Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby tibilonski » Mon Sep 17, 2018 4:32 am

Ok, so the ferry should leave tonight (didn't mention any specific time) and we should buy the tickets in Alat port. Are you in Baku already?
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby Yanko » Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:41 am

We are in Baku, 3 persons. I'll just ring to Alat. We'd like to leave tomorrow.
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby nomadichappiness » Mon Sep 17, 2018 8:05 pm

Hi yanko and others. We didn't wait in Baku, we received our Uzbek LOI at 8h30, we were camping at the mud volcanoes near Alat. We drove to Baku as fast as possible to Uzbek embassy to apply for the Visa, then to the centre to pay then to embassy again to take the Visa. Then we called the number in Alat port and were told about the ferry coming in the night.

So call everyday and be prepared to leave asap to Alat any time.

We were on Merkury 1 and were aloted a comfy double bed cabin for my wife me and our kid. There are 4 person's cabin and 2 person's cabins on the boat. 3 people can sleep on the 2 person cabin as there's a comfy sofa.
Food quality is low so bring snacks or sandwiches or whatever if you're picky. We had 3 meals all with (you don't want to know where it comes from) chicken and noodles or bulgur.
Interesting ambiance on the boat with truck drivers from Turkey or Azerbaidjan or Russian.

The ferry arrives in brand new kyryk port, handsome but disorganised, and the whole entry paperwork might last 2 hours for walking people and up to 5 hours if not lucky like us for car overlanders. I've read that insurance is minimum 30 days for 13000 tenge but I asked and was granted minimum 15 days for 9250 Tenge. Bring euro or dollar or ruble in cash to change at the port. Azeri Manat are not changed. There is no ATM.

The kyryk port is 20km away from actual kyryk village. If hitchhiking try to arrange a ride with a truck drivers before hand in the ferry. Turkish might be the friendliest or azeri.

The Merkury 1 ferry arrived on 18pm on Sunday 16th and left a few hours later. It might arrive in Alat on Tuesday. It's just a guess.

And last thing, children pay half price ticket, 35 dollars while adults 70 dollars. I don't know the age limit, our kid is 2,5 years old.
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby goneforawander » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:42 am

Aktau -> Baku ferry:

If you're headed to the Baku ferry, be warned it now leaves from the middle of nowhere 95km to the south. 8000T taxi or catch a bus/shared taxi to Kuryk (from somewhere) and try for a ride from there for the final 24km. There is nothing out there, no shops. I got stuck there for two days and managed to let them give me some food from the staff canteen. It took a total of 4 days to get from there to Baku (also 65km south of Baku, $25 taxi ride) - unless you're really adamant on overlanding it, the air fare is only $10 more than the ferry ticket and has cheaper transfer options at either end. I regret not doing that in hindsight, it was a painful experience from start to finish and I'm well used to off the beaten track travel.

Basically, nobody knows anything about when the ferry will arrive/leave - not the port staff, nor even anyone at the ferry company. You might get told something definitive (each person will either tell you something different or just shrug their shoulders), but that will change, or times pass and nobody will give you an update.

When I spoke to the ferry company by phone in Aktau, they said the ferry would leave a few hours from now and I needed to get to the terminal and buy my ticket urgently as it will sell out. The ferry left two days later but was told for the duration of that time that it would arrive "in a few hours" (if told anything at all). It was mostly empty. There is nowhere to sleep other than a hard floor or equally hard benches in a half finished waiting room which you get barricaded inside. At 3am on the second night, the ferry had arrived at some point and we were allowed on. The ticket is US$80 but must be paid in Tinget at the rate set by the ticket agent - there's nowhere to change money. Have around $83 in Tinget ready or get your ticket in town before you get there.

The 18 hour crossing was actually 24 hours, the Azeri borders guards kept me for another 3 hours trying it on with a "fine" for having a "damaged passport" (it's not). Eventually I got through, there's no transport into town from there. I found a taxi after a hike and got the price down to $25 after some haggling and walking away a couple of times.

As I said, unless you're really wanting to overland, take the flight and save yourself a load of time, hassle and money.
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby Chukar » Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:34 pm

Took the ferry (Professor Gül) from Alat to Kuryk. Had luck, waited just some hours. There was a guy who waited 3 days and was sleeping in a truck. Be ready, even if someone (in our case the security-man) sais the ferry wouldnt leave today because of the wind (or wathever).

Had a window in our room wich was good because you should not flush toilet paper down the toilet. So after a while the trash-pin starts to stink. Food was okay. Some crew-members where nice and friendly, some where very unfriendly (even shouting at passenger).

One thing I really did not like about Port Kuryk is: it is out in nowhere. If you dont have a car or a bycycle you will need a taxi. We had a driver with a white minibus. He brought us to Kuryk where we had to take another taxi. Be carefull, they promise you to take you to Aktau for 20 dollars and say that he informed the guy in the second taxi from Kuryk to Aktau. You WILL pay twice! They are good organised an I believe that they are doing this with many other tourists as well. I noted his carnumber and wrote a complaint.
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby Bentherebenthat » Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:55 pm

Hi I’m heading from Nukus up to the ferry in the next few days, just checking if anybody has any updates? I don’t have a car or tent, so was wondering if anybody has stayed in the supposed hotel at the Kuryk Dock, and if so, how much is it per night? This is instead of staying in Aqtau of course.
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby beyondoverton » Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:36 pm

We crossed on Oct. 1 from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan. Let me just say that there is nothing special or amazing about this trip as a passenger on foot. It might make sense if you are a cyclist or with a car, but even then I would think twice about doing it. The only reason to do this trip is to say that you have done it.

First, it's a cargo boat which leaves from Alat, 80km south from Baku. Second, there is no schedule and even when you are told there is a boat at a specific time and day, you might end up departing between 12-24h later than the scheduled time. Third, the boat does not arrive in Aktau but 80km south at Kurul. The reason, I am mentioning this is so that people should factor in the additional time and expenses associated.

I've seen people mention different numbers to call to get information. The one that works the best is the direct number for the Caspian Shipping Company: 0559999124. They speak mostly Azeri and Russian; there is one guy who speaks very broken English.

We were told that our boat was at 10pm. We eventually departed at 6pm the following day. As one cannot buy tickets in advance (before the office knows when boats depart), you may want to arrive at Alat port a few hours in advance to secure a spot. (This is a cargo boat, but there are a limited number of cabins).

The problem is the wait after, the uncertainty that comes with nobody knowing what is happening and the uninviting conditions at the port. The facilities are not really suited for passengers on foot. Everything, including the office of the Caspian Shipping Company, the bank, the police booth, is in makeshift containers. There is a drivers’ waiting area where you are most likely to spend the night - if you find a spot - sleeping on a rickety chair with your head on the table, drunken style. There is also a shop where you can buy overpriced eggs and sausages and ask the person in the waiting area to cook them for you for a ridiculous fee. And yes, there is also a toilet which you really want to visit only when totally desperate.

The police, the stray dogs, even most of the truck drivers are though generally friendly (the environment might be uninviting but it is not threatening).

If you are lucky you will meet other crazy backpackers or cyclists like you and spend the night chatting (trust me, you won't be able to fall asleep regardless of how tired you are for more than half hour at a time, given the constant coming and going in the waiting area).

There is an enormous sigh of relief and jubilation once you are told that it is time to embark. Once on the boat, you will generally collapse in bed regardless of the time and the conditions there would all of a sudden seem like paradise: hot meals, decent toilets, even showers (not necessarily recommended). Personnel also seems nice (they offered my wife and daughter a separate cabin where they could shower and generally use the facilities if needed - there were not many women doing thus trip - all female toilets on the boat were locked).

The boat takes about 20 hours to cross if the weather allows. We got lucky. The Kurul port in Kazakhstan is a totally different matter. It is very modern (started operating only this summer). Facilities are similar to any European passenger terminal. We went to Beyeneu from there (with a stopover in Aktau). Prices are really all over the place for that trip (and it's not like one has much of a choice to negotiate at Kurul port). From Aktau to Beyneu the price for a taxi is anywhere between 5 and 20k tenge. From Beyneu then we crossed into Uzbekistan, but that was another saga…
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby tandemonde » Wed Oct 10, 2018 2:11 pm

Hi !
We will take a boat from Aktau to Baku at the end of the month. I might have a job interview at the same period... :/
Would you know if there is a way to have an internet connection in the boat ? (cellular or wifi...)
Thanks in advance for your help !
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby nomadichappiness » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:24 pm

Don't think about it. In Merkury 1, there's a little salon where it's written wifi, but It's not working. Actually, it doesn't even exist.
Services are VERY basic.
If you know the date of your job interview, just hang around Baku, waiting for the ferry. Leave at least 3 full days (72 hours) between the announced ferry departure and your interview.
I calculate : 12h probable delay from the announced departure time and the actual departure. 36h for the Caspian crossing. 4h for the Kazakh customs (might be less, but we spent that much, having a car). 12h for finding a taxi/ride to Kyryk town (20km away), a SIM card or an Internet wifi or something, in Aqtau (80km from Kyryk town). There's 8h left, for whatever delay...
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Re: Caspian sea ferry updates & questions

Postby tandemonde » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:17 pm

Thanks for your answer !

By the way, do some people use this website ?
It looks up to date...
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