It’s about 15 years since there was a regular ferry service between Panama and Colombia but that may be about to change.
Before economic and political changes made it no longer viable, the Crucero Express used to sail regularly from Colon to Cartagena and now there is hope a service from the romantically named Panamanian Tropical Cruises will fill the void.
There has been great hope before – in 2012 the Greek-manned ‘Nissos Rodos’ ferry of the Pan American Seaways cruise line was rumoured to be starting a regular 12-hour sailing for passengers and vehicles in May which didn’t happen – and perhaps we have to wait and see if it really happens on October 24th, the date the first sailing is sceduled.
Plans are to use ‘The Adriatic’, a 540-foot cruise liner, which accommodates 1,000 passengers, 300 crew and 500 cars. Onboard amenities include three restaurants, a nightclub, a casino and duty free shop, which is a far cry from strapping your bike to the deck of random sailboat and entrusting a possibly drunk ex-pat German sea captain!
An 18-hour route will depart Panama for Cartagena from the port of Colon at 7 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, returning Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tropical Cruises is also offering a “Bocas Weekend” departing Colon on Friday for Bocas del Toro, returning Sunday.
A seat on the Cartagena-Colon route is priced at $90, and cabins are reportedly available for $190 per person. From Colon to Bocas del Toro, seats are available for $95 or cabins for $277 per person, which includes three nights onboard.
Getting around the Darien Gap has always been part of the Central American adventure, especially for riders like Helge Pedersen, but it can also be hugely frustrating. Perhaps this time, the rumours really will be based on fact.