Getting to Egypt by Sea or Land
by Jimmy Dunn
We frequently receive requests for information about ferry transportation to Egypt, and over the years, we have often attempted to find this sort of transportation, but to no avail. We did not confine our searches to the internet, but also talked to people in Alexandria and other ports. We were sometimes told that ferries from Europe and other origins did come to Egypt, but we could never get any details. Of course, maritime travel was at one time about the only way to get to Egypt, but today, due to the economy of airlines, available resources for sea travel to Egypt is limited. Still, there are those who would sometimes like to bring a vehicle to Egypt, which even with a ferry service can be daunting.
Now, due to the Greek Olympics, which are expected to provide a boost to tourism in that country, we decided to look again, and sure enough, perhaps because of the expansion of the internet, we made some discoveries, though alas, not very good discoveries.
Specifically Salamis Lines has provided service between Greece and Port Said in Egypt, with stops at other Mediterranean ports as well. Conveniently, Salamis Lines left out of Peiraias, the main port at Athens and took about two and a half days to get to Port Said in Egypt. Now the bad news, or at least the first bad news. Due to the Olympics, the line has stopped servicing Egypt for the time being, and may or may not resume the service. Apparently, also due to Greece getting perhaps a future tourism boost from the games, the line may change their routes, but this is unknown at this time. The other bad news is that Mediterranean car ferries are said to be notoriously expensive, costing for a round trip, some say, and we were not able to get this information out of the Salamis Line at this time, as much as $450.00 for a round trip. Therefore, it could not have been considered an economical method of getting to Egypt when one considers that airfare is simply cheaper. Just a cursory look for airfares between Athens and Cairo shows Olympic Airlines charging about $336 for a round trip. No doubt a harder look would reveal much cheaper fares. In fact, the only real good reasons for one to take a ferry to Egypt is because they are afraid to fly, or they want to bring a car.
And of course, there are other ways to get a car to Egypt, though one must have an adventurous soul to do so, and this still does not mean that it will end up being cheaper than flying. One way is to drive in though this would only apply to Europeans, as opposed to tourists from North America (obviously, those living near Egypt, such as in the Middle East, southern or western Africa, could do so much more easily). For example, if one can drive from Europe to Jordan, there is a Ferry between over the gulf of Aqaba to Nuweiba which allows cars. The journey takes around six hours, and covers only 70 km. The price is steep too, however.
For Israel, crossing the border between the two countries can be done via the route of Gulf of Aqaba at Taba. However, one must keep in mind that because of regional political considerations, the journey by car (or for that matter by land regardless of whether one is in their own car), is somewhat fluid. One must also remember that, given the period of time all this would take, and the various hassles that are almost certainly assured, it will almost certainly end up being cheaper to simply buy an airline ticket, which from Europe is not excessive anyway.
There are several issues that need to be addressed about bringing cars into Egypt, as well. Of course, first of all, one must have an international drivers license, and one must also buy liability insurance on the car, which can get a little expensive. Furthermore, it is a bureaucratic mess that can result in a number of "payments" having to be made, and in some instances it may not be possible at all, such as in the case of diesel cars, we understand. In any event, time should be planned for a wait on the border. Also, unless someone is familiar with the driving habits of Egyptians, one should absolutely under no circumstances attempt to drive in Egypt.
In other words, unless one has a very good reason for wanting to bring a car into Egypt, it is much cheaper to rent one in Egypt, and better still to leave the driving to the Egyptians. In most instances, such as transportation around Cairo, it will be cheaper just to take taxis.
There are a few other issues that need to be addressed about getting to Egypt any other way besides flying. For example, we also understand that one cannot arrive in Egypt as a freight ship passenger. The Egyptian authorities do not allow either embarking or disembarking from freighters by passengers.
So how can one get to Egypt other than by air, or by way of a very adventurous land route from Europe? That's actually a very simple question with a number of one sided options, all surrounding cruise ships. Any number of Mediterranean Cruises stop over in Egypt. One need only do a simple search on the Internet to find these. Unfortunately, many of them offer only very limited tours of Egypt. However, in part two of this series, we will explore such cruises.
Last Updated: June 9th, 2011