2007 UPDATE: The ferry has returned in 2007. See the 2007 dates, schedule and prices.
I thought this ferry service would never begin. I hope I have the opportunity to take it at some stage this summer. I wonder if I can receive a Syrian visa upon arrival like I can at the land border.
The impact, if any, this ferry will have on Mersin will be interesting for sure. Arabs are already the main tourists here.
In my 6 trips to Syria I never went to Latakia (alternative spelling: Lattakia, in Turkish: Lazkiye), one of Syria’s two main ports (Tartous being the other).
Mersin-Latakia sea line launched
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
A new maritime route between two important Turkish and Syrian ports is expected to stimulate tourism and trade relations. The ferry will make the three-and-a-half-hour trip twice a week.
MERSIN – TDN/Referans
The first seabus departed Mersin port on Monday, launching the Mersin-Latakia ferry and reinvorating tourism and trade between Turkey and Syria.
Speaking at the inauguration Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MTSO) Chairman Kadri Şaman said they had been working on this project for two years. “With the leadership of the MTSO and the Chamber of Shipping [DTO], a maritime company named Merlat Denizcilik was formed with the participation of 40 corporations and various individuals. We overcame difficulties hand in hand. This maritime line will contribute considerably to the tourism sectors of both countries,” he said.
The seabus will run twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.
“If we have as successful a turnout as we expect, then we will increase the number of trips. This initiative can also be developed further to include other Middle Eastern countries that have coasts on the eastern Mediterranean,” Şaman said.
The new line would enable the city to develop tourism, Mersin Governor Hüseyin Aksoy said. “This link to our neighboring country Syria is important in terms of the expansion of Mersin tourism. This line will not only contribute to the tourism dimension but also to trade, economy and culture. What lies ahead is a process starting with tourism and developing into many other areas,” the governor said.
Mersin Mayor Macit Özcan said they were always in favor of developing relations with Arab countries. He added that there was a standoff in the relations between Turkey and Syria. “We will overcome the standoff with these kinds of initiatives to eventually get rid of it totally. The two countries need each other,” he claimed.
The first Mersin-Latakia seabus took off from Mersin with 210 passengers on board and arrived at Latakia after a three-and-a-half-hour trip.
PRICES: the ferry costs $48 one way and $96 return. With these prices it is cheaper but more hassle to cross to Syria overland via Antakya.
SCHEDULE: The ferry runs Mondays and Thursdays, departing Mersin at 9 AM and returning from Latakia at 2 PM.