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________________________________________________________________Rome to Sicily, Italy
Posted by CMT54
"Bellini", the night train from Rome (Termini) to Siracusa, leaves around 9pm, and is loaded onto the ferry across the Straits of Messina very early the next morning (6-ish). You just lie in bed while it's loading, and can then go up and have a coffee on deck and watch the light over the coast of Sicily, although you could just stay in bed and wait for the attendant to bring you the cappuccino or espresso you ordered the night before (at the carriage door, when you get on).
There are four-person couchettes, but there's something really romantic about proper sleepers, and a two person compartment (single bunks with proper sheets, plus complementary toiletries, mineral water, coffee) - costs just €75 pp. If you want something more luxurious you can have a double bed compartment with ensuite shower etc for €140 pp.
The air conditioned train then follows the coast, through Taormina, and arrives in Siracusa at about 10 am. We love going to bed and waking up 500 miles away, right where we want to be - it's a great way to unwind at the start of a holiday.
Italian night trains are all good value, but the crossing - and the destination - makes this one the best.www.trenitalia.com
________________________________________________________________Istanbul to Princes Islands Ferry, Turkey
Posted by FionaSE7
Do what the Istanbullers do. Escape the heat of the city with a ferry day trip to the Princes Islands. Drink tea and eat bagels served to your seat during the 1 ½ journey as the ferry stops at four of the islands before terminating at the ornate Ottoman quay on Büyükada. Take an island tour by phaeton (no cars allowed on the islands). Stroll along the shopping streets. Marvel at the extraordinary ice cream parlours. Eat fish on the waterfront, then return to the city. For just three TL (£1.50) each way, a bargain.
Ido Ferries, regular departures from Kabatas quay, Istanbul. www.ido.com.tr/en/index.cfm
________________________________________________________________Spain to Morocco
Posted by bowbank
If you’re staying on the Costa del Sol, the Rif Mountains of Morocco glitter tantalisingly on the horizon… and for about 50 euros each for a return trip, you can take a ferry which spans two hours and two cultures.
You can leave from Algeciras, an enormous, industrial port with an expensive car park, or drive a little further round the coast and use the more low-key port of Tarifa, which also has a free car park right by the ferry terminal.
Don’t forget the Moroccan time difference when catching the return boat, and also, make sure you get your immigration forms stamped on board before arriving.
The ferry is often rammed full of travellers returning from harvesting jobs in Europe, and a bag of sweets to share with curious children is a real ice breaker (a pack of Polos was shared between dozens of families).
You get great views of the Rock of Gibraltar and usually there are dolphins accompanying the ferries. In Tangiers, you can hire a guide for about 25 euros and experience the Kasbah and the markets for a few hours- a rowdy, colourful jumble - and try some of the unusual food and drink before returning to Europe… which will now seem grey and homogenous!
Several ferry companies including:www.gotarifa.com/en/arrival/ferry_tarifa.html
________________________________________________________________Palermo to Naples, Italy
Posted by happyholidays
On our way back from Sicily we caught this ferry to connect with the train at Naples.
We arrived on foot at Palermo dock gates, enquiring where to go, and were whisked away by minibus to the ticket office. The minibus waited to take us to the ship - it was a really friendly, personal service.
The ferry was modern and well-equipped, with decent food. One of the highlights was the evening entertainment in the bar - the pianist played requests and a succession of Italians (mainly lorry drivers I reckon) played at being Pavarotti. It was fab and you did get the feeling it was a regular thing.
In the morning we had the pleasure of arriving in the Bay of Naples with Vesuvius looming in the background. The only slight problem came when we got off the boat and the only shop selling bus tickets to the station didn't open for a couple of hours, so we had to invest in a taxi; a small price to pay.
Book SNAV ferries online, it's a very efficient service.www.snav.it/en
________________________________________________________________Bodo to Stamsund, Lofoten Islands, Norway
Posted by NealeT
Norway offers many spectacular ferry journeys. But few match the crossing from Bodo to Stamsund. It was the original section of the Hurtigrute (set up by the once remote Lofoten islanders to get their fish to more lucrative markets further south). Now it's increasingly part of the Bergen-North Cape cruise route, but the lower decks of the boats are still ferries, shipping goods and passengers at the many ports en route.
There's a long stop and much loading and unloading at Bodo as it's the end of the rail line from Oslo (on which I travelled) so most grades of accommodation, including B&B, are not difficult to find there.
Like most ferry crossings a fine day helps. Views of distant island peaks 40 miles away stretch half way across the northern horizon soon after leaving port. It's also a two-hour journey open to the Atlantic, so it can be rough. For me it was calm and sunny.
The peaks of the Lofoten Islands became more distinct, more jagged, more enticing, 1000 metre peaks touched with snow here and there, as the ship plods towards them. By half-way across they are a child's picture book of fairy tale mountains surrounded by sea of many shades and hues spanning the horizon and with hints of the bright yellows and reds of the traditional fishing villages just visible along the shore. Everyone's on deck to savour the view.
Alas Stamsund arrives all too soon. Alas as not only is it this journey's end (the ship continues its equally spectacular route through the islands eastwards), but it's not much of a place either. It has a youth hostel and a hotel, but is mainly a small working port. However, a bus service connects it to the rest of the Lofotens for those who want to adventure further.
Bodo is just north of the Artic circle on the Norwegian coast.
Details of the Hutigrute and timetable can be found on the web.www.hurtigruten.co.uk
Posted by VictoriaML
For a fantastically unique and cheap (from €9 one way) ferry hop around Sicily’s beautiful, charming and untouched Aegadian islands you can’t beat the Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo trio, leaving from the port of Trapani, northwest Sicily.
The round trip is a couple of hours and there are enough ferries to allow you to sample all the islands in a single day, but equally there is accommodation on all the islands if you wish to extend your visit.
The tiny island of Levanzo hosts the cave of the Genoese with its pre-historic paintings. Favignana is known for its butterflies, grottoes, beaches, bays and tuna fishing – and don’t miss the local restaurant speciality of spaghetti and tuna botargo at the La Bettola restaurant in the port. The final island on the route is Marettimo, with its whitewashed, colourfully shuttered homes, ports filled with fishing boats and unbelievably blue water.www.ferriesonline.com