Monday, November 19, 2018

Direct ferry between Tenerife and Valle Gran Rey

The Alcantara 2 in the port of Valle Gran Rey 
For some time now the ferry company Naviera Armas has covered the route between Los Cristianos on Tenerife and Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera. Different vessels were used and some days stopovers and even a change to another of their ferries in San Sebastian de La Gomera were involved making the the whole journey a bit cumbersome at times.

Presently the company offers a twice daily direct connection between the two ports in both directions with the fast catamaran ferry 'Alcantara 2'. The service is bookable with Canarian ferry operator Naviera Armas (see the Travel, etc., page of this blog), even though this ferry still sails in the colours of the ferry company Trasmediterranea. The explanation for this is that Naviera Armas bought 92,71% of Trasmediterranea which was owned by yet another company, Acciona. This € 260 million deal, which had to pass Spanish and European competition legislation, makes Armas now the largest passenger and freight ferry operator in Spain.

The Alcantara 2 previously served the connection to El Hierro island in 2013, that time chartered by Armas. The 240 ft vessel was built in Freemantle, Australia in 1995 with a top speed of 32 knots. It can accommodate over 500 passengers and 120 vehicles while offering the usual services such as a bar/cafeteria, a shop and a children's play area.

The journey between Los Cristianos and Valle Gran Rey according to the ferry schedule should only take an hour and a half, but that seems a bit over-optimistic as most of the sailings have taken about two hours. Please note that ALL ferry companies seem unable to achieve their ETA (estimated time of arrival) - the sailings usually take a fair bit longer.
Anyway, the service is most welcome and avoids the long haul by bus or car across the mountains and the whole island of La Gomera. The hope is that more delivery trucks will use this service instead of driving through the national park.
When you're planning your trip to the south-west of La Gomera, please note that the Naviera Armas schedule is only available 1-2 weeks ahead of the sailing and even if it hasn't changed much in recent weeks, this makes it difficult to plan ahead. However, there's no shortage of places on this service and it can be booked prior to sailing in Armas' port terminal offices where English is spoken.
UPDATE 23-11-18:
The above ferry service is now bookable well in advance, presently until the 10th of February 2019. As it is 'Black Friday' today, there's a 50% discount available on all bookings with Naviera Armas until a minute before midnight Sunday 25th of Nov. 2018. To avail of this discount you must tick-click the second box under the acceptance of their terms and conditions, which states in Spanish only that you wish to avail of their 'promocion Black Friday'. It is easily overlooked and the booking will proceed at the regular price if you don't tick the second box, but that extra click just gave me 50% off the fare for two.
+UPDATE Dec. 15th 2018: A faster vessel will operate this ferry route from today. Read more...

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