Difference between revisions of "Ferries in the Red Sea"
Revision as of 11:49, 18 January 2013
This page aims to provide an overview of all the ferry services in the Red Sea between Middle Eastern countries.
Many tourists want to travel between Jordan and Egypt with both offering a huge amount for tourists to see. These countries also act as gateways to other countries in the region. Many travellers want to avoid travelling through Israel due to the difficulties of the border crossing and possible problems crossing into other countries later.
Check with the relevant authorities to make sure that you are able to get the required visas either beforehand or on arrival.
Jordan to Egypt
Aqaba - Nuweiba
The company ABMaritime, . runs boats between Aqaba and Nuweiba every day except Saturday. There are two classes of boats - a slow ferry and a fast ferry. By all accounts from other travellers attempting this crossing, the fast ferry is worth the extra USD$10. The fast ferry is supposed to run twice daily and costs USD$70.
Tickets MUST be bought at the ABMaritime office in Aqaba town and cannot be bought at the Port of Aqaba which is located 10 km south of the city.
Once at the port, you must pay your departure tax on the ground floor of the white building (8 JD), but note that there are NO ATMs at the port, so make sure you have cash. There is a currency exchange upstairs. Once the departure tax has been paid, go upstairs and get your passport stamped by immigration officials.
Buses will take you to the ferry, and once on board you will notice everyone lining up at a window inside the vessel. Once the queue has shrunk, head to the window and talk to the Egyptian border official. If you are only staying in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt, or already have an Egyptian visa you will just get your passport stamped and returned. If you need an Egyptian visa your passport will be collected for pickup at the port.
Note that although the ferry is quoted as taking one hour, it takes an additional hour at either end to load/unload the ferry. Once you arrive in Nuweiba you will be on the boat for a while longer.
Once in Egypt, if your passport was collected you must buy a visa sticker from either of the banks where the bus drops you and then find the two story brick building to collect your passport. The Egyptian visa costs USD$15 at the port.
Aqaba - Taba
Taba is a better port for tourists than Nuweiba (the crossing is shorter, so cheaper and less likely to be cancelled due to bad weather). There are two ferries - Sindbad (email Aqaba@sindbadjo.com) and Babel (email firstname.lastname@example.org). (Note: this information is correct as of Jan 2013. Prices include all port fees and tax except Jordan departure tax which is 10 JOD. See below for how to pay this tax!)
Egypt to Jordan
Nuweiba - Aqaba
The company ABMaritime, . runs boats between Nuweiba and Aqaba every day except Saturday. There are two classes of boats - a slow ferry and a fast ferry. By all accounts from other travellers attempting this crossing, the fast ferry is worth the extra USD$10. The fast ferry is supposed to run twice daily and costs USD$70. You must pay in USD when buying a ticket as other currency is not accepted.
The ticket office at Nuweiba port is south of the port complex. As you look at the port, it is to the right on the other side of the first cross intersection. There are separate lines for Egyptians and foreigners and because of the paper work involved to transport vehicles on the boat the lines are long. Allow 90 minutes to get your ticket. You will need to pay the fare in USD and also a 50 Egyptian Pound departure tax at the same time.
Inside the port, follow the other people into the immigration room to get your passport checked and wait in the large 'waiting room' shed. Note that the ferries can be very unreliable in regards to schedule so keep asking the officials what time the vessel will depart. It is not uncommon for a ferry scheduled for 12pm to be delayed until 6pm. There is limited food options here no make sure you bring some snacks and lunch with you. There are some well priced cafes outside the port, and a good selection of food once on the fast ferry.
If possible, avoid putting your bags in the cages that are lined up before the ferry. It is preferable to leave your bags inside the hold of the boat instead. At the other end they throw the bags out of the cages on the ground so make sure there is nothing fragile in them.
Buses will take you to the ferry, and once on board you will notice everyone lining up at a window inside the vessel. Once the queue has shrunk, head to the window and talk to the Jordanian border official. If you have a non-Arabic passport the official will probably take your passport for collection once inside Aqaba port. Once you walk into the white building, it is down a passage way on the right past the currency exchangers.
Note that although the ferry is quoted as taking one hour, it takes and additional hour at either end to load/unload the ferry. Once you arrive in Nuweiba you will be on the boat for a while longer.
Meenagate Touristic Marine Line  runs passengers only ferry services between Nuweiba and Aqaba. Meenagate's fast ferry leaves Nuweiba at 6.00am and the journey takes roughly one hour and thirty minutes. Coming back from Aqaba can be done in one day: the ferry leaves Jordan at 6pm. They have their own terminal in the pyramid shaped building at Nuweiba port, which improves the speed of checking in.
Taba is a better port for tourists than Nuweiba (the crossing is shorter, so cheaper and less likely to be cancelled due to bad weather). There are two ferries - Sindbad Aqaba@sindbadjo.com and Babel. The Sindbad boats sails daily from Taba - Aqaba at 7am Egyptian time every morning and returns at 8:30pm Jordanian time. There are extra weekend trips sailing Friday from Aqaba at 1:30pm Jordan and returning 2:30pm Egyptian, and Sunday 12:30pm Jordanian and returning 1:30pm Egyptian. Prices are adults ( over 12 years old ) 100$, children (12 years – 6 years ) 70$, children (6years – 2years ) 60$, infants below 2years are free of charge. Prices above does not include Jordan departure tax which is 14.5$.
IMPORTANT: Taba-Aqaba The boats from Taba to Aqaba are mainly used by tour operators doing daily trips from Sharm el-Sheikh to Petra. If you take this boat, you will likely be the only person who isn't travelling with a tour operator. This means that when you arrive at Aqaba you have to get you own visa stamp in your passport, but the staff are likely to be unaware of this! On arrival at the marina, queue up with everyone to get your passport stamped with an entry stamp. Tell them that you need a visa stamp. If you have only a single stamp that says "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan" it is not enough, you also need the stamp with "Visa No:" on it. Do not leave the port without it!
Make sure you are watching your belongings at all times. There are a few hundred people waiting to catch the same ferry as you.
Also, women (and men) should be mindful of dressing appropriately for the local population. The ferries and ports are frequented most by Arabs.
There are plenty of blog posts out there about the ferry crossings between Egypt and Jordan. Just be mindful of the date some of these were written to avoid misinformation.
From Aqaba catch a taxi into town (refuse to pay more than 10 JD) and either spend a day or two exploring and relaxing in the Jordanian seaside resort, or head to the bus station and see what else Jordan has to offer.
From Nuweiba head directly to the East Delta bus station. Buses regularly leave from here to Cairo, Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh. Additionally there is a minibus service connecting Nuweiba to St. Catherine. Bedouin Bus  runs twice weekly bus services and has a bus stop at the port, opposite the East Delta bus terminal.