Ferry will set sail in October

A new attempt to unite Panama and Colombia through a sea route is in the works for October, and its organizers say that this time the project is steaming full speed ahead. 

The ferry connecting the province of Colón with the Colombian city of Cartagena will start operations on October 24th, but this time the voyage includes a new attraction: a trip to the island of Bocas del Toro.

The ship will pull out of port of Colón 2000 on Mondays and Wednesdays bound for Colombia, to return to Panama on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Fridays it will depart for Colón Island in Bocas del Toro.

Augusto Terracina, director of Ferry Xpress, the Panamanian company behind this project, clarified that, unlike two years ago when they tried to launch a similar product, the tour operator now has a signed contract with the owners of the ship Adriatic, which has capacity to transport 1,320 thousand passengers and 500 vehicles.

"In 2012 the project was in conjunction with an intermediary who had a lease with the Italian company Snav, and due to financial issues between them the boat was unable to be brought to Panama," Terracina explained.

The ship has 379 cabins and 300 chairs similar to first-class airline seats.

The Adriatic is scheduled to arrive in the port of Colón 2000 on October 23rd, leave for Bocas del Toro on the night of Friday the 24th, and then return to Colón on Monday.

The voyage to Colón Island will take 12 hours. The most economic cabin for 4 people costs $276 per person, which includes three days aboard the vessel; whereas the chairs are priced at $75 for each leg of the trip.

While the current port terminal is under construction for expansion, passengers who wish to travel to Colón Island will be transferred in tenders (boats). Hotels in the area will remain open.

Unlike a cruise, on a ferry the meals and drinks are not included in the fare, and Terracina notes that this system allows them to offer the cheapest tickets possible.

The vessel, which currently covers the Italy-Croatia route, is equipped with three restaurants (buffet, a la carte, and sport bar), for passengers to select the dining option within their price range.

The 18-hour voyage to Cartagena will finally connect the north and south of the American continent, after 15 years of separation.

The price per person for one way of the trip is $115 in a four-passenger cabin, $99 in a chair, or $320 in a two-person cabin.

Terracina pointed out that passengers who decide to travel on the chairs will also have access to private bathrooms and changing rooms.

The businessman added that it is important to search for new ways to bring tourists to the country, especially now that hotel occupancy levels are at their lowest in the past five years.

In addition to 500 vehicles, the vessel will also be able to transport merchandise, which will increase trade between Panama and Colombia and supply products at more affordable prices to Colón Island, where its distance from the province of Panama makes the cost of living generally higher.

Regarding customs procedures, Ferry Xpress representatives will meet in early September with Colombian authorities to wrap up loose ends.

For passengers who will be traveling with their vehicles, the Panamanian and Colombian authorities also seek to streamline the process for their driver's licenses to be accepted in both countries.

TOURIST ATTRACTION

164

meters long and 27.6 wide are the dimensions of the Adriatic.

50,000

passengers a year the company projects to transport to Colón Island.

129,000

Colombian tourists visited between January and June.

Source: prensa.com