If you’ve read my post, “Why Tunisia?” (and I know you haven’t because I’ve had zero link clicks for that one) then you already know that for the first time ever, I broke my rule of only visiting one country per trip. Instead, we agreed to visit one sea, the Mediterranean, under the condition that we had to travel by ferry. So, after spending a few days in Tunisia, we took a ferry from Tunis to Palermo, Sicily. Then, we road tripped around Sicily’s southern coast before hopping on a ferry to Malta!
Our road trip concluded in Catania, where we dropped off our Avis rental car at the port. The Avis office was not very well marked, so eventually we just went inside the closest building to ask for some direction and stumbled into both the Avis and the Virtu Ferries offices. We had booked two one way tickets from Catania to Valletta on Virtu Ferries through Direct Ferries for $292.39. So, after we returned our VW Bug, we walked across the hall, showed our Passports and ticket confirmations and received paper tickets for our journey to Malta.
The Direct Ferries ticket states that passengers must arrive at the terminal at least 60 minutes prior to departure. I, being the Paranoid Patty that I am, wanted to arrive another hour before that in case we had any problems, so even though we were scheduled to depart at 6:30 PM, we had our tickets in hand by 4:00 PM. Fortunately, in this same building, there is a common area with restrooms and plenty of seating as well as small cafe with drinks and snacks. The building does not, however, have any wifi.
The ferry actually leaves from Pozzallo, but you can purchase a ticket that includes a two hour shuttle bus from Catania. We would have preferred to drop off our rental car in Pozzallo and skip the bus, but could not find a rental car company at the Pozzallo port. Of course, when we got there, we saw that Hertz has a location right at there by the ticket counter.
The bus left right on time and transported us to the next port without a hitch. We had a brief wait in the next line while we watched our boat arrive and quickly unload its passengers. When it was empty, crew members pointed us up the stairs and aboard the ship.
We were among the first passengers to get on the ferry, so we had our choice of seats, all of which were equally appealing. There were snack bars and the front and back of the boat, where we purchased two slices of Sicilian pizza and some fizzy water. We had about thirty minutes to kill before the ferry left shore, so we took a look at the outside deck and the little casino.
Finally, we started to move as a safety video, very similar to those shown on airplanes, was broadcast on every television. Once that was repeated in three different languages, we were treated to the feature film “Johnny English Strikes Again”. The movie played with subtitles and no sound, but if you’ve ever seen Rowan Atkinson act, you know that his physical comedy needs no soundtrack.
At 11:15 PM, a mere hour and forty-five minutes later, we arrived in Valletta and were able to exit the ferry very quickly. Taxis were outside, ready to transport passengers and within fifteen minutes we were at our hotel in Sliema. Virtu Ferries was a most pleasant experience after our disaster of a night on the Grimaldi Lines ferry from Tunisia to Sicily. The whole trip, from Catania to Valletta, took four hours and forty-five minutes. If you leave directly from Pozzallo, you’ll arrive in Malta in less than two hours, making this a very easy trip!