Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by KyHi »

Went Baku-Aqtau-Baku June 2017

Mercuri-1 seems to be the only ship for overlanders

Azerbaidschan: mostly as described in the caravanistan article. Exception:
- bought our ticket in Alat; had to ship our cars from Alat, too.
- you sometimes can buy the ticket beforehand; however: DO NOT go through the customs before you are absolutely sure the ship will leave. Once you have the customs stamp you are stuck in Alat for good. In our case, 8 days.
- Transit parking in Alat is decent: toilets, showers, small Store & Restaurant, ATM
- When you arrive in Aktau: there is an ATM in the customs building; do not change money with the insurance Broker.

- Ticket Office in Aqtau is open Mo-Fr 9-18, but you can call this number: +8 777 490 46 63. No English spoken, just ask "boat azerbaidschan today?" and hope for a yes. Or learn russian/kazakh...
- Tickets are now sold at the harbor. Once you reach the first gate, enter the semi-small building to the right. Once inside, keep right. It is easier as it sounds. Ask vor Sergej - he is incredibly helpful and speaks english.
- harbor in Aktau is surrounded by a few restaurants and Shops

eastwards we waited for 8 days, westwards less than one.
Food is provided on the ferry, sometimes also chay. there is no store for beer, water, or cigarettes, so bring your own. you cannot access your car while the ship is on the way.
Last edited by KyHi on Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by chris_p »

Hey everyone.

It is DEFINITELY possible to buy tickets directly in Alat for the boat to Aktau.

We took the ship a couple of days ago. We cycled down to Alat port (70km south of Baku, well signposted, you have to spiral under the road). Everyone at the port is very friendly. You can buy tickets as soon as you get there. There is a ticket office, even an official board with prices on it. We were asked if we wanted beds in a 2-bed dorm for $80, or a 4-bed room for $70. You then can just wait in the parking lot along with all the truckers/other travellers until a boat is ready to go. Of course there is a lot of waiting around, but there is a shop, wifi, toilets and showers. It's really quite a fine place to wait, but you can also leave and they say they will phone you when the ship arrives. We did get sent through customs 16 hours before boarding the ship, but it's not so bad waiting there because the toilets on the other side of customs are much nicer, and the wifi still worked! The boat was very good too - food was included, no extra hidden fees, everyone was nice, all good.

Other travellers there had bought tickets in Baku, so it is still possible to buy them there if you prefer to wait in Baku, but if you don't mind waiting at the port the whole process is very easy down in Alat now.

There will be more about our experience on our website soon -
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by march08 »

Met Chris on our travels.

Alat - Aktau

For vehicles, you need to buy tickets in Alat only. You can buy tickets in advance and leave.

We were traveling on a motorcycle, 110 usd per bike and 70 per person in 4 berth cabin. Going by car, it is 100 per meter. They don't measure it, just try to put it down. Also one thing - bridge fee is not written anywhere, it is 5 in Alat and about 12 in Aktau.

There were some people who have been told there is no ferry today nor tomorrow and the ferry actually left at 6am next day so we decided to stay and wait... In total of 3 days. Problem is Noone knows much so if somebody will tell you 10am there is a ship, calm down. Might not be. It's OK to set up a tent. Guards are friendly.

There are Vulcan muds in the area (which we've been to 2 times...) otherwise, think ahead what are you going to do. Toilets are decent at morning, unbreathable at the evening, but there are second ones in front of second customs if you cross the railways (you will know when getting there). Also decent mini Market is there (some fresh veggies as well), atm, exchange, wifi, decent showers.

Another problem is the cluster fucking paperwork in Aktau with vehicles. You will need around 5 to 6 stamps on various papers, paying insurance (67 for a car, 45 for motorcycle per month, managed to lower it to 35 tho) etc. And guards/military will go through your stuff quite well. Lot of people working there just know their stuff so you might be directed wrongly for a next paperwork. Lorry drivers leaving the port helped us quite a lot but the bureaucracy is there. Also. Some offices have lunch break between 12pm to 2:30pm... Basically we left the ferry at around 10am and left the dock at 4pm! Get some patience. There is a caffe right after you leave the port, bit more expensive tho.

Anyway, the ferry was OK, food was decent but small portions (I was lucky for a second round of chicken with potatoes, try to ask) and bed was quite comfy. One thing. If you leave your stuff in a vehicle, get your sleeping bag as well as you will get only sheets, you cannot get to you car/motorcycle once loaded. And try to get a room with working AC. Decent showers and toilets.

Good luck!
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by La Trottineuse »


quick feedback on the experience of the Caspian crossing.
Stuck in Masshad (Iran) because of the inter Asia games (no transit visa for Turkmenistan until october), I decided to kick along the Iranian coast, westward, in search of a cargo from one of the ports, up to Baku, Azerbaijan if necessary.

Amir-Abad (Iran) : I arrived there on a friday, which is week-end in Iran. Was stopped just after the entrance gate, where an employee was nice enough to give a couple of phone calls, but only to tell that I had to try again in two days, and that the chances were quasi nul to get permission to go onboard. As my Iranian visa time was running, I left.

Anzali (Iran) : I spotted the "Khazar Sea Shipping Lines co" mentioned above, and was received by the director of the company in his bureau. (Sorry for the sweat left on the seat, weather was tropical ! :p). He was very welcoming and polite, but clear that nowadays it would be very vey difficult to board a foot passenger on his ships. There was a special formulaire and authorization to get. "So, there is a small possibility, what do I have to do to get the formulaire ?", did I ask. "No, it's not possible I'm afraid, you know, bureaucracy, etc..."
Perhaps someone with time could have ended up convincing him. Perhaps not a woman alone. Hard to say what are the combination of reasons at the end!

Alat Port (Azerbaijan) : I went directly to Alat port, without passing in Baku. I could buy a ticket at the Cassa, very easily (though I saw two travelers that seemed to be rejected a while later and went away, but I don't know why. And a cyclist that finally got a ticket told me they had said no to begin with).
Had to pay at the bank nearby and go back in with proof of payment (70$), and it was done in the minute. Possibility to wait with the trucks in the area, no real grass or smooth soil to pitch a tent, but plenty of space to choose where to sleep. Luckily I was told there would be a boat the day after, and there was. There is wifi (you have to ask for logins), a market, a tea/dinner area, ATM, bank, toilets, and showers.
Ticket included a shared cabin and all meals aboard. I was not asked for a fee to embark and debark the footbike.

Beware that manners change when you arrive in Kazakhstan, particularly police manners. The boat will likely be searched with teams and dogs, meanwhile you are put aside, and led to the control and visa office, you will get back to the boat and be able to grab your stuff back, despite all appearances :) Then there is another search with police and dogs through your stuff. And you should be free to go (one of the pedestrians was held by the police and questioned for an hour, he was Ouzbek and the only one to speak Russian).

Good crossing to the next Caspian adventurers !
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by adzy5983 »

I caught Merkuri 1 last week from Aktau to Alat and I thought I was add to the rich volume of information already available in this forum.
1. The ship won’t take passengers if there are chemicals on board.
2. The ferry ticket office in town is reliable. I visited once and left my name and number there. She called the day the ship arrived.
3. The manager of B&B Aktau organises tickets and can get the ticket for you before everyone gets to the port. I stayed there. I paid him a small commission and he did a sterling job. A nice guy too.
4. Mercuri 1 provides meals to passengers. Just make sure you bring snacks, soft drinks, etc as there is no way to get food outside of the main meals.
5. Some of the English language schools are desperate for native English speakers so if you’re waiting in Aktau, make good use of your time and volunteer. The students loved practicing with an Aussie and I got to learn more about Kazakhstan and the old Soviet Union from the students and teachers.
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by avelolasticot »

We took the Baku-Aktau ferry in November with a boat that is not listed in the article, it's the Bestekar Fikret Amirov. Seems like it was actually the only ferry to run this route at that time, I don't know about now :) We had a two people (overheated) cabin, meals provided, and a shared shower. All good!
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Alat -> Aktau Ferry report

Post by thepflaum »

My brother and I just crossed the Caspian with our car on he ferry from Alat to Aktau

It was a bit of a mission figuring out the timing. We waited in Baku for 4 days calling the office everyday to ask about the schedule (this is expected). One morning we called and were told we needed to be at the office right away to get a ticket since the ferry leaves tonight. We quickly packed our car up and rushed off to the Baku terminal to get a ticket (we were told to go there) - its the wrong place, don't go there if you have a car.
IF you have a car you need to go straight to the port in Alat and do everything there. I believe passengers can pick up tickets at the port in Baku.
We arrived by about 1:30pm and started to go through the process, checking papers, paying for tickets, border control etc. All of that finished within an hour or so. We were told to park the car up by the trucks and wait, they will probably start boarding at 4pm. 5pm rolls around and no movement, 8pm - still chillin, 10pm and someone comes out with a clipboard and some trucks start up. 2am and the trucks are loaded up and its our turn to get on (we are one of the two cars on this ferry).
You will need to go through border control now and have all your bags checked.
Once you are loaded on the ferry someone will take your passports and documents for registration then show you to your room - you will get your passports back later on during the crossing.
Our ferry probably left at around 4am but then anchored just offshore at 7am due to the weather being to harsh. We waited for 24 hours, the rooms became very hot despite the near 0 temperature outside. There was food and tea available, it really wasn't that bad waiting. Good idea to bring your own snacks and food.
The crossing was very calm and easy, once the boat started moving our rooms cooled down too.
We arrived in Aktau at around 3am and it was -12c outside, quite a long and cold border process. If you have a car you will probably be pushed to the front of the line so you can move your cars out of the way of the trucks.

Overall it was a great trip, the truckers are really friendly and enjoy conversation.

We paid $300 USD for our car and $80 each for our tickets and a 2 bed room ($70 for a 4 bed room).
This price also included our meals and bottomless tea.
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by vittorimbotti »

Currently in Aktau with my car waiting for a ferry to Baku.
I will update you all once in Azerbaijan.
For now, see attached a useful picture in front of the office where you should buy the ticket for the ferry! :)
29547750_10157285356618047_281067344_n.jpg (52.43 KiB) Viewed 2347 times
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Post by Pedro »

Hey folks.

My time to cross the caspian sea is closer and closer and i would like to share something with you guys
i already have my AZ visa but still struggling to know if the boat is in Baku or Alat. i already read everything online about the caspian ferry but it seems things changed in the last years and all the comments are pretty old, like 2011 or 2009. - I found that website which seems to indicate the schedule of the caspian ferry, so it seems like now things are a bit more organized over there. I have been following that page almost every week (for 2 months) and it seems like it is updated weekly or at least when there is something new going on.

I would like someone from there or someone who did it, RECENTLY, not 4 or 5 years ago, if this site is really realiable (Since it seems official) and if u get the boat in the Old Port of Baku to Aktau like before. In the website above its says BAKU (ALAT) but then on the actual timetable it is just ALAT. So ALAT would be a part of the Baku district so that they put BAKU(ALAT)?
I am very confused about this port. Many posts say you can get the boat in both ports, some says that Baku port is no longer available.

Thanks so much for your help
Greetings and good trips to everyone
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Post by bryanmkevan »

I took the ship Professor Gul about two weeks ago with bike from Alat to Aktau. There were two boats running, even during the Azeri holiday Nowruz. I had to wait in port for 2.5 days, but it wasn't that bad with a shop, toilets, and bank/atm. Paid cash at the terminal, no calling the main office. Just have patience. Four included meals, of pretty good quality. Pretty painless, you just need to let the guards know you want to camp out. They may be reluctant, but it's definitely possible.
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