Being an island, it come as no surprise to you I am sure Sicily is very accessible by boat. The good news is also that various forms of water transport can be used to the islands and to and from a number of locations. Below are the main options (this is updated regularly so check back for the latest news).
The ports of Messina and Calabria provide connections between the mainland of Italy. In Calabria, the area of Villa San Giovanni on the mainland connects directly by ferry with Messina which is based in Sicily on the north eastern tip of the island (basically approximately 1 hour North of Catania). The ferry is used by the train service also and for this reason you will find that the ferry takes time to load). This is an ideal route is you need to transport a car across. If you do not have a car, the fastest way to go is by hydrofoil from Reggio Calabria.
You can also catch a ferry to and from Sicily to many othert part sof Italiy and competing ferry and cruise companies offer choices.
The main ferry operators are as follows:
Ustica Lines offer connections to various parts if the island and these are:
From these locations in Sicily, Ustica can transport you to the Aelion Islands, Napoli and to some small islands. Further information and bookings: Visit www.usticalines.it.
Another choice if you are connecting between Sicily and other locations by boat is to check the prices and timetables with GNV. (See their full schedules via www.gnv.it). Their routes are as follows:
From Termini (North Eastean seaboard of Sicily) to:
Tirrenia are another company always worth checking and their routes include:
Schedules and the latest news and sailings can be found on their official site via: www.tirrenia.it.
You might well wish to combine a trip to Sicily with the chance to visit the beautiful islands of Malta. Although not a part of Italy, I would still recommend a visit to Malta if you have the opportunity. You can book tickets via: www.virtuferries.com.
Grimaldfi lines only connect between Palermo and Salerno, but this can certainly be an extremely useful route if Salerno (near Naples) is your destination.
Boats go between Messina (Sicily) and Salerno (Amalfi Coast). Book via www.carontetourist.it.
Several cruise lines now include the island as part of their travel itiniery including cruises with Cunard, P&O and Royal Caribbean.