This page is an overview of ferry services in the Red Sea. It gives only basic information, see each ferry port or country's "Get in by boat" section for more on times, fares, and other practicalities - especially visas. The Red Sea is a long thin ribbon, so crossing times are short and fares are low; the biggest problem is getting reliable information on whether tomorrow's ferry is actually sailing. During the 21st century some ferries have been suspended for years on end.
There are three main customers for the ferries: tourists, trucks, and pilgrims. The narrow north end of the Red Sea is the best developed for tourist ferries, which may be fast hydrofoils for foot passengers only. These ply between Jordan and Egypt bypassing the 7 km coastline of Israel. Slower ferries carry coaches and trucks, and some pilgrims cross to Aqaba then head south into Saudi Arabia. Ferries on the longer crossings further south may only sail during the Hajj pilgrimage season and are then horribly (indeed dangerously) congested. There has also been ferry traffic from migrant workers going to and from jobs in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, but this labour market has closed down, hence fewer ferries.
- 1 Aqaba is Jordan's port on the Red Sea, with ferries to Nuweiba and Taba Heights. The port is 5 km south of the city, with no ticket facilities, so you need to sort this downtown.
- Eilat in Israel next to Aqaba has no ferries or other passenger ship routes.
- 2 Nuweiba in Egypt has ferries to Aqaba; they also sail from nearby Taba Heights.
- 3 Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt has ferries to Hurghada.
- 4 Hurghada in Egypt has ferries to Sharm el-Sheikh.
- 5 Safaga in Egypt has ferries to Duba and Yanbu.
- 6 Duba in Saudi Arabia has ferries to Safaga; the pier is 20 km north of Duba town.
- 7 Yanbu in Saudi Arabia has ferries to Safaga.
- Ferries between Port Sudan and nearby Suakin in Sudan, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and Suez in Egypt, are suspended.
- Arab Bridge Maritime (usually abbreviated to "ABMaritime") run all the ferries in the north Red Sea. These include:
- - Aqaba-Nuweiba, daily, 3 hours, vehicles carried. You can get an Egyptian visa by this route.
- - Aqaba-Taba Heights, 3 or 4 a week, one hour, foot passengers only. You can't get an Egyptian visa on this route, but Jordanian visas can be obtained at Aqaba on both routes.
- - Hurghada-Sharm el-Sheikh, 2 or 3 a week, two hours, foot passengers only. You can't get an Egyptian visa on this route, but travelling from Hurghada to Sharm doesn't terminate a single-entry visa.
- Namma Shipping[dead link] run the ferries further south in the Red Sea and their website is in English.
- - In 2020 these are all suspended.
Make sure you are watching your belongings at all times. There are a few hundred people waiting to catch the same ferry as you.
Also, women (and men) should be mindful of dressing appropriately for the local population. .
- Aqaba is the way to reach Wadi Rum and fabulous Petra. The border with Saudi Arabia is only 10 km south of the city, but then it's a very long drive to Medina and Mecca.
- Jerusalem and the Dead Sea can be reached via Jordan, but it's simpler to cross the Taba-Eilat-Aqaba land borders into Israel.
- Nuweiba and Taba have beaches and water sports, but Dahab and Sharm el-Sheikh further south are much better developed.
- Cairo can be reached by daily buses from Nuweiba, Taba, Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada.
- Hurghada is a big beach resort, from where you can travel inland to Luxor and Aswan.