You can supposedly reserve seats and vehicle space online for the İDO Fast Ferryboats connecting Istanbul's Yenikapı Feribot Terminalı with towns on southern shore of the Sea of Marmara: Bandırma (for İzmir trains), Bursa (Güzelyalı), Yalova (for İznik/Nicaea), and a few other ports.
Although the website is admirably designed and easy to use—with an English-language version— you are required to have a mobile phone from Austria (43), Germany (49), Greece (30), Netherlands (31), Switzerland (41), Turkey (90) or the United Kingdom (44). If you have no mobile phone, or one from some other country, you cannot buy a ticket online, as a phone number from one of those country codes is required to complete the ticket-purchase procedures.
(Does that make sense? Of course not, but so it is, at least in late 2013.)
Here's how it works (or, rather, doesn't work):
1. Go to the İDO website. If the homepage is not in English, click the UK flag button in the upper right-hand corner of the page. An "Online Ticket" display is at the top of the page. You must go through the ticket-buying procedure to see the schedules and fares. (The "Timetables" tab is only for fast ferries within Istanbul.)
2. Select "Round Trip"("Return" for my UK friends) or "One Way" (Single) to your destination. (Remember: Yenikapı = Istanbul).
—Select your date(s) of travel.
—Select "On foot" if you are not taking a car, or "Vehicle" if you are taking a car.
—Select the number of passengers (include the driver as a passenger under "Regular") for whom you want tickets.
—Then click on "Devam Et" (Continue).
3. The next screen shows departure times for voyages with places available. Select "ECONOMY prices" or "BUSINESS prices." (Tip: if Economy is full, there may still be places in Business; and sometimes business prices are not much more than Economy).
To the right of the voyage departure time is the fare in Turkish liras, and the type of fare/ticket (ECO, PROMO, ECO PLUS, BIZ, etc.) Click on the fare next to the departure date and time you want. The amount will register under "Fare Infos" in the right-hand column.
4. If you chose "Round Trip," scroll down and select your departure time/fare for your return journey. The "Fare Infos" will be updated and your total fare displayed. Click "Continue" at the bottom of the page.
5. The next screen shows your Departure and Return times, fare information, and allows you to "Choose your own seat" or "Let us select a seat for you." After you click on a seat (or seats) for your Departure, click the Return tab at the top and select seat(s) for your return, or if you click "Let us select a seat for you," the screen will refresh and show your seat selection(s) at the bottom of the screen.
You must select a seat, or "Let us..." for both parts of your voyage (Departure & Return).
After you have done so, click "Continue."
6. The next screen reviews the Journey Details of your voyage(s). Below, select "Member Login" if you have—or want—to register with İDO; or "Continue as a Guest" if you do not.
7. Fields for your personal and contact information appear below. Birth date should be input dd/mm/yyyy. For Nationality, select "Other" (unless you are a Turkish citizen [TC]). Fill in the Contact Information fields (Name & Surname, Telephone, Email), all of which are required.
Only certain country codes are allowed (30, 31, 41, 43, 44, 49, 90) for the telephone number. If your telephone number is from Brazil, Canada, China, France, Japan, Russia, USA or any of a hundred other countries, you may not be able to continue; or you can put in a false number (such as +90 000 000 0000) and see if it will allow you to continue (but any messages regarding your reservation will be sent to the fake number).
Note: At any time in the booking procedure you may be shown a screen reading:
Error Code : OK [or sometimes a number]
Please click here to go back and retry
If the error repeats, close the page and start over again.
It is possible that you will go back and do everything all over again, get the same result (the enigmatic Error Code: OK) and be unable to book your ticket(s). Too bad! You'll have to swim....
I have a Turkish mobile phone. I filled in all the required information, clicked "Continue," and nothing happened. Nothing. I tried it again, several times, and the procedure had simply stopped. No ticket for me!
8. If you are lucky enough to be able to continue to the end, you will see a Confirmation page with all of your information on it. Save or print/pdf this page! It has your confirmation/reservation reference number (PNR) on it. Without this, you will not be able to access, change or cancel your reservation or request a refund.
The system will ask you to choose to have your reservation details sent to you by SMS message to your mobile phone (which, as noted above, must be from only certain countries; others not accepted), or by email. DO NOT ASSUME THAT YOU WILL RECEIVE EITHER MESSAGE! Save or print/pdf your confirmation page so that at least you have that. You may still be able to claim your ticket(s) with it.
7. When you get to the payment pages, the system will ask for your Visa or MasterCard number, expiration date and CCV2 (security code). No other payment method is possible online.
8. I'd like to tell you the rest of the ticket-buying procedure, but I have never had it work all the way to the end so that I could get my ticket. (And I've lost money trying...)
So if you can't get your ticket(s) from the İDO website, how do you buy tickets for the ferries?
A: Go to the Yenikapı Feribot Terminalı in Istanbul and buy your tickets in person, in advance. More...
B: Ask my friends at Efendi Travel to help. More...