How To Get From Nueibaa to Aqaba
AKA “Our Adventure That’s Still Not As Bad As Going Dehradun – Varanasi In The Winter”. Mostly posted as a PSA since it’s an Egypt-Jordan constantly-vague thing, so we wanted to share our experience!
Whether it’s called Noweiba, Nueiba, Nueibaa, or anything else depending on the paperwork – the process isn’t particularly complicated; it’s more an exercise in time consumption and ‘hurry up and wait’. When we travelled (25 June 2013), only the slow ferry was running – we weren’t able to figure out if it was only today, during this summer season, or for any other reasons. We were not able to reach the AB Maritime offices in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Nueibaa, or Cairo via the phone numbers listed on the AB Maritime site, so your guess is as good as ours.
We arrived around 10:10am from Dahab via minibus, arranged through our hotel (LE50/person). It dropped us off right at the ticket booth for AB Maritime; we were armed with Egyptian pounds, but were told we had to convert our pounds to US dollars – $75/person (which, on the tickets, showed as $65 – processing and other fees, maybe, ate the other $10?). We were travelling with a pair of Australians we met on the minibus, so were a fairly Caucasoid group; we ran into some Asian tourists who were told they could pay in Egyptian pounds, but the cost they were quoted was more than we were for USD. There is a Banque Misr and an Egyptian National Bank within ~3 minutes walk.
Once you decide to head into the ferry terminal area (which we suggest delaying as long as possible – amenities are sparse!), follow the sign for departure terminal/mosque. You’ll go through a bench-lined pavilion outside, and hang a left. You must go into the first building on your left to get your exit stamp in your passport. This is critical: we watched people who didn’t have the exit stamp get sent back to the desk while they waited in queue on the ferry itself. Inside the departure terminal, there are weak ceiling fans, and walls of AC units… not a single of which was on in the lovely mid-30s C temps. It was cooler outside in the breeze than sitting inside!
The ferry was departing, allegedly, at 2pm. We were advised it was closer to 3:00pm, so the four of us watched for signs of movement (there’s very little English signage in the terminal). We followed a large swath of people, mostly families/couples, and were gestured to head out to the boat shortly before 3pm. From here, passports were checked for the exit stamp 3 times: once when you left the departure lounge, once when waiting in line for boarding on the ferry, and again at the top of the stairs to the rows of seats. Our tickets were only collected at that last point, so you can safely secrete them somewhere until needed.
In order to board, groups are divided by sex – men on the left, women on the right – and the women are sent up first. As obvious tourists, we were pulled out and told where to toss our backpacks, and then inserted into the queue closer than we’d been before. We were allowed to travel as a group (2 men, 2 women) and shunted upstairs and to seats. The ferry ride itself was uneventful, and we were ‘collected’ around the disembarkation time for more of that preferential treatment – this time, put into the care of a Tourist Police official who got all our paperwork done for us.
Turns out if you come in through Aqaba, you don’t have to pay for an entry visa. Which is great, since we’d not been able to change JOD in Egypt, and the ATMs in the port were closed at our arrival time of 11pm!