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Old 11-16-2014, 10:18 AM   #1
MotoIdiotas OP
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Comprehensive guide to catching Ferry Xpress - Panama to Colombia

Hi, I'm new to the site so apologies for posting something else about this ferry. Lot of animosity for there being several threads, but none of them seem to contain the relevant information. So here is everything you need to do to get on this luxury, frugal, highly incompetent and almost certainly running late ferry.


HOW TO FERRY XPRESS

1) Get a D.I.J.
2) Buy ferry ticket.
3) Get third party Colombian insurance.
4) Arrive 11 hours before departure with copies.
5) $25 departure tax from Colombia port

1. Get a DIJ

Attend the Dirección de Investigación Judicial (DIJ). It’s in Ancon, Panama. There’s three buildings with the same name opposite each other. Go to the Policia Nacional office on the outbound from the city side of the road. It’s en route to Albrook Mall. **Wear long pants and shoes or they won't do it**

You will need
- Original seguro (insurance) + copy
- Original vehicle title + copy
- Original aduana (paper they give you when you enter the country) + copy
- Original passport + copy

Once the police complete the inspection (took us an hour for them to do a 5 minute inspection and we were the only people there), they won’t give you any new paperwork and will point across the road to the other DIJ building to the right on the main road. Don’t go to the bigger building on the left down a side street.

There will likely be a queue going outside to the left when you arrive. I have no idea what that is for. Walk past these people into the building and attend the reception desk. Just say “D.I.J”. They’ll ask for the original paperwork you gave the police across the road (not the copies), give you the usual Panamanian 20 minutes to 2 hours waiting time without explanation and return with the D.I.J for you to sign.

2. Buy ferry ticket

With your D.I.J and passport in hand, go to the Ferry Xpress office in Panama City (Ciudad de Panama). It’s 10 minutes by bike following the signs to Avenida Balboa from the DIJ Policia Nacional stations. At the time of writing the small but clearly marked office doesn’t exist on Google Maps. Easiest things to put into the GPS are “Harley Davidson Panama”, which shares a back wall with Ferry Xpress or “Multicentro Mall”, which is directly across the road.

It cost us $288 per person with a motorbike and they only take cash.

3. Get third party Colombian insurance.

I have no recommendations for who to go with. But once you're on the ferry they won't let you off until you pay them $75 for insurance that lasts 30 days and you don't get any terms and conditions paperwork for it. So if you can find insurance cheaper, buy that and print it out before getting on board.

4. Arrive at 8am for your 7pm trip and prepare for a long frustrating day.

When I went there were two cars and three of us on bikes (would've been four but my buddy wasn't allowed on for a passport stamp issue). On the day of your 7pm departing ferry, arrive at 8am. Bring plenty of snacks and some entertainment as there will be a lot of sitting around.

You will need
- Original seguro (insurance) x 3 copies
- Original vehicle title x 3 copies
- Original aduana (paper they give you when you enter the country) x 3 copies
- Original passport x 3 copies
- Original ticket given by Ferry Xpress x 1 copy

You can get copies there for $0.50 per sheet.


5. $25 departure tax

As we went to ride off after passing customs, we were hit with a $25 fee to get the bikes out of the port. There was a 15 minute argument between the staff whether we should have been charged it or not, but in the end we had to pay.

The ferry left an hour late at 8pm and by the time we passed customs and left the port it was 6pm.

Timetable

Monday

Departs: Colon, Panama 7pm
Arrives: Cartagena, Colombia 1pm

Tuesday
Departs: Cartagena, Colombia 7pm
Arrives: Colon, Panama 1pm

Wednesday
Departs: Colon, Panama 7pm
Arrives: Cartagena, Colombia 1pm

Thursday
Departs: Cartagena, Colombia 7pm
Arrives: Colon, Panama 1pm

*Friday and Saturday Ferry Xpress it goes to and from Colon, Panama to Bocas Del Toro, Panama.

On board advice
• If you’re on a budget bring plenty of food (no fresh fruit and vegetables) as it's about $8 for a small plate of food on board.
• You can get hot water for 2 minute noodles from the staff in the café.
• They have WiFi at $5 for 2 hours.
• They tried to confiscate all the tools from one rider. He stood his ground and managed to keep them, so make sure you do likewise!
• The air conditioning inside is like a movie theatre, so bring your sleeping bag. You can sleep in the aisles.
• The wall inputs are European. If you need an adaptor ask at reception on the 6th floor for a converter. It's only a $2 deposit. Hot tip is to try get a seat next to a socket on the wall, they're just above head height.

Any questions happy to answer...and again sorry if this is posted in the wrong spot.
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Old 11-16-2014, 10:23 AM   #2
Unstable Rider
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Fantastic job of putting all of that together.
Someone with that trip in mind will appreciate your efforts.
Interesting heads-up on the tools.... what the heck there?

Changing a tire or adjusting a chain "just against the rules?"
"we can't have no stinking tools in the hands of civilians down here, we would have civil unrest"
(more so than we already have..... )
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Old 11-16-2014, 10:29 AM   #3
TeeVee
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yes, efforts greatly appreciated.

makes on wonder though, what will happen if, and this is a huge IF, these 3rd world countries normalize and cut out all the bullshit 18,000,000 pounds of paperwork, useless, wasted, downright stupid processes, where all the now all so important workers will go...
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Old 11-16-2014, 03:37 PM   #4
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Great synopsis; sounds like a gigantic PITA.
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Old 11-16-2014, 06:26 PM   #5
bananaman
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Old 11-17-2014, 09:32 AM   #6
crashmaster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TeeVee View Post
makes on wonder though, what will happen if, and this is a huge IF, these 3rd world countries normalize and cut out all the bullshit 18,000,000 pounds of paperwork, useless, wasted, downright stupid processes, where all the now all so important workers will go...
To bureaucrat hell hopefully. Where they will be forced to stand in long lines, to pay for a piece of paper that lets them stand in other lines, then make 4,327 copies of everything, to present to a bureaucrat after standing in another line, who tells you that you have to start the process all over again because you need a copy of a piece of paper with a stamp on it that should have been stamped and copied before you bought your first piece of paper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmex View Post
Great synopsis; sounds like a gigantic PITA.
Welcome to Central America. Did anyone actually think that getting on this ferry would not be a huge pain in the ass?
I don't think the Steel Rat boys need to worry about losing too much business to the ferry.
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crashmaster screwed with this post 11-17-2014 at 10:59 AM
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Old 11-17-2014, 10:31 AM   #7
Pilotguyo540
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Good lord!

Are there any alternatives? I would ride an extra week to avoid that pile of bullshit.
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Old 11-17-2014, 11:29 AM   #8
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Thanks for that. Hopefully it will last! But I agree with Crashmaster, some riders will continue to pay for the ease of the Stahlratte. FYI, insurance for Colombia runs about $45 (set up through Stahlratte.)

With how Panama is, expect changes because it seems like they never do it the same way twice –*consistency is not a strong suit. Still beats crating and flying. I have
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