By Anastasia Vamvaka
For more than two and a half years, the cables of dozens of small boats and tourist speedboats that connected Greece to Turkey and vice versa, through the Aegean Sea, were tied up. Since February, when the complete ban was lifted, and especially between March and April, thousands of passengers have visited the Greek islands from Turkey, boosting local economies, but not Greek shipping, as the vast majority of the companies on the line are Turkish.
There are currently at least 15 ferry companies covering Greece-Turkey ferry connections. The situation has changed drastically in recent years, when Turkey, with a clear economic plan, greatly increased port fees for Greek vessels, while implementing a zero tax policy for Turkish vessels. At the moment, for the Northeast Aegean only in Chios there is a Greek boat that runs the Chios-Turkey route.
It is characteristic that the Lesvos line is served by three companies with two conventional ferries and one catamaran, all with the Turkish flag. Accordingly, in Samos the daily connections to Kusadasi are dominated by Turkish ferries. Many small Greek companies either stopped the service, as they could not compete with the ticket prices, or sold their ships to the Turkish companies.
Some of the companies are large and operate all year round, while others are seasonal and offer local ferry services. Some of them are: Exas Shipping, Sea Dreams, Lafasi, Jalem Tur, Meander Travel, Sunrise Lines, Makri Travel and Sky Marine Ferries, Yesil Marmaris Lines, Bodrum Express Lines, Dentur Avrasya Group, Erturk Lines, Jalem Tur, Meis Ferry Lines, Samos Star, Tuana Maritime and Turyol.
Visitors to Chios, Rhodes, Samos, Kos, Lesvos, Kalymnos and Kastellorizos can visit the Turkish cities of Cesme, Marmaris, Fethiye, Bodrum, Seferihisar, Kas, Ayvali, Turgutreis and Kusadasi for a day trip.
In any case, the opening of Turkey is considered particularly important for Greek tourism as well, both for cruise activity and as a whole, since it widens the number and diversification of destinations for the long-term trips often made by visitors from Northern Europe but also the other side of the Atlantic.
Lesvos to Ayvali
The Lesvos-Aivali ferry line is served by two companies as of 2022. The connection is available 2-3 times a day and the journey from the port of Mytilini on Lesvos to Aivali takes 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. One-way tickets cost 20-25 euros.
Chios to Cesme
The Chios-Cesme ferry line is covered by three companies. In summer there are usually 5-6 daily ferry routes from Chios to Cesme. The boat trip takes just 35 minutes and tickets usually cost 20-25 euros.
Samos to Kusadasi
The connection to Kusadasi in Turkey is made from two ports of Samos: Pythagorion and Vathi. The Samos-Kusandasi ferry line is served by two companies and the journey takes 40 minutes. The connection is available 1-2 times a day and tickets cost around 40 euros.
Samos to Seferihisar
There are usually 4 weekly sailings operated by one ferry company. Tickets for the ferry cost around 35 euros and the journey takes around 2 hours.
Rhodes to Fethiye
There are at least three daily departures to Fethiye operated by three ferry companies. The average journey time is around 1.5 hours, while tickets for this line are close to 40 euros.
Rhodes to Marmaris
Ferry trips from Rhodes to Marmaris are available 2-3 times a day and are covered by two ferry companies. The ferry takes one hour to reach the Turkish port from Rhodes, with ticket prices starting at €52.
Kos to Bodrum
Ferries to Bodrum from the island of Kos are available 2-5 times daily in summer. The Kos-Bodrum ferry line is served by 5 companies and the journey time is just 30 minutes. One-way tickets start at 20 euros.
Kos to Turgutreis
The route Kos-Tourgutreis is available once a day in the summer of 2022. The line is served by two companies, the journey takes 30 minutes and tickets cost 20 euros.
Kalymnos to Turgutreis
The ferry trip from Kalymnos to Turgutreis takes 40 minutes and is available once a week. Tickets for the route cost 25 euros.
Kastellorizo to Kas
The route runs 1-2 times a day. The ferry ride takes 30 minutes and tickets cost around 25 euros in peak periods. The line is covered by two ferry companies.
Citizens of Greece can travel to Turkey by ship with only their ID, without a visa or passport. Citizens of other countries may need an e-visa, passport or other entry document. The passport must be valid for more than 60 days after the end of the last day of stay in Turkey based on the residence permit. Those traveling by ship to the Greek islands from Turkey do not need to fill out any documents or have a COVID-19 certificate. As for traveling by ship to Turkey from Greece, travelers must:- Either be fully vaccinated with a booster dose (2 or 3 doses, depending on the vaccine).
– Either they are partially vaccinated and have a negative rapid test.
– Whether they have a negative PCR test of the last 72 hours.
– In addition, visitors 6 years of age and older must complete an online Turkey Entry Form 72 hours prior to travel.