we had our own cabin, but without shower), but the food was good!

To conclude this report, on March 17th, it was impossible to buy tickets in Alat.

Thank of you all !!
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GiacomoLuppi
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by GiacomoLuppi »

I will go on a ship from Aktau to Baku this night. The second office that is supposed to be in Aktau ( ticket office at 7-21-1. Telephone: 872 92 51 77 59. It’s close to the World War II) seems to have closed, I looked for that all around the building but no trace. I called the number but automatic answer said this number doesn't exist. The woman in the first office now is called Julia, very nice but no speaking english
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GiacomoLuppi
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by GiacomoLuppi »

Finally I waited 17 hours at the port because due to bad weather the ship couldn't approach the coast. The trip lasted not even 20 hours but then we waited almost 30 hours in the gulf gor the same reason. 17 hours in Aktau + 48 hours on the ship...but good food on board for free, clean cabin, free tea. People just don't have to be in hurry :)
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Mayuelliot
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by Mayuelliot »

Maybe this will add to the confusion but hopefully will make it clearer for some, as we still found it confusing, as all the information from the past is conflicting with the current situation. We took the boat from Baku to Aktau with our bicycles, therefore cannot comment on car travel.

We boarded the boat in Baku on 5th April 2017, we bought our tickets a few hours before we boarded the boat. First of all I wouldn't waste your time going to the ticket office to get information about departure, the level English spoken on the phone is enough to understand when the boat is leaving. Call each morning at 10am to get the status on the boat. The lady will either be able to tell you what the status is or tell you to call at mid day or tell you to ring the following day. These are the 2 numbers we used +994504200905 / +994552665354 . After making this our morning routine at mid day on the 3rd day we got news that the boat is leaving early that evening. We quickly packed our bags, and cycled to the ticket office at 2pm - GPS ( 40°22′26.56″N 49°51′48.22″E ) Paid $80 each, bicycle was free, and food / cabin included.

The lady at the ticket office gave us directions to the departure port around 7km from the tickets office, we arrived at 3pm - GPS ( 40°21′46.98″N 49°56′04.74″E ) we were then told we needed to wait 2 hours until we can board the boat, the police did not allow us to wait at the entrance to the port ( we have found that most police are friendly but some are on a strange power trip and make up rules, so this might not be the case in your situation, I would try and wait at the entrance next time) there is a supermarket close to the port - GPS ( 40°22′05.06″N 49°56′19.59″E ) where we spent our remaining manat and sat on a grass bank passing the time. However we decided to return 15minutes before we were 'allowed' and when we got there, it seemed like we were late and it was a bit of a rush to get on the boat.

First we had to be checked by the police, they almost looked in one of my panniers, asked for money, I played dumb and showed my ticket, then we laughed for a bit. The main police man took more interest in my wife and hugged her for a bit and we were free to go. Next was the immigration, they were professional and friendly. We had our registration for Azerbaijan as we had been here over ten days. But they did not check this, however I would not take the risk as it only costs 5 manat.

After immigration, we could board the ferry, secure our bikes and take our bags to our cabin around 6pm. Dinner at 8pm, a tasty stew and then sound asleep :-) After couple hours we left Baku, the ferry stopped completely more than 30hours because of the weather in Aktau side and we arrived in Aktau on 8th April in the morning.

As caravanistan suggests, don't ask anyone else's advice. We asked in the old port - GPS (40°22′23.37″N 49°51′25.11″E ) about a ferry to Aktau, and 2 guys that spoke english told me that NO boats leave from Baku to Aktau and that I have to go to Alat. Also the online schedule - (link) is not accurate as the boat we ended up on (Mecury 2) was not even near Baku as per the schedule. So I think the only accurate information is coming from the ticket office phone number. You just need to call them each morning. Good luck ;-)
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Mati14
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by Mati14 »

I have just crossed Caspian Sea with bicycle, and here are my advices:

First of all forget about thouse ladies from kassa: Amina or Vika. It seems, they are more confusing than helpful. The best way to avoid wasting your time on waiting is to check carefully the ship traffic. Just filter it, to see the passengers vessels only, pick the ferry and follow it. If you see vessel leaving Aktau port be prepare that it will come to Azerbejdjan seashore next day. Its movement will freeze on the way, cause not all the caspian sea seems to be covered by satelite monitoring the traffic, so always check the time of the latest position. Than, when you see the ferry has moored, it means usually that in 3-6 hours it will be departing. This is the moment to buy ticket and go to the port (Alat or Baku). I have done exactely like this. Of course Amina was telling me that ferry is leaving RIGHT NOW but you need to use your own brain :)

Marine traffic page: http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/

Thanks to this I have came to port and go on board just 3 hours before departure. No frustrations at all. No waisting the time.

The second thing is wind. I have noticed that capitains of those ferries are VERY VERY CAREFUL about wind conditions. It must be really perfect weather to go. So I checked forecasts. I saw it will come little stronger wind (more than 30 km/h) in the evening and it did. The vessel has stoped 3 hours from departure , anchored and waited 20 hours in the bay for better conditions. It seems to be the main reason of all the delays reported by people. Once on board just relax and enjoy the trip. You can do nothing with the wind:)

Third thing: It seems you have to buy ticket in Baku now. There is kassa in Alat (when I was there it was open) but at the gates to the port the policeman insists to show the ticket so, without it he will not let you in. I presume, the fake one would do the work too, so you could cross the gate and go to kassa :) Anyway it is better to buy your ticket in Baku.

Good luck!
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fitfortyandretired
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by fitfortyandretired »

I have been waiting for the Baku to Aktau ferry for the last three days now. I am following elliotmayu's method on the previous post by calling +994504200905 every morning. Every time I call, they say "nyet" I am guessing that this means no. Is anyone else waiting for the ferry? Is the delay because of windy weather?
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