Travel in a new country can be daunting. Especially when there is not a lot of reliable information online or you like to book things in advance. When you are traveling around Egypt, reading recent blogs and first hand information is critical (or at least, very helpful) to ensure your plans go smoothly. When we visited, we wanted to take the Jordan to Egypt ferry that goes along the Red Sea leaving Nuweiba and arriving into Aqaba. This post will be extremely helpful if you plan on taking this route in either direction.
But it does not stop at ferries, there are plenty of other ways to get around the country. You can read all about them in this post.
Getting Around in Egypt and Ferry from Egypt to Jordan Information
If you are looking for more information on travel in Jordan, click here.
Travelling around Egypt is quite straightforward and a lot can be booked online, with a travel agent or at a ticket desk.
Travel by air in Egypt can cover long distances in short amounts of time, but we found that most connections were via Cairo. For instance, when we wanted to leave Sharm el Sheikh and go to Aswan, we had to first fly to Cairo.
It is relatively easy to hire a car or taxi to take you for a day trip, or shorter distances. But I suggest asking around. We had 1400LE and 750LE quoted for a 2 hour trip from Sharm el Sheikh to Nuweiba. So it can vary quite a lot. Ask your hotel, ask a taxi driver, hop on a mini bus and ask them too!
Getting in and out of Egypt can be done by air, land or sea. Here is a little synopsis on how to get around in the country and I will add more information as I get it.
Egypt Air Travel
Egypt Air and Nile Air are popular options to travel by air. We flew with both (Egypt Air from Jordan to Luxor and then from Luxor to Cairo and Nile Air from Cairo to Sharm el Sheikh). Both airlines served us meals, which was a nice change from most short haul flights I have been on lately! We had an airport transfer from Sharm el Sheikh Airport to our Movenpick Naama Bay hotel. You can also get Airport transfers from Cairo here, Luxor here.
Egypt Nile Cruises
There are lots of Nile cruise options. You can check out some tour companies that offer Nile Cruises that you can book in advance here:
Nile Cruises are a popular way to travel from Luxor to Aswan or visversa or round trip sailings. It is a nice way to have your hotel move with you. Most sailings are 3 to 5 days or 7 days round trip! We have not taken a Nile Cruise but hope to take one on our next visit to the region!
Egypt Train Travel
Train travel in Egypt is one of those modes of transportation that has a locals price, and a tourists price. Tourists are not able to buy tickets for the cheap trains (without doing it online) and are only sold the overnight sleep train tickets for certain routes. This is the case for Cairo to Luxor and Aswan routes. There are work arounds (such as buying online) where you can get rates more than 75% cheaper than the tourist price for the sleeper trains. So do your research about travelling Egypt by train and pick what works best for you! We have not taken a train in Egypt yet, but hope to return in 2018 and continue to explore Egypt.
Now to my main post, Travelling the Red Sea from Nuweiba in the Sharm el Sheikh region to Aqaba Jordan by Ferry.
Ferry from Egypt to Jordan
There did not seem to be a ton of reliable information on where and how we could travel from Egypt to Jordan on the Red Sea by boat. Or what the schedules even were for Jordan to Egypt Ferry. Could I get a visa on arrival? Were the departures from Sharm el Sheikh, Taba, Dahab or Nuweiba? After a bit of digging, we found that there was daily service from Nuweiba to Aqaba on the Red Sea. Nuweiba was about 2 hours drive North of Sharm el Sheikh and an hour north of Dahab. Sounds like fun, right?
Looking to travel from Cairo? Read this post about getting to Amman from Cairo
Planning on visiting Dahab? Check out this list of the best things to do in Dahab.
Egypt to Jordan Ferry: Our Nuweiba to Aqaba Experience
Hassle, Hassle, Hassle.
I was told everything would be a hassle. “Dont take the ferry to Aqaba,” I was warned. “You can wait for hours!”
For Safety Reasons, you should fly in and out of the region – A recommendation coming from travel.gc.ca
But Egypt had been nothing like I was expecting. Besides a few vendors who were trying to sell their goods, and the random “would you like a taxi?” questions from random men the second you stood still and looked around Egypt has been an extremely good experience. Read my post on 6 Things to know before visiting Egypt for more info!
Yes, I had a day where I did not like how our day went in Cairo. We all have bad days, right?
It was going to be CAD1200 (about USD 800 ) to fly back to Jordan from Sharm El Sheikh, or a 7 hour bus ride to Cairo and about CAD800 ( USD 500 ) to still get to Amman. The flights did not have good connections and it meant we would be spending all day sitting in Cairo airport, or we had the option to stay in Cairo for a few days and see more of the city.
Cost of Ferry from Nuweiba, Egypt to Aqaba, Jordan
I was intrigued at the option to take the ferry from Egypt to Jordan, and despite the STEEP PRICE USD90 per person (as of Dec 1 2017 it was changed to US75 per person over 2 years old), it meant a two hour car ride, a night in a Nuweiba hotel near the port and an arrival into Aqaba (Which unfortunately it is a long weekend in Jordan, an Islamic holiday, and there are less than 10 hotels with rooms.)
The photos below are where to buy the tickets for the Nuweiba to Aqaba Red Sea Ferry.
Important AB Maritime Nuweiba Aqaba Ferry Information
We were told that we needed to purchase our tickets at least 2 hours in advance of the sailing. It sounded super annoying but as you read below, you are exiting a country and need to have your luggage x-rayed.
You do not buy your tickets at the port. You buy them around the corner at AB Maritime office. Make sure you get your tickets from the ticket office before you go to the port entrance!
AB Maritime Schedule Red Sea Ferries
Egypt to Jordan Schedule
Nuweiba to Aqaba Trip 1 12:00 – 4:00
Nuweiba to Aqaba Trip 2 1:00 – 4: 00
We were not offered trip one or trip two, but I came to know that trip 2 was the fast, tourist aqaba nuweiba fast ferry and trip 1 was more the vehicle and passenger ferry. Trip 1 did not even leave at 12, it was scheduled for 12:30 but as you see below, it did not leave on time.
Jordan to Egypt Schedule
Aqaba to Nuweiba Trip 1 23:00 – 1:00
Aqaba to Nuweiba Trip 2 23:00 – 24:00
These are current to Feb 2018. Check the schedules on the AB Maritime here.
If you are not in Nuweiba, there is also a ferry from Taba to Aqaba
AB Maritime Aqaba Taba Ferry Schedule
Taba to Aqaba Ferry (Sun, Tu, Th, Fri, Sat) 13:30 – 14:30
Aqaba to Taba Ferry (Tu, Th, Fri) 10:00 – 11:00
These are current to Feb 2018. Check the schedules on the AB Maritime here.
You do not buy your tickets at the port. You buy them around the corner. Make sure you get your tickets
We are now sitting on the AB Maritime ship taking us back to Jordan. I sit in a room with about 200 Arabic men. Not only am I the only white person (minus my two kids), but the only woman. I wonder what takes these men to Jordan, most carrying green coloured passports, which I assume indicate that they are Egyptian, not Jordanian (their passports are blue). Work, I can only assume.
We have been escorted from the entrance by the tourism police. I have not had to say a word on account of my Arabic speaking boyfriend. Who today is my husband for optics. Usually my Canadian passport makes smooth entry to most places, but a small tip in Cairo airport last week also gave us the same kind of escort. I am assuming this official is just trying to make a living.
After we fill out our exit forms, the officer hands our passports over to the man in the customs booth, asking us to take a seat. About 5 minutes later we are called back, our passports stamped, and we are led again, by the same official, to sit down on the far side of the waiting area, away from those who are already sitting.
Egypt to Jordan Ferry Ride
Right at 12:30 we started to load the Nuweiba to Aquaba ferry. An Australian man, who had been in a car accident and was likely sporting a broken arm, joins us as the only foreigners getting on the ferry. While a hundred men queue, we are taken to the front of the line, our passports presented to another police officer by our “escort” and we are allowed on the boat.
Our escort surrenders his sidearm to another policeman standing outside the ship as he will show us on board. I have seen more security here at the port than almost anywhere in Egypt. But the security is not intimidating. There was a man at the entrance of the port behind a pile of sandbags, an automatic machine gun in front of him. Three other men checked our ID as we walked through a metal detector and had our luggage scanned before we were granted entry. This does not bother me one bit. I am happy to have my luggage screened. I am aware that those who wish to terrorize others live here, and if security makes it as tough as possible, it is a good thing.
I was expecting army clad men with rifles almost everywhere, but the security forces that I have seen have not bothered me. I have seen worse in places like Mexico 15 years ago. I can only wonder how the Mexican police act now.
Now on board, Jordanian officials checked our passports and took our tickets. Our passports were also checked by at least three other officials from the entrance to the port, to the front door, to the customs booth where we got our exit stamp. I haven’t decided if the left hand doesn’t trust the right or if everyone just needs to look like they have something to do. Regardless, our entry was more-or-less like entering an airport.
Awad has assured the police officer that he will see that the Aussie gets to the hospital in Aqaba for an X-ray and he leaves us on board after receiving a small tip for his services.
We are on the boat. It is not the lavish boat that AB Maritime shows on its website. But I am not surprised, and it is fine. There is a trolly for luggage, and an escalator to get up to the main deck. I got a questionable look taking my carry on bag up to the passenger deck, while most were reposting their suitcases and plastic bags on to the trolly. I do not fear theft, But I wasn’t about to unpack my laptop and camera because my purse is already bursting with the junk I carry around on a daily basis.
If you are planning a Middle East Visit, read my packing list for Jordan. It applies to visiting other Middle Eastern countries as well!
Shabby mix matched chairs, likely bought second hand from a ferry going to the scrap yard, at least give us a comfortable spot to sit. The ash tray from the back of the seat in front have been removed. Smoking must be on the outside deck only. A rarity, to see non-smoking rules after three weeks of smoking in hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and even malls!
There is a cafeteria. Thankfully something to eat. Besides snacks, they have chicken and rice, which was quite good.
1:45 we depart. I haven’t found out where the life jackets are yet, which was my first comment when we decided to take the ferry. You always here about those far away ferry disasters on the news. Well, maybe I am on one of those ferries.
Arriving into Aqaba Port from Nuweiba, Egypt
Leaving an hour late meant an hour late arrival, and as a foreigner, I was escorted off the ferry first, along with the Australian and a Chinese visitor. All of the Jordanian’s had had their passports stamped on the ferry by a customs agent, and the Egyptian men did not need a visa, so I guess the point was to let us get through all the paperwork first.
Jordanian Visa’s in Aqaba are Free
On arrival to Queen Alia Airport in Amman, visitors to Jordan are required to obtain a visitor visa costing JD40 for a single entry visa (You can read about renewing a visitor visa in Jordan by clicking the link). But in Aqaba, the Single Entry Visa’s are Free. If you want to save money in Jordan, find out about arriving by ferry or air into Aqaba.
Again it was one of those line up after line up processes. One stamp from an agent, another signature from another, but finally we were able to leave. Or so I thought. Our bags were inspected by Customs on arrival. While bags are scanned in Amman on arrival also, despite scanning in Aqaba, they also went through each case, bit by bit. a few hundred people, having each bag inspected by 3 agents. It took awhile. It was dark before we finally got outside!
Overall, our ferry experience was totally fine, and despite the steep price tag, the cost of an extra hotel and a private car from Sharm el Sheikh to Nuweiba, it was quite a bit cheaper than travelling by air. It did however, take about the same amount of time as flying, but made for a more interesting day!
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Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada and shares her love of travel on this website. She is passionate about showing others that they should not put off traveling the world just because they have young children or are single parents. She aims to encourage them to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.