I was worried about the ferry crossing from Italy (Bari) to Albania (Durres) because despite finding countless reviews online, it seemed that regardless of ferry line, all of them were bad and no one said why. Was it dangerous? Were these notoriously rough waters? What was the problem? I didn’t see a strong alternative to getting there since we were with an owned vehicle, so picked GNV and went with the mindset that it would be one night of our lives.
And??? It was fine!
So what do you need to know? You are asked to arrive at least four hours in advance due to customs (leaving the EU), so we did, and found the ferry terminal to be well signed, with many helpful employees pointing us in the right direction as we went. Immigration was smooth and relatively quick, and then we queued near the ferry and waited to board (of the four hours in advance, I would guess it only took 20 minutes to get from the entrance of the terminal to the queue). You are welcome to walk on leaving one traveller in the car so that everyone else can enjoy the ferry and its amenities but we couldn’t figure out what was easier (waiting with the kids in the car or one of us taking both kids and the overnight bag and trying to entertain them on the ship) so because they were in good spirits we just hung out in and around the car, having snacks, watching the ferry prepare to leave etc.
Because I was anxious and we had a two year old and a four-month old with us, I booked a private room. I basically went on the website and scrolled down until I got to a room with a door on it and a private bathroom. It was insanely clean and had two bunkbeds, a three piece bathroom, and lockers for your belongings, with towels and linens as well as shampoo and soap in the washrooms included. I did see on their website that some of their ships had queen sized beds and rooms that looked similar to a cruise ship ocean view cabin, but this was the only style I could find on this ship that was available and suitable to our needs. Other options are purchasing a deck ticket, a chair to recline in, shared bunkbed rooms by gender, or pet-friendly rooms. The crossing was over smooth waters, the staff was incredibly kind and helpful, and the common areas were well-kept and relatively modern (like any chain hotel would look).
So, what would people have a problem with? It wasn’t a timely crossing. We were scheduled to arrive at 6 am but arrived at 10 am (and also left later than scheduled) so if you had a meeting to get to that’s a huge problem but we were just going to our hotel a few kilometres away from the Durres port so that was irrelevant to us. The ferry was also rattley as all get-out. I figured it was because we were at the stern of the ship, but when I declared “I have to get a different room” and went into the hallway to talk to reception, the whole ship was rattling. Like. Crazy. All three boys slept right through it but I tossed and turned because of the noise.
I really don’t know why people are so down on the ferry crossing, so wanted to put a more thorough review out into the Internet world in case people we looking for a bright side. If you have any other questions, please do contact me, but overall, don’t hesitate to book with GNV. The good outweighs the bad and really, the bad is just nit-picky!