Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

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saydasvidanya
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby saydasvidanya » Mon Aug 29, 2016 6:21 am

Took the Ferry from Aktau to Alat 2 days ago. We got the "Azerbeijan" which was old and scruffy, but cabin and meals included in the 70$ fare.
Most importantly, ferries were going daily to Alat, sometimes even twice per day as port officials told us, and we turned down the first two as we had some small repairs to do.
I realise ferry frequency probably depends on a host of factors, and these daily sailings might be of the 'enjoy it while it lasts' variety, but it is very different from what most guidebooks and blogs will tell you.
Also, LP Azerbeidzjan even says it is cheaper to fly, even with a bicycle, but at 70$ with no extra charge for the bike on the ferry, I wonder if this is the case.
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steven
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby steven » Mon Aug 29, 2016 8:07 am

saydasvidanya wrote:Also, LP Azerbeidzjan even says it is cheaper to fly, even with a bicycle, but at 70$ with no extra charge for the bike on the ferry, I wonder if this is the case.


70$ is a very good deal and better than the 80$ most others have paid this year. No way you can fly for this price, but the ferry has improved markedly this year. Less confusion, better prices, no corruption. If a few more countries go visa-free soon I can just retire Caravanistan and go do something else :-)
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Crazydre
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby Crazydre » Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:22 am

USD 70? From which ticket office? And what was the actual amount (in tenge) you paid?
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neshuis
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby neshuis » Wed Aug 31, 2016 8:36 am

We took the Baky - Aktau ferry this spring (end of May) with our car. We enjoyed the crossing and it took us less time than we expected: 5 days from crossing the Iran/Azerbaijan border until entering Kazachstan. But we were lucky showing up in Alat on the day a ferry arrived. The information from the Caravanistan site and forum was a huge help, thank you for that! In return a report of our experiences:

Boats to Aktau that take people with their car only depart from Alat. You can only buy the ticket in Alat as well. We called Victoria when entering Azerbaijan (day 1), she told us to go to Alat. We arrived in Alat that same evening. The security guard at the port told us to buy the ticket in Baku. This is wrong! We drove to Baku, camped there close to the port, only to find out the next morning (day 2) when the ticket office opened (10 AM) that we had to buy the ticket in Alat.
So: insist on buying in Alat and call Victoria if in Alat you are told otherwise.

We checked the ferry site (http://www.acsc.az/en/pages/225) often. The ETA's changed frequently, but at least you have an idea where the boats are. We arrived back in Alat in the end of the morning (day 2). The Mercury1 had arrived early that same morning, but we had to wait until late in the evening for the (seventeen) trucks that had to come of the boat.

Eventually we boarded at 2 AM that night (day 2/3). We were given a cabin that we had to share with the two other tourists, and slept a couple of hours. When waking up (day 3) we were still in the Alat port: too much wind. Apparently the ferries won't cross the Caspian with 4 Bft or more. Eventually we departed that morning but went for anchor close to Baku to wait for the wind to lay down. After a day of waiting we left in the morning (day 4) to cross and after a quiet trip we arrived in Aktau around 5 AM in the next morning (day 5). Entering Kazachstan was very confusing with a lot of stamps and missing forms which cost us 4 or 5 hours.

Alat info:
The ticket can be bought at the parking of the Alat port. It was $500 for us and our van (4.5 meter x $80 + 2 persons x $70), but we were lucky as they thought our van was an autobus in stead of a car ($80 vs $100 per meter). When they changed their minds we already had the ticket so they did not bother. We paid in AZN, dollars will also be accepted (perhaps euro's as well?). The ticket office in Baku told us it would be $110 per person, but maybe this varies between the different ferries. Later we also had to pay another $2,36 per meter (x4,5 = $10,62) for boarding.

There is a small shop on the parking, a money change office (AZN, USD for sure, maybe also EUR) and an ATM (I did not check if it works). If you're there and have the ticket you're not allowed to leave the parking (at least with your car, and there is nothing in the nearby area), so prepare for camping. The officers generally were helpful and friendly.

PS: There was nothing to buy on the boat, there were 3 meals (with tea) every day at set times and that's it. So bring enough water and some food.
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Crazydre
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby Crazydre » Sun Sep 04, 2016 12:33 pm

Exchange office and ATM at the Alat parking? Wow, did not notice that.

Btw, wasn't there one of those big water jars on the ship? On the Nakhchivan there was, so I could always get a glass
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kkarina320
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby kkarina320 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:42 pm

hello

we are in Iran waiting for our visas to Turkmenistan. Although there is a risk we might not get it so we are thinking about plan b, we thought about crossing caspian sea from Iran to Kazakhstan, there are cargo ships but we dont know if they can help us.

soooo anyone here ever heard about hitchiking cargo ship from Iran to Kazakhstan????????


Thank youuuu
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steven
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby steven » Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:48 am

Never heard of it but do let us know if you managed to do it.
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kkarina320
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby kkarina320 » Thu Sep 08, 2016 8:26 am

So far we know that there is cargo company "Khazar Sea Shipping Lines co" which had a regular Voyages of export cargo two times per week from Iranian northern ports (ANZALI,ASTARA,AMIRABAD ports) to AKTAU im Kazakhstan
http://khazarshipping.ir/en/index.php
and here is the Voyages plan in English : http://goo.gl/3sZvmb

Right now we are trying to contact them and most probably we will also travel to the ports to ask. I will update some info later. :D
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kkarina320
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby kkarina320 » Thu Sep 08, 2016 8:27 am

So far we know that there is cargo company "Khazar Sea Shipping Lines co" which had a regular Voyages of export cargo two times per week from Iranian northern ports (ANZALI,ASTARA,AMIRABAD ports) to AKTAU im Kazakhstan
http://khazarshipping.ir/en/index.php
and here is the Voyages plan in English : http://goo.gl/3sZvmb

Right now we are trying to contact them and most probably we will also travel to the ports to ask. I will update some info later. :D
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mondragon
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby mondragon » Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:22 am

Hi all!

I thought I'd start writing a brief update while waiting with some fellow travelers at Liman Café (the one and only restaurant at the Aktau port, with wifi, electric outlets/power sockets AND decent food at an affordable price). My plan is to go from Aktau to Baku.

Monday October 3rd:

- went to 7-21-1 in Aktau looking for tickets this morning, this is a convenience store/magazin. The ticket office nearby the World War II monument is at 7-12-1 (same figures but different order...)

- however! this place does not sell ferry tickets. The staff there actually told me to go to 5-29-1 which is the other ticket office recommended on Caravanistan (it was my plan anyway, but microraion 7 was closer to where I stayed so I thought I'd have a look there first)

- at 5-29-1 (picture) I met 2 employees including Katia who speaks some English. I bought a ticket for a boat that was leaving the same day. I was told to be at the port at 4 PM. I paid 26,880 T (80$). Room: 2 or 4 berth-cabin. Boat: Nakhichevan. When I asked whether the boat was going to Baku or Alat I was told it would go to Alat and that the boats would eventually all go there in some months... years?

- went to the port after lunch, introduced myself to the "patron" in the passenger office (first building to the right when you enter the port). He wasn’t cold nor mean but to summarize our exchanges "Come back in 2 hours", 2 hours later: "Come back in 2 hours." At some point he was replaced by a lady: "Come back in 2 hours"…

Tuesday October 4th:

Long story short: the immigration, boarding, loading process started around 1AM. By 2AM I was sharing a 2-bed cabin with a young kazakh backpacker. We could finally get some sleep. A few meters below us the whole loading process was just starting... The boat engines would eventually start around 7AM, waking me up just in time to see a beautiful sunrise from the upper deck.

As far as the journey is concerned feel free to make what you want of your time. Walking around. Taking pictures. Reading. Sleeping. You’ll have enough time for all of that and more!

Food was good. The chef was really thrilled to see a tourist/foreigner and was proudly throwing a few French words here and there while serving me generous portions of food!

Wednesday October 5th:

After a shower and a quick breakfast, I made my way to the upper deck. Terre! Wow, Alat seems bigger and more developed than expected... Quick check on Google Maps: of course this is not Alat but Baku. What a pleasant surprise!

11AM, after a 28-hour journey (only accounting for the moving time) the boat is finally moored (parked if you will) in the port of Baku. I took another 2 hours before we could get out of the boat. Then a bus took all the passengers to some Passport control spot where we got our passports back et voilà, we were free!

Total journey time (from when I left my couchsurfing host in Aktau to the moment I got my passport back in Baku): 2 days

Like written on the Caspian sea ferry page of Caravanistan.com: Make sure you budget enough extra days and are flexible with your schedule, so taking the ferry can become a fun and rewarding experience instead of a nerve-wrecking one.

I met 2 travelers during my afternoon wait at the port in Aktau who weren't so lucky. They got here before me (actually they had already showed up on Friday but they were missing some document to cross with their car). They were scheduled on the boat after mine (Akademik Hasan Aliyev), which, although it arrived in Aktau a couple of hours before, had to wait for his turn. And then again on the Baku side. It cost them an extra half day.

PS: the strangest thing about this experience is the fact that no one seems to know what's going on... at any time. The staff from the Ferry Ticket Office told me the boat would go to Alat when it actually arrived in Baku (there might have been a problem in Alat though). They told me I would have to pay for the food on board but in fact all meals are included. Actually, I don't think you can buy anything on board. The "patron" at the Aktau port had no clue when my boat was going to show up. He was simply using the marinetraffic app on his phone, like us...
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