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Sahara Travel Forum Topics specific to North Africa and the Sahara down to the 17th parallel (excludes Morocco)
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  #1  
Old 6 Oct 2008
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Anyone used Marseilles-Algiers ferry?

This seems the obvious ferry to take to get to Algeria and go south - it is easily bookable and costs about the same as the ferry to Tunis - yet there is a definate lack of enthusiasm or info re this crossing - with the Overland book dismissing it as 'a ferry that hasnt been used by Europeans for ages' -with no other reasoning - is it just that the Tunis ferry means you avoid northern Algeria...and that is why it is recommended...any info appreciated as I'm about to book it!
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  #2  
Old 7 Oct 2008
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'a ferry that hasnt been used by Europeans for ages' -with no other reasoning

That sums it up reasonably well. I took it last Jan and was the only non-Algie off the packed boat and took them by surprise at the port. Same reaction in 2006 I recall (first time in 18 years - see link below). I believe a few other Euros do it per year.

is it just that the Tunis ferry means you avoid northern Algeria...and that is why it is recommended

Correct. I did Algiers in Jan as a bike importing experiment and as i was heading straight down the TSH but got bogged down for 2 days with Customs - not a problem that you may have. On the way back home they x-rayed my whole car in a car wash-sized machine. Suddenly La Goulette did not seem so bad after all but north Alg is not so bad at the moment AFAIK - many many checkpoints. Next time I would try Oran.

No matter how great a time you've had you can't beat that feeling of sailing away from a north African port!

Ch
Sahara Overland ~ Trans Sahara to Mali
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  #3  
Old 7 Oct 2008
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Chris

You say you were the only non-Algerian?

This was the ferry from Marseille to Algiers??? I have seen another one from Sete (nearer home for me) to Algeria but going into Bejaia (sp?) ...

Were the cars mainly French? Are there many French cars on the road over there? Do you know the format for bringing a car into the country???

I'm seriously looking at a contract in Algiers (working for an arm of the govt.) for a few months & thinking of driving over so that I'll have my own wheels - my French insurance covers me but ...

1. Will I also need a carnet?
2. Will 9 months be too long to have a car there, without re-registering it there?
3. Is it worth taking one over? Is there as much theft there as in other African countries?

I realise you were driving through rather than taking one into the country but if you do know of any of the above it would be a great help! Any other hints appreciated!

Sorry to hijack the thread a bit!

Kira
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Old 7 Oct 2008
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You say you were the only non-Algerian?
Definitely the only touristy type/car.

This was the ferry from Marseille to Algiers???
Yes

I have seen another one from Sete (nearer home for me) to Algeria but going into Bejaia (sp?) ...
I tried to come back on that one last time for a change but they cancelled it. Less busy than Alg. Sete is a nice spot.

Were the cars mainly French? Are there many French cars on the road over there?
Mostly shagged French bangers driven by Algies.

Do you know the format for bringing a car into the country???
Its pretty simple - at least as a tourist. Longer term resident, who knows.


1. Will I also need a carnet?
No
2. Will 9 months be too long to have a car there, without re-registering it there?
Dont know - ask the embassy.
3. Is it worth taking one over? Is there as much theft there as in other African countries?
Dont know either I'm afraid. I would have thought working in Algiers they would supply you with an driver. I'd be happy not to drive a conspicuously not local car in that city. I hope they will pay you well!

Ch
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  #5  
Old 5 Oct 2009
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Any news on this crossing? I might need to actually be in Algiers before heading south, so would rather use this crossing as opposed to Tunis or anything else.

I am wondering which operators run the line, and whether there's a reliable agency that sells online and has rates posted on their web site. A couple of agencies I've come across on the web want you to fill out a multi-page questionnaire (including your car number plates) before they even give you their rates.

Any recent first-hand experience on the crossing itself appreciated too. Conditions on board, customs and immigration procedures etc.

Thanks,

Peter
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Old 5 Oct 2009
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Anyone used Marseilles-Algiers ferry?

Google Southern Ferries, they have a website with details of ferries to Algiers, they are agents for lots of ferry companies, and have a London office you can email or phone up.
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Old 24 Oct 2009
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Read this:
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...gh-alger-25359
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Old 29 Oct 2009
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This thread seemed to have resurfaced after my initial query. I did end up taking the ferry - very expensive at 1600 Euros for 4 guys and landcruiser (had to buy a return ticket) . Nowhere near full (December 2008) - very smart - lunch and dinner provided - like a real cruise. Very comfortable safe - and no tourists except our jolly selves. Seems to me Algiers has a nicer ring to it than Tunis. Enjoyed it very much - we didnt stay in Algiers and headed out en route to Ghardaia - then Djanet - Tam - Bordj - Tessalit - Festival au desert. It is better - maybe even essential - to be assisted around the Tessalit area as it is possible to lose your vehicle.....
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  #9  
Old 29 Oct 2009
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Hi Ade.hicks,

Which ferry company was it? Where did you buy the tickets? What was it like at the port in Algiers - customs, border formalities? Were you being met by a guide? Did the guide help you clearing through?

1600 euros is really expensive - I wonder if the price varies much from agent to agent.

Peter
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  #10  
Old 29 Oct 2009
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I've done this route many times over the years. The ferry company is SNCM. Southern Ferries in SW1 are the UK agent with I've used since the early 1980s. You won't find discount rates from other vendors; it's not like Morocco or Channel.
The Alg formalities are the same as Tunis: Police stamp and immig card, Customs print a temp car import permit (no carnet or search), exchange money, buy insurance, cross yourself and head out into the Algiers traffic.

It all takes a good few hours as just a few people deal with a couple hundred cars. But it is all straight forward with no funny business as I've had in Tunis. The escort will come in and help if you dont read/speak French.

I believe you can cash in an unused SNCM return for up to a year after you arrive. I've done so.

Ch
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Old 29 Oct 2009
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Thx Chris. How would you cash in your unused return ticket? Same agency where you bought it, or any other specific place? Do you actually get half the purchase cost back, or some smaller amount?

Does anyone know of an agency selling SNCM tickets in Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Germany (preferably Hamburg), Marseilles, or anywhere in between these places? Or is it a good idea to just turn up at the terminal and get the tickets there?
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Old 30 Oct 2009
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Do you actually get half the purchase cost back, or some smaller amount?


Last time it was a smaller amount - whatever they feel like. It had to go to Marseille, not the agency. I must say I have never herd of a compulsory return ticket.

You can buy it in Marseille on the day but you may not get the cabin you like.
sncm.fr will have a list of agencies I am sure.

Ch
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Old 30 Oct 2009
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Perhaps it wasn't necc to buy a return ticket (though when I queried purchasing a ticket on the phone to the ferry agent in London - the single fare was in the same ball park as the return......). Anyway, we ended up purchasing in Paris. It was in our favour to get the return ticket because it validated our intended route - a circuit in Algeria - Once there our route drasticly changed to go to Mali..........
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  #14  
Old 17 Nov 2009
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An SNCM boat, Marseilles-Algiers. Return trip, one person with vehicle (TLC), no cabin (a seat). 521 euros. Tickets booked today, travel in a couple of weeks. No refund, no change. Booked online with an SNCM agent in Germany (see the ferry line's official site for list of agents).
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  #15  
Old 30 Nov 2009
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Here's how it works. Boarding at the port of Marseilles it might be a good idea to queue up the night before, as you would be among the first to get off the boat (no guarantee, but at least with my ferry it was those who boarded first got off first). The ship I was on, MS Danielle Kazanova, an SNCM ferry, is actually very nice, except for I did not have a cabin. Never mind. Slept in my sleeping bag in the seats area with other people. I was indeed the only western tourist on the boat, at least I didn't see any other ones. Not that it bothered me much.

Looking for the entrance to the port in Marseilles took some time, as the area is under a massive reconstruction now. I even had to visit the SNCM office to ask for directions. Give yourselves time.

On the boat there was a person from an insurance company, and it took me just an hour of queuing (with not much else to do), to get my insurance - 26 euros for 30 days, for a vehicle with one driver.

There were also forms available on the boat for the border police and the customs (not all the forms, but at least a couple - the green little fiche d'entree de vehicule, the white form for the border authorities, and the personal valuables declaration form (no one ever asked for the latter).

The ferry docked, and then the madness began. All 2000 vehicles or so attempted to get out at the same time. I ended up being among the last, and that was a bad idea. I ended up waiting for 9 hours (!), before I got out. Every single car was searched. All luggage out on the floor, what's this, what's that, have you got a small whisky for me, etc. I had to fill out additional forms, at least three or four. Most of them were needed to obtain a further form, so I never kept track or copies of all those papers. I also had to drive through a scanner, whilst my bags were out on the floor being searched.

On the good side, no questions were ever asked about the guide (I didn't have one and it didn't surprise anyone). No questions at all, just it all took a very very long time. Didn't have to pay anything additionally to the insurance, and there was no obligatory currency exchange.

The problem is that you can't even snooze, because every five minutes the queue moves a bit, and if you miss the moment somebody cuts in front.

Generally, it was a good way of getting to Algeria, except the long wait. I think that was in part due to the sacrifice day which was to take place in a few days after my arrival.
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