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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
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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
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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
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Old 11-17-2014, 09:32 AM   #6
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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
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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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Old 01-03-2015, 08:16 PM   #9
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some upgrade to your good Sheet.

I have used the ferryxpress services and what i can add is.
We were 14 bikers using this ferry.
Yes the panama police is very bureaucratic. I had the experience with a long short. But i didnt give up.

Now you can pay your ticket with your credit card in panama city ferryxpress office.

On the same day 3 bikers arrived in colon with nothing ready.
They did the police inspection in colon and bought their ticket at the ferryxpress office in colon at the port 2000.
What we did in 1.5 days, they did in less than 8hours, with maybe a very Big stress. But they did.

boarding the bikes on the ferry was done through the latéral door of the ferry. Most of the bikers had to remove one or two paniers.

When we arrived in cartagena, all the documents were ready. Colombian customs very pleasant and helpfull.
Insurance was ready and included in the ship ticket.
Of course you discover that you have the 25$ port fee to pay.
Its the same as when i travel through the us airports. You have to recover your luggage and then to register again and pay the local tax.
Conclusion. Its better to know some spanish basics and listen to the instructions, especially some american guys forget this and get angry very quickly. We are not in our country and we are not the Master of the world.
a french biker riding with a bmw 1150 gs adv from los angeles toto Ushuaia.
By now i am in ecuador.
Best regards and happy new year.
Ride safe.
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Old 01-03-2015, 09:28 PM   #10
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I appreciate the advice and will print it out to use when I get to Columbia....great stuff!
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Old 01-04-2015, 05:52 AM   #11
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Laugh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabeslaw View Post
I appreciate the advice and will print it out to use when I get to Columbia....great stuff!
Originally Posted by Gabeslaw View Post
Ya know I was tempted to blast but I calmed down and NUKED my statement. FTW......verdad payaso? Yo tambien hablo español y possible mas que tu.


You are taking the ferry to Columbia and not to Colombia ?
I rest my case , abogado
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Old 01-04-2015, 11:04 AM   #12
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So Mr. Guat your the new hater...........I appreciate what the man contributed and your upset that I gave him Kudos? Really? You should mature up and have better ethics while posting in the community. Ride your own ride dont ride mine.
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Old 01-04-2015, 06:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabeslaw View Post
So Mr. Guat your the new hater...........I appreciate what the man contributed and your upset that I gave him Kudos? Really? You should mature up and have better ethics while posting in the community. Ride your own ride dont ride mine.
If you are fluent in Spanish, why do you continue to write Columbia.

The man's name was Cristobal Colon. English speakers changed it to Christopher Columbus. Spanish speakers named a country Colombia.

Try pronouncing "columbia" in spanish. Hear the "u" sound.

Ps: the instructions so far are for Panama departure, Colombia arrival. Getting on the ferry in Colombia will require very different procedures. If you print this, and try to use it... you're a fucking moron.
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Old 01-04-2015, 06:59 PM   #14
GuateRider
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Laugh

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabeslaw View Post
So Mr. Guat your the new hater...........I appreciate what the man contributed and your upset that I gave him Kudos? Really? You should mature up and have better ethics while posting in the community. Ride your own ride dont ride mine.
Now I'm a hater because I'm showing you your lack of knowledge of the spanish language ? My mistake , it has been proven before by Javier already so there was no need for me to insist on this

Your statement about being fluent in spanish (Cubano de Miami) is crap as so many other things you're writing : Machetes , being prepared to bribe Chilean officials , using fundraising in order to be able to cross borders without problems ,...

Who are you to tell me about ethics while posting in the community : What have you done so far for this community besides spamming a lot of threads with your publicity and congratulating yourself to your post# 200 ??

Our history and our record speaks for itself

And don't you worry, I am riding my own rides as I have been doing for quiet some time .
I do not even know how I could be riding yours , you just have been talking about it for several month and you are still several month away from the supposed start .

Some of us ride and some other talk about riding; everybody does what he think he is best at .

Salud , abogado
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Old 01-09-2015, 04:55 PM   #15
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Ferry Xpress

I'm leaving next Wednesday the 14th on the Ferry Xpress from Colon.

I'll send a report of the voyage .

Kudos for a great report and wanted to add that when you arrive at the DIJ you have to report to the person in the guard shack in front before you go in to get a badge. I found out the hard way !

Saludos, Dan
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