Getting In | By Sea
Combine Sea and Land Routes
Lists of Ferries and Shipping Liners that can take passengers is at bottom of this page.
This is even less crazy then you'd think. Sure Armenia is a land locked country, but ships from Italy, Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Russia and elsewhere regularly sail the Black Sea and can take you to Poti or Batumi, Georgia, where you are are only a train, bus or hired car trip away.
Fares: Typically the fares to Georgia are between $250-450 from Istanbul, Athens, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Ukraine. Trains from Batumi to Yerevan are around $35-60, buses from $35, hired cars from $100 per car load. Schedules are shaky, you will do better in high season, but it can be done, we know adventurers who have done it, and loved it.
Caution: this is still risky travel, cargo ships have cargo sailors, and Batumi is run by local mafia, considered an unsafe town to be alone in. The trains seem safe, but there are stories of buses and cars being stopped often for shake downs. It is best to travel in pairs or groups, and not to do it if this is your first trip to this part of the world unless you are with a seasoned traveler. Women travelers are advised to be extra careful, some say to not do it.
Passenger ship service from Istanbul, Greece and other Mediterranean Ports is possible year-round, but more frequent during the summer months. Those from the Ukraine or Russia are more frequent, and less pricey. All will take you to Georgia, where you can catch a train, bus or hired car for the remainder of your trip to Armenia. The most widely used route is through Tbilisi, though a hired car might be persuaded to enter Armenia north of Giumri. Expect many stops and petty bribes along the way in a hired vehicle, by bus or train less frequent.
See Shipping and Ferry Lists below for detailed information. There are regularly scheduled ships normally travel from Trabzon or Istanbul to Novorosisk, which has scheduled ferries to Poti and Batumi (year round, every other day of the month beginning on the first; less frequently during winter).
Poti or Batumi
There are two Georgian Ports to choose from: Poti or Batumi. The Port of Batumi has seen less and less shipping and ferry service in recent years, run as it is by a lcoal mafia with extrotionist aims, so development and more frequent trips will be found at Poti, which is about 80 kilomters north of Batumi. All ports have booking offices where you can find the exact schedule and buy fare. From Batumi you can take a bus or van to Giumri and Yerevan at the bus station on Gogebashvili St. (500 meters from the port; about $16 one-way to Yerevan), or a passenger train to Tbilisi, and then bus or van or taxi to the Armenian border at Bagratashen/Airum. Buses and vans regularly travel to Yerevan from here.
Poti: All services are located in the port terminal, a new building on the sea edge of town. You can catch passenger ferries from here to Novorosisk, Russia, Odessa or Ilyichevsk Ukraine, and in season, onto to Istanbul, Varna, Bulgaria, Greece and perhaps beyond. Cargo ships may take you on, but for a fee (there are no freebies anymore), and the cabin may be spartan, or shaired with crew.
Batumi: For the hardy and patient, go to the port on Gogebashvili St. and ask around for ships going to Turkey and beyond. If you're lucky, they'll let you ride on a cargo ship. Otherwise, book a ticket on a ferry to Novorosisk, and then transfer to a ship West from there. All tickets are sold on the spot, no advance booking.
Combine with Land Routes
Armenia-Batumi: For exact train schedule to Batumi, see Getting In and Out: Train. For exact bus schedule to Batumi, see Getting In and Out: Bus. The bus from Yerevan takes about 17 hours, and arrives in Batumi around midnight. Batumi is not a safe place to spend the night walking the streets or hanging out at the port. Taxis and vans at the bus station can take you to the Intourist Hotel on Rustaveli St., by the stadium. It is about 700 meters from the bus station. Intourist is basic, but considered safe (should cost no more than $20). The Hotel is 200 meters from the port.
For current timetables consult the ABC Passenger Shipping Guide at tour agencies specializing in cruises and in reference libraries.
Ferry - Shipping Liners: Most Used (Turkey, Ukraine, Greece)
European Ports - Liner Services - Mediterranean (incl Black Sea)
Australian - Brisbanne Port - Liner Services Black Sea