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International ferries may not be the first thing that comes to mind when trying to figure how to get from point A to point B. Ferries are slower than most other transportation options and can be more expensive than flying.
Still, if possible, taking a ferry to cross international borders makes for a great travelling experience. Sometimes, ferries are the cheapest - or the only - option around.
The Royal Mail Ship "Saint Helena" travels regularly between Saint Helena and Ascension Island, Walvis Bay and Cape Town. The schedule is primarily designed to meet the needs of locals and cargo for Saint Helena, and thus follows a timetable but not a consistent routing. In general terms, the ship leaves Cape Town once a month, before heading to Saint Helena, sometimes via Walvis Bay. From Saint Helena it will then run 1 or 2 shuttles to Ascension Island, before returning to Cape Town, again sometimes via Walvis Bay. Occasionally, Cape Town is omitted, and the ship returns to Saint Helena directly from Walvis Bay.
Twice a year (in March and October) the ship travels from St. Helena via Ascension to the UK, currently docking in Portland on the South Coast. This voyage leaves Saint Helena cut off from the world for 5 or 6 weeks. The ship also calls at Tenerife in one direction, and also occasionally in Vigo (in North-West Spain) on the Northbound voyage according to cargo requirements - eg: to offload fish
The schedule changes around Christmas to allow as many people as possible to return home to Saint Helena for the festive season, and it can be virtually impossible to arrange passage to St. Helena in late November or December, or away from the Island in January unless booked at least 12months in advance. Dry-dock and other maintenance requirements mean that schedules are always open to variation.
Normal journey times to Jamestown, Saint Helena, are as follows:
Ascension Island: 3 nights
Walvis Bay: 4 nights
Cape Town: 5 nights (7 nights if ship routed via Walvis Bay)
Tenerife: 9 nights*
Portland: 14-16 nights
*As ships only serve Tenerife in one direction, there is not always an annual Tenerife - Saint Helena voyage (except via Portland). There are also no services from Vigo to Saint Helena, again, except via Portland.
The ship carries up to 128 passengers (though a number of berths are always held behind in case they are needed at short notice by visiting experts or officials), and all non Saints are required to show proof of evacuation insurance (£1million), proof of accommodation and a return ticket before their bookings will be allowed.
For travelling directly to Tristan da Cunha, there are only a few boats a year from South Africa (and sometimes Namibia). It requires special planning if you want to travel there by yourself. Most places on board are booked months if not a year in advance, mainly for locals returning to their island.
If you are lucky enough though, the trip takes 5 or 6 days and will mean you have to spend months on the island.
Tickets roughly cost about 1000 to 1200 for a return trip.
It's best to check the Tristan da Cunha website for details.
There are ferries between southwestern Tanzania and Mozambique via Malawi on the MV Songea between Mbamba Bay and Nkhata Bay. From here it goes on to Likoma Island (Malawi), Cóbuè and Metangula (both in Mozambique) on the MV Ilala. The MV Ilala departs from Monkey Bay (Malawi) at 10am Friday, arriving in Metangula (via Chipoka and Nkhotakota in Malawi) at 6am Saturday, reaching Cóbuè (Mozambique) around midday, Likoma Island at 1.30pm and Nkhata Bay at 1am Sunday morning. In southern direction departures are at 8pm Monday from Nkhata Bay and at 6.30am Tuesday from Likoma Island, reaching Cóbuè at 7am and Metangula at midday.
It's possible to travel from Mauritius to Reunion by the ferry 'Mauritius Pride'. The overnight journey takes around 12 hours.
There are also regular boat services from Mauritius and Reunion to Toamasina in Madagascar on the east coast. It departs approximately once every two weeks.
You could take a boat across Lake Chad from Bol to Nigeria, but ask around first if it is running and safe.
There are regular passenger ferries between the port city of Douala in Cameroon and both Malabo at Bioko Island as well as Bata at the mainland part of Equatorial Guinea, also called Rio Muni.
To Nigeria, there is a twice-weekly ferry from Limbe to Calabar on Monday and Thursday, and in the opposite direction every Tuesday and Friday.
To the Republic of Congo, there is a ferry across the Ngoko River to the Congolese port of Ouesso.
There are river boats (Socatraf company) between Bangui in the Central African Republic and Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo where the Congo River is met. Boats go once every two or three weeks, and only between June and November. It takes about a week. Barges serve the route as well but take about two weeks. They go every week though, are cheaper and less crowded.
Boats to Zongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo are usually off limits to foreign travellers.
Crossing between Equatorial Guinea and Gabon can be done from Cogo/Acalayong to Cocobeach by pirogue.
There are boats between Libreville and Cotonou (Benin), Sao Tome & Principe and Cameroon sometimes, but ask at the port authorities in Libreville first to check if and when they are running. It's long and uncomfortable.
There might be boats between Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, and Conakry, the capital of Guinea, but check at the respective port authorities first. It takes 36 hours to two days.
Boats travel between Kamsar in Guinea and Bissau in Guinee Bissau. The boat stops in Cacine and Kamkhonde in Guinea Bissau as well. There is no set schedule so check in the port of Conakry or Bissau, depending on weather you are going to Guinea or Guinea Bissau.
During the rainy season there are also boats along the river between Siguiri (Guinea) and Bamako, the capital of Mali. It takes a day in that direction, but two days coming from Bamako upstream.
There are dozens of options to get to Morocco by ferry, the shorter and thus cheaper ones from Spain. But ferries from France and even Italy are a possibility as well.
Chu Kong Passenger Transport Co offers many services between Hong Kong (Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry Terminal) and Hong Kong Airport and dozens of places in mainland China.
Other possible connections to and from the South Korean port city of Incheon include those to and from the Chinese cities of Yantai, Dalian, Shanghai, Tianjin and Weihai. These cities can be reached from Busan as well, including Yingkou.
To add, there are also weekly ferries crossing the sea between Shanghai and Kobe and Osaka in Japan. The ferry's destination alternates each week between Osaka and Kobe and the journey takes two days. Another line travels weekly as well between Shanghai and Osaka only. And everyday Thursday, there are ferries between Shanghai and Nagasaki. Orient Ferry plies the route between Qingdao and Shimonoseki.
There are dozens of sailings on an almost daily or twice daily basis between Japan and South Korea:
The most popular and cheapest route is between Busan and Shimonoseki.
The weekly ferries between Keelung and Kaohsiung in Taiwan and Ishigaki and Miyako in the Okinawa Prefecture have been suspended since 2008. The trip took about 18 hours and boats left Taiwan on Mondays and Okinawa on Thursdays or Fridays. There is talk of new ferries between Japan (either Okinawa or 'mainland' Japan) and Taiwan, but up until now (October 2009) there is no ferry.
Dong Chun Ferry runs two trips a week in winter and three in summer between Sokcho in South Korea and Zarubina (south of Vladivostok) in Russia.
To the latter there are so called bumboats frequently leaving for Tanjung Pengelih (Johor, Malaysia) by various privately owned companies. Ferries leave when full (12 people). Daily boat services between Changi Point and Pengerang (Johor); Tanah Merah and Sebana Cover Resort (Johor). Ferry Link offers boats between Changi Point and Tanjung Belungkor.
Penguin Ferries offers frequent ferry services between Singapore and Batam, Sekupang, Tanjung Balai, Tanjung Pinang and Lobam.
There is a daily ferry operating between Penang in Malaysia to Belawan (the port of Medan) on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia. From Penang, it leaves at 9 am, arriving at 1 pm. From Medan it leaves at 10.30 am arriving in Penang at 2.30pm. Check the Langkawi Ferry website for more detaila about schedules and prices.
The only option are ferry services between Zamboanga Peninsula (Mindanao) in the southern Philippines and Sandakan in Sabah, Malaysia with Aleson Shipping Lines, taking about 13 hours completing the journey.
There is a ferry from Phnom Penh in Cambodia to Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta. Tickets can be booked through local travel agents or at the dock. In additional there is a service from Can Tho to Phnom Penh.
A ferry across the Caspian Sea between Aktau in Kazakhstan and Baku, Azerbaijan, leaves about every seven to 10 days taking around 18 hours or so. The ferry from Baku to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan goes more frequent and is more comfortable as well, but if you want to avoid travelling to Turkmenistan the one to Kazakhstan is a good alternative.
All these international connections, including many domestic options has been described in detail in the Caribbean ferries article.
Discovery Cruise Line operates a daily (except Wednesdays) cruise ferry between Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale in Florida and Freeport on Grand Bahama. It leaves at 9:30am from Fort Lauderdale, arriving in Freeport around 1:30pm, and returns from Freeport at 5:15pm, arriving in Fort Lauderdale around 10:30pm. So a one-way trip takes around 4 hours to the Bahamas, and about 5 hours back, which barely leaves you 4 hours at Grand Bahama Island. There are options to spend the night though and take a ferry the next day back to Florida. Services on board include three buffet meals and a Las Vegas style casino! A return ticket costs around US$140.
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Ferries del Caribe offers three weekly ferries between Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic and Mayagüez in Puerto Rico. From Santo Domingo they leave on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00pm arriving in Mayagüez at 8:00am the following morning. From Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, they leave on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:00pm, and arrive in Santo Domingo at 8:00am the next morning. The journey takes about 12 hours in both directions.
Every two weeks leaving on a Sunday at 1:00pm, there is a fast ferry between Fajardo in Puerto Rico and St. John and St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands. In the opposite direction, boats leave every two weeks on a Thursday at 5:00pm from St. John and 6:00pm from St. Thomas. The trip takes about 2 hours and services are wih Transportation Services Virgin Islands.
Contact Inter Island Boat Service (340) 776-6597 for these last three international connections by ferry.
In season, ferries operated by the Anguilla Ferry System run between the islands of Anguilla and Saint Martin. They leave daily between 7:00am and 7:00pm roughly every 20 minutes between Blowing Point (Anguilla) and Marigot on the French part of St. Maarten/St. Martin.
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Although it takes a little longer compared to Saint Martin, there is also a convenient route between Anguilla and Sint Maarten directly. Ferries travel between Blowing Point in Anguilla and Philipsburg in Sint Maarten. For more information about prices and schedules of this trip can be obtained by calling (264) 497 6665.
There are possibilities to go by ferry from Saint Martin to Saint Barthélemy. The MV Voyager travels two times daily between Marigot to Gustavia, except on Wednesdays and Sundays, when it leaves from Oyster Pond on Sint Maarten (Dutch part of the island). It takes about 75 minutes from Marigot, 45 minutes from Oyster Pond. The ferries leave at 9:00am and 6:45pm.
The MV Voyager travels daily and on Wednesdays and Sundays twice daily (one in the morning at 9:00am and one in the early evening at 6:45pm) between Oyster Pound and Gustavia.
Another option is to take the high speed ferry The Edge that travels to Gustavia once a day from Tuesday till Saturday. It leaves from Pelican Marina in Dutch St. Maarten at 9:00am. This passage lasts around 45 minutes.
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The MV Dawn II has sailings 3 times a week according to schedule between Philipsburg on Sint Maarten and Fort Bay on Saba, both leeward islands of the Netherlands Antilles. Crossings are on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, leaving Saba in the morning and returning from Sint Maarten in the late afternoon, taking about 2 hours each way. Sometimes there are cancelations, so check the latest schedule over here.
Another option is taking the Edge Ferry, departing Pelican Marina in St. Maarten at 9:00am on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, returning from Saba later that day. It takes about 90 minutes to cover the sea between the islands.
The MV Fjortof is operated by Twin Islands Ferry Service Ltd (TIFS) and commenced regular ferry services to Montserrat from Antigua in December 2009, with a one-way trip time of approximately 90 minutes. The fares for the ferry service are EC$125.00 for a one-way-trip, EC$250.00 for an adult return trip and children under 12 pay EC$120 (US$1 = EC$2.65). Each passenger is allowed 2 pieces of baggage free of charge and any additional baggage is charged at EC $50.00 per piece.
No advance ticketing is required, as travelers can purchase their tickets upon check-in. To facilitate ticketing, check-in and other clearances at the point of sale at the ports, passengers are asked to check in 90 minutes in advance when travelling from Antigua and 60 minutes before the scheduled time for departure in Montserrat. In order to ensure continuity of service during the busy upcoming winter season, TIFS will have a backup ferry available to provide cover as may be required.
Travellers coming to Montserrat for the winter 2010-2011 period will benefit significantly from an expanded ferry service to the island from Antigua. From December 1st, 2010, the MV Fjortof ferry will operate the following schedule:
For further information on the service contact Twin Islands Ferry Service Ltd by phone at (268) 464 8474 or email email@example.com. Additional information on the ferry service, updates, as well as general tourism information can be found at Visit Montserrat.
L'Express des Iles operates almost daily services between the islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe. They leave Roseau, the capital of Dominica on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 3:00pm (Saturday 1:00pm) and take about 2.5 hours. In the opposite direction, they leave Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe at Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 8:00am (Sundays 10:00am) and take under 2 hours.
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L'Express des Iles has regular services between Pointe-a-Pitre and Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique. They leave almost daily around 8:00am and arrive around 11:45am. The ferries first go to Dominica, travelling onwards to Martinique.
L'Express des Iles has at least 3-4 weekly services to Castries. It's the same ferry which goes to Dominica and Martinique, thus leaving around 8:00am from Pointe-a-Pitre. It arrives in Castries around 3:00pm.
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L'Express des Iles has 3 weekly services between Dominica and Martinique at 10:15am Wednesdays and Fridays and 12:15pm on Sundays, travelling between the capitals Roseau and Fort-de-France. From Martinique they leave on Mondays at 1:00pm and Saturdays at 11:30am. It takes about 1.5 hours in both directions.
L'Express des Iles has 3 to 5 weekly sailings between the capitals of Dominica and Saint Lucia, Roseau and Castries respectively. All of them stop on their route in Fort-de-France, Martinique (see above). Most boats leave around 10am and take about 4.5 hours to complete the total journey.
Wednesdays and Fridays at 1:30pm and Sundays at 3:30pm, L'Express des Iles travels from Fort-de-France to Castries on Saint Lucia. In the opposite direction, ferries leave 5 times a week. Both crossings take about 80 minutes.
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From Union Island in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines there are ferries to and from the island of Carriacou, Grenada. The M.V. Jasper travels from Union Island to Carriacou at 6:00am on Mondays and Thursdays. In the other direction, it leaves Carriacou on the same day around noon. The costs is about EC$20.00, which is around 7.5 US Dollar. In addition various fishing boats leave Union Island at 7:30am and will drop passengers in Carriacou for about the same price. Expensive watertaxis ply the same route between Carriacou and Union Island.
There is supposed to be a weekly car ferry travelling between La Guiria in Venezuela and Chaguaramas in Trinidad and Tobago but check the port authorities if this option is still available for travellers. The ferry arrives late in Trinidad and onward transport to Port of Spain can be hard to find. As of August 2010 the ferry leaves Chaguaramus, not far from Port of Spain, Trinidad at 09:00am every Wednesday. It gets to La Guiria, Venezuela before 1:00pm local time. The main option to travel out of La Guiria is a taxi to Carupano where more travel options are available. That's the one down side to the ferry, La Guiria not having more travel options.
There are several connections from towns in the south of Belize like Dangriga and Punta Gorda to places in neighbouring Honduras and Guatemala, like Puerto Cortes (Honduras) and Puerto Barrios and Livingston (Guatemala). Services to Livingston are usually twice week, while Puerto Barrios is served on a daily basis.
Requeña’s Charter Service & Watertaxi operates a watertaxi, “Mariestela”, between Punta Gorda and Puerto Barrios. It departs Punta Gorda daily at 9:00am from the Municipal pier near the Customs & Immigration Office. It departs Puerto Barrios daily at 2:00pm from the pier near the Shell gas station. It takes about 1 to 1.5 hours and costs BZ$40.00 each way (about US$20). Check the Belizenet Requena website.
Other options include the Pichilingo, departing Puerto Barrios daily at 10:00am and departing Punta Gorda daily at 2:00pm. Duration is about 1 hour and costs BZ$50.00 each way (about US$25). Or take the Marisol departing Puerto Barrios daily at 1:00pm and Punta Gorda daily at 4:00pm. Same duration and costs. For up to date information check the following website.
There is a connection between Placencia (via Big Creek) to Puerto Cortes but it doesn't go very often, usually once a week. If you are going to/from Honduras you can take a "water taxi" here's the ferry website. Or check it at Belize Ferry website. It costs US$55 one-way. To Belize (Big Creek & Placencia), it departs Puerto Cortes every Monday at 11:30am (Leaves from "Puente Laguna" (Lagoon Bridge) next to Delfin Restaurant in Puerto Cortes) and to Honduras (Puerto Cortes) it departs Placencia every Friday at 9:30am (Leaves from Placencia Shell Dock). Thed eparture at Big Creek is every Friday at 11:00am. The boat arrives around 2:00pm.
There are also water taxis between Dangriga and Puerto Cortes. The “Nesymein Neydy” departs from Dangriga to Puerto Cortes on Fridays. The boat departs about 11:00am. Arrives at Puerto Cortes about 1:30pm. It departs Puerto Cortes on Mondays at 9:00am. It costs US$55.00 one-way.
The only option of travelling by boat between the two countries is a regular service from Lívingston in Guatemala to Omoa in Honduras.
Main article: European ferries.
Like International trains, Europe also has by far the most connections regarding international ferries.
All countries that have sea connections somehow are served by regular passenger ferries to neighbouring countries or further beyond. From Iceland to Cyprus and from Spain to Russia.
Although it might not be the fastest way and not be the most economical either, it happens to be a great way of travelling and it also saves you some time which you don't have to spend in the car, but on a luxurious overnight ferry to for example Scandinavia.
More information and details about most of the connections between countries can be found in the European ferries article.
Several ferries and fast catamarans travel between Iran and a number of other Gulf states. Destinations include Bandar Lengeh to Dubai, Bandar Abbas to Dubai and Sharjah, Khoramshahr and Bushehr to Kuwait and Bushehr to Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Dammam in Saudi Arabia. Check the Iran Traveling Center for more details about schedules and prices. To and from Kuwait, the ferries are operated by the Combined Shipping Company.
There are also speedboat services between Kuwait (Shuwaikh Port) and Manama in Bahrain, taking just around 5 hours. Contact one of the travel agencies in the respective city.
There are a number of connections between the Arabian Peninsula and countries in the northwest of Africa. For example, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia is linked to Suez in Egypt, Port Sudan in Sudan and Musawwa in Eritrea. Few services travel to and from Yemen, but you might be able to catch a place on one of the cargo ships between Yemen and the Horn of Africa (Djibouti for example). Finally, fast ferries travel between Aqaba in Jordan and Nuweiba in Sinai, Egypt.
Egypt - Jordan vv
There are ferries between Aqaba, Jordan and Nuweiba on the Sinai peninsula. There is a daily fast ferry leaving at 11am from Jordan and 3pm from Egypt. It takes 1 to 2 hours depending on sea conditions. The slow ferry leaves daily as well but costs almost the same and is much less comfortable and much slower indeed! Citizens of most European countries, North America and Australia and New Zealand can get a visa for free when entering Aqaba.
Egypt - Saudi Arabia vv
There is a irregular services between Suez and Jeddah (taking 36 hours!) but generally this is not of much use for travellers at all, because of the strict visa regulations in Saudi Arabia. There is also a fast ferry between Hurghada and Dubba, taking around 3 hours.
Egypt - Sudan vv
Apart from onward ferries from Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), you can take a weekly ferry from Aswan to Wadi Halfa in Sudan. You will need a valid Sudanese visa or otherwise you won't be able to board the ferry. Check departures localy as these may vary.
Although there is no fixed scheduled, there should be a couple of traditional dhow travelling between Mokha in Yemen and Djibouti. It takes around 20 hours to cover this route. To add, there should be crossings to the southern port city of Aden in Yemen as well.
There are several options to get from the United States to Canada and back:
All of the international ferries and many domestic routes are described in detail in the Pacific ferries article.
The only option to get to American Samoa by boat is taking the MV Lady Naomi. It operates between the capital of Samoa, Apia, and the capital of American Samoa, Pago Pago, once a week departing Apia every Wednesday at midnight returning from Pago Pago every Thursday at 3:30pm, taking around 7 hours to complete the journey. Expect rough rides now and then. Although it costs about half compared to a plane ticket, it is rather basic and takes much much longer of course. The return deck/cabin fare from American Samoa is US$75/100 and tickets have to be purchased at least one day in advance from Polynesia Shipping Services.
Three cargo ships sail between Apia in Samoa and Tokelau. Bookings for the 20-hour (or more, this is to the nearest atoll, Fakaofo) trip can be made in Apia at the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office (685-20822, 71805; firstname.lastname@example.org; PO Box 865, Apia, 8:00am-5:00pm Monday to Friday). Sailings are usually fortnightly (2-3 times a month) but sometimes there are more sailings. Return deck/cabin fares are NZ$290/530 per adult; children half price. The MV Tokelau makes the trip to Tokelau every two or three weeks and in n addition, there are larger, passenger/cargo vessels that are hired to make the round trip every month or so. If you have a choice go for a hired vessel as they are more comfortable and have more passenger bunks than the one-cabin MV Tokelau.
The MVs Nivaga II and Manu Folau, both government-owned cargo/passenger ships, travel to between Tuvalu and Suva, Fiji, every three months or so and the takes about four days. One-way fares are A$73/316 for deck/double cabin, with meals. Pacific Agencies (email@example.com) is the agent for the MV Nivaga II and Manu Folau in Suva, the Marine Services Office in Funafuti.
The cargo boat Nei Matagare makes trips roughly once a month between Tuvalu and Fiji and you might find a berth on this boat as well. Williams & Goslings are its Suva agents.
It is possible to travel by boat from the Bougainville province in Papua New Guinea into the Solomon's Western Province, though it is not a regular official passenger service. Also check with the authorities if it's legal to cross into any of the countries this way, as there have been reports of people that have been send back.
There are few services between Argentina and Chile, but there are regular crossings from Ushuaia on Tierra del Fuego to Puerto Williams on the Isla de Navarino, one of the most southern permanent settlements in the world.
There are several short services between Brazil and Peru. In the north near the border with Colombia there are services between Tabatinga in Brazil and Santa Rosa in Peru. There are also both slow and fast boats between Tabatinga and Iquitos directly.
In the south of Peru there is a service between Assis Brazil and Inapari by ferry across the Rio Acre.
Boat travel across the river between Brazil (Oiapoque) and French Guiana (Saint Georges).
Regular boats connect French Guiana and Suriname, crossing the Marowijne River.
Regular boats connect Suriname and Guyana, crossing the Corantijn River.
In the west of Venezuela there are several river crossings to and from Colombia, but they are mostly used by travellers that want to visit Colombia on a daytrip from Venezuela. The most used crossing is from the Venezuelan town of Puerto Ayachucho in the Amazon/Orinoco area of Venezuela.
There is supposed to be a weekly car ferry travelling between La Guiria in Venezuela and Chaguaramas in Trinidad and Tobago but check the port authorities if this option is still available for travellers. See Caribbean ferries as well.
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