Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

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Tilipo
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Joined: Thu May 10, 2018 1:29 pm
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby Tilipo » Thu May 10, 2018 1:55 pm

Update about the ferry. We are 2 cyclists traveling by bike with our dog. We took the ferry from Baku to Aktaou on April the 26th 2018!
It's easier than expected !
In Baku : call the Caspian shipping passager office every morning from 11h in order to ask if a ferry leaves on the same day (the last one was on Monday, we called on Thursday and there was one)
-> the number +994552665354 may still be accurate.
When the answer is 'yes', go to the office in Baku for buying tickets (coordinates: 40.374139,49.864823).
-> one ticket is 136 manats or 80 USD
Then you have to go to the port (port Alat for our ferry, the one before and the one after... It's maybe always like this now...). Woman in the office said we have to be there at 8pm.
There is actually no timetable, the boat leaves when it's full. So you have to be patient for going on board and going in your cabin
-> private cabin is included in the price, meals as well
In our case, we went on board at midnight, in our cabin at 1am, and the boat left at 7am (the 27th)
Then it took 30h to reach Aktaou
Another info : you can apparently by tickets directly in Alat, at the port.


Come and see our website !! https://tilipo-a-poils-a-velos.weebly.com
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marten568
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby marten568 » Thu May 10, 2018 6:00 pm

Took the Baku to Aktau ferry with Mercuri 1 on May 6. Called everyday from Baku, I tried all the numbers listed and would recommend calling Vika (+994 552665354) as she speaks good English. I tried calling the mainline the day of the ferry and they told me no ferry (probably language barrier issue). I then called Vika and she said get there by 3pm. Showed up to Alat and was told the boat might arrive by midnight, ended up boarding around 5am. $300 for the car ticket and $80 for passenger ticket, paid for online. As a reference point the prior ferry left 5 days before. There were plenty of overlanders camping out in the port parking lot when we showed up. Once we boarded the ship the crew gave all the good cabins to the truck drivers and put the tourists in the worst ones (apparently there are different pricing options of you buy ticket at the port? Online it's only one price $80). The rooms without windows can get unbearably hot. We were delayed by 24 hours to wait out a storm. Overall the comfort / cleanliness of the boat was completely fine, with the exception of the temperature level of the windowless rooms.

The border crossing / customs (traveling by car) on the Aktau side took 6.5 hours...
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bronthomas
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Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:37 pm

Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby bronthomas » Tue May 15, 2018 5:58 am

I just arrived in Aktau and have been told that the boats to Baku are now going from a port 70km south of here. I'm staying at Hostel Dostar Beach and the nice women on reception have been calling the port for me/ trying to sort it out. I will post an update when I figure out what's going on but is anyone else in Aktau or planning to cross to Baku soon?

Bron
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chachisxelmundo
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2018 11:11 am
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby chachisxelmundo » Thu May 17, 2018 11:29 am

We took the ferry on the 21th of April. Calling the same lady (Vika) at the same number (+994 552665354) everybody calls. We met many people who bought their tickets in the port of Alat! Some of them told us it was easy, others told us they had to insist to buy it there. We bought ours in the port of Baku. But anyway... The point is that the normal price is 60$ for a 4 people cabin and 80$ for a 2 people cabin. So don't let this Vika lady make a fool of you 😉. You can contact us on our face our insta if you want more explanations: chachisxelmundo. Have a safe trip!
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Ricks
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Joined: Sun May 20, 2018 2:42 am
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby Ricks » Sun May 20, 2018 3:07 am

Took the boat from Alat to Kuryk (new Aktau port about 70km from Aktau proper) on May 15.

Called Vika @ +994 552665354 - which I would recommend, rather than just going to the port in Baku. She finally told us to head to the port in Alat. You can sleep/camp there. There are toilets, a simple store, ATM that dispenses USD and Manat, ticket office. The Socar gas station south towards the actual town of Alat on the main highway has alcohol. My biggest tip: bring a cup and water. There may be tea on board, but no cups. Also water is scarce outside of mealtime.

We took Professor Gul. Started boarding at 6pm, left at... 5am? Smooth sailing. Ask or do whatever you can to get an outside room as the windows open. Meals are served but simple. Bring snacks.

We arrived at the new port (it's still very much under construction) west of Kuryk. You get off the boat, bussed to passport control, then wait... then you get to head back to the boat for things and vehicles. Plan on a long time. There is a money exchange onsite which includes a quasi ATM which sometimes works. There are basically no other services. No food, there might be water soon. For people without vehicles: you'll probably have to hitch a ride as there doesn't appear to be anything that can bring you to Kuryk or Aktau.

If you have a vehicle, hand over all papers at every point. Even a missing scribble of a signature can cause a serious headache.

Tips for people with vehicles and motorcycles: there is an initial baggage check. Hand over all papers. Then at the main building you have to buy insurance, pay the port fee, and register with customs. It's not obvious but you can do all of that in the main building.

Have fun!
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Gratsi and Jan
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby Gratsi and Jan » Mon May 21, 2018 6:47 am

We are two cyclists, and we took the ferry (Merkuri-1) on May 9th.

We bought the tickets (80$ per person) in Baku, and took a taxi to Alat port. We boarded the ferry at 3am and arrived on May 11th at 11pm. Everything else was similar to what Ricks described above.

Total duration from entering Alat port to leaving Aktau port: 55h. Our conclusion: It's not worth the hassle. Fly if you can.

Full blog entry: https://2intonew.com/on-the-caspian-sea ... -aktau-kz/
Last edited by Gratsi and Jan on Fri Jun 07, 2019 8:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Poodless88
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby Poodless88 » Fri May 25, 2018 8:37 am

I thought I would share my personal experience with arranging the Baku - Aktau Caspian sea crossing, as everyone has been so helpful on this board in my travels. I am sorry if things are redundant.

In my 5-6 days in and around Baku, ferries from Baku to Aktau neither left Baku nor arrived in Aktau. Ships left from Alat, a 1 hour drive south of Baku, and arrived at a port near Kuryk, which is a small town 70 km south of Aktau. The port is in the middle of nowhere. If you are traveling by foot, you will have to either hitchhike or haggle with taxi drivers. I was able to hitchhike to the closest town of Kuryk, and then again hitchhike to Aktau. Kuryk has ATM and several small marts. During my stay in Baku, there appeared to be a ship leaving port for Kazakstan every 2-3 days.

I bought my ticket directly from the Baku ferry office, for $80 (bring US dollars). The office is open from 11AM, and is located about 15 minute walk northeast of the “Ferry Terminal” on google maps. It is kind of hidden behind a wall next to a kids park. You can call before hand to check the daily schedule. I can confirm that the one reliable phone number that seems to reach an English speaking lady is +994 55 226 5354. I called starting at 11AM. 75% of the time I couldn’t get through or no one picked up. Be persistent! The lady may say to call back in 30 minutes, since the ship schedule is not always available for her until later in the day. You can also try the phone number at the port at Alat (+994 50 746 2962) but boarding time info may be less reliable.

At the moment, you definitely can purchase tickets directly at the port in Alat, which may be beneficial for cyclists and campers. You can also purchase a “ticket” online (acsc.az), but you ultimately still need to ask if there will be a departure and pickup an actual ticket with the e-receipt print-out from either the Alat port or the ticket office at Baku.

The port of Alat is pretty easy to find on Google Maps. I took an Uber. Expect to pay around 30 manat. Once at the port, there are several points at which you will be asked to present your passport and ticket. You will ultimately past through custom and board from “Border and Custom Check Point 1”. So make sure the folks there know of your existence. Then you can head over to “Check Point 2” while waiting for boarding. This is where all the cargo container accommodations are, which include: the Alat ticket office, ATM machine, money exchange office, small store (fashioned for truck drivers), shower, and disgusting bathrooms.

Boarding time is unpredictable and depends on who you ask, so play it safe and be prepared to wait many hours. For my boat (“Professor Gul”), the Baku ticket office lady said boarding was 2 AM, and she suggested I arrive 2-3 hours before hand. Other travelers were told to arrive as early as 5 PM the afternoon prior to boarding (by an official in Alat). We ended up boarding around 4:30 AM, and leaving dock at 9:30 AM. You can track the location of your ship via https://www.marinetraffic.com/.

The boarding process was fairly straightforward, and we boarded prior to completion of cargo loading. If you are bringing a bike, it appeared you do have to wait to the end of the custom cue. If you guys wants specifics about the sailing experience itself, I am happy to answer. But probably it would better to experience it for yourself!

If you are docking at the port near Kuryk, expect docking delays. We were anchored out of port for 24 hours… because there seemed to be only one active dock (the port is still under construction), and there was a backlog of ships waiting to dock. A hostelmate that took the same boatride a few days ago reported a 7 hour delay. Three daily meals will be provided by the ferry until docking, but definitely load up on snacks and water, especially if you are hitchhiking after arriving at port. Kazakh customs was slow, but straightforward (at least for a non-biker).

Hope this helps someone!
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leela
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby leela » Sun May 27, 2018 4:53 pm

Is there any further news on transport out of Kuryk, for foot passengers arriving from the ferry? My friend is going to need to get from Kuryk to Aktau, to Nukus, and at the moment it's hard to see how. Hitching would very much be a last resort.
Has anyone seen shared taxis in operation, for instance?

Also, for someone with no Russian or Kazakh, and no experience of hitching, how achievable is this whole Baku to Kuryk to Aktau trip?
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Poodless88
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby Poodless88 » Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:36 am

Two weeks ago I hitchhiked from Kuryk to Aktau. It's important to remember that the Kuryk port is not close to Kuryk. Your friend will need to find transport from the port to Kuryk first or go to Aktau directly from the port. I was being quoted something like $50 for taxi ride from port to Aktau, which was pretty outrageous. After about 20 minutes walking along the road from the port to Kuryk, I was able to find a ride, and then from there to Aktau again by hitching. It seemed pretty safe, but I'm a guy and n=2 right? There are definitely share taxis hanging out in Kuryk for Aktau. The locals are friendly. I don't know the price...

I didn't have much hitchhiking experience, and don't understand any Russian (besides the very basics) or Kazakh, and it went great. Just need to be patient I think.
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leela
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Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:21 am
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby leela » Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:51 am

Thanks. That's good to know. Was the $50 quote coming from taxi drivers hanging around at the port? Or was that if you arranged a transfer in advance?
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