Caspian Sea ferry from Baku to Aktau

Caspian Sea ferry from Baku to Aktau

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If you plan to take the ferry for financial reasons, it makes no sense. The ferry ticket is not a hot deal. In October 2015 the price was $110. To save time, an alternative way is to go through the Caspian Sea by plane from Baku to Aktau. It costs only a few dollars more and saves at least 30 hours of your life.

If you are convinced to take the boat it’s important to know that there is no such a thing as a timetable. The amount of traffic will determine how often a ferry goes. It can take anywhere from one day to a week so it’s important to take your visa status into consideration.

How to get a ticket?

Every morning we asked Adem, (one of our hosts) to call to the ticket office and ask when the ferry departs, as tickets can only be purchased the same day you plan to ride. You do not know how long the cruise will last.  In fact, the location of the ticket office may change several times a day. In our case it took up to four days to get a positive response.  After that we had around 2 hours to find the ticket office, which was not easy, since there are no official signs. It was a bit like a real life adventure game.

Gps 40.372931, 49.861316

An important note is that you cannot use local currency to purchase tickets. They accept only US dollars. For the price of $110 each you will receive a cabin for 2 with a shower.  Don’t expect too much, it’s still not a cruise boat.

Where does the ferry depart?

Cruise tickets can be purchased at ticket office in Baku but you will need to board ferry from a new port in Alat, 70 km south of Baku, instead of in Baku. A taxi ride from Baku to Alat costs 50AZN (aproximetly 30 USD). But you can catch a bus 195 for 2 AZN, and after one hour ride you will see the Alat port on your left. The Bus doesn’t  stop nearby the port but if you ask nicely driver drops you off on the highway.
Caspian Sea Ferry

Border control in Azerbaijan (Alat)

We had to be in Alat before 11pm (even though the ferry departed around 8am next day). Besides the regular passport check, they’ve decided to look through our backpacks (not really scrupulously) and they checked whether we have the required documents needed. Azeris won’t let you take the boat unless you have a Kazakh visa in your passport. All went really fast and nicely, they don’t have many tourists there since the plane tickets charged almost the same price  

How long it will take to get through the Caspian See?

Most of the cruises are direct from Baku to Aktau which last from 24 to 48 hours.  However, there are some that have a layover in Tajikistan  which can elongate the cruise up to 70 hours.  In our case it took us around 40 hours to make it to Kazakhstan.

The Cruise

We were a band of 5 foreigners by this point as myself and Iza were joined by who planned to drive across Kazakhstan with they own car. The other passengers were truck drivers.

By the fact that we were the only women on the ferry we got some kind of privileges and constant companion of the crew members.  We could wander around freely and they even let us see captain’s cabin. Also we couldn’t complain about food, they provide us more food that we could eat!

Border control in Kazakhstan (Aktau)

After 36 hours, we pull into the port of Aktau. On the site we were greeted by the border guards. Although the soldiers were more than passengers, debarking from a ship took about 3 hours. Each of us was brought into the room where they were questioned us. We were asked “standard crossborder question” as well as our personal approach to the immigration crisis in Europe.

The whole conversation was quite bizarre, because custom guard couldn’t speak English, so he asked his subordinate to translate his questions from Russian to English maintaining a grim, hardened face all the while.

None of us was emerging from his thoughts, however a perfunctory response was sufficient to satisfy the Kazakh guard, so after commemorative photographs we were allowed to go ashore to be able to pass two consecutive inspections :)
Caspian Sea Ferry

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We've met each other during classes the least associated with our faculty at the university and it couldn't be an accident. Silly grinning at our English teacher telling about his hitch-hiking adventures, we haven't known yet that we will begin to travel together. The series of unfortunate events made us share a tent, a camera and memories. Now almost nothing can stop us from hitch-hiking.

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