How to reserve a spot???
All boats doing this trip is signed up to all different agencies and the price will always be the same so there is NO need to shop around. I booked mine through Sail Colombia since i then would receive a free night at a hostel in Portobello. Before booking i also looked at Blue Sailing. Both responded quickly and only reason why i went with Sail Colombia was the free night at the hostel at arrival since i didn't know when we would arrive. In the end i didn't use this night though since we arrived in the morning. This can vary though.
You pay a USD 50 in deposit to the agency, this deposit is kept by the agency, the rest you pay to the Captain.
What to think about before booking???
Departure port: There are two ports in Colombia that the boats are using. I recommend Cartagena since most likely you will already be enjoying a few good days here before departure.
Arrival port: There are a few different ports where the boats arrives in Panama. I recommend to chose a boat that gets in to Portobello, since from here you can get a bus for USD 7 to Panama City. From the other ports you need to fork out another USD 35-USD 70.
Maps on where the ports are situated can be found on above agencies web sites.
What size of boat do you want to take. Stories heard is that normally there is more party on the bigger boats compared to the smaller. I loved my experience on the smaller boat that only took 8. You could always ask the agency if they know what kind of people has booked and they can normally recommend what boat to take depending if you want party or not.
Do not book a boat that is suppose to arrive on the same day as your flight departs. Since its a sailing trip and you never know about the weather. The captain can't help if the weather is terrible and you are delayed. Some delays could be a day or so. Also make sure you can be at the departure city the day before.
Ask yourself if you can spend 5-6 days on a sailing boat with people you do not know. There is not much space, so not easy to hide. Still you can have a bit alone time sunning on the deck or in bed falling asleep.
It's a sailing boat, not a luxury cruise. You will have a tiny bed, there is a chance that you have to share a bed with someone you don't know, no real shower for 5-6 days, you eat what you given (special dietary is taken in account though).
So you still unsure if you want to book or not. Let me know tell you what is included then to see if that helps.
Whats not included???
I paid my deposit, now what???
The captain will contact you by email, this can take a few days since he might be at sea with no internet connection. My boat accepted payment with Paypal but i heard about some boats where you have to pay all in cash. If Paypal then this is when you get the info on how to pay the remainder of the money (USD 500). You will also receive an email confirming what time and where to meet the day before departure. There is always a meeting held on this day, more on that further down.
What to bring???
You have to bring all your luggage, ensure you pack what you need for the days at sea in a small bag, you are not going to see your big bag during the whole crossing. The only thing you need is:
Now to the hard part, you also need to bring your own alcohol, soft drink or snacks if you want any. Our boat had what seemed to be a never ending beer supply if you wanted to buy, tricky part is if you don't drink beer but want to enjoy a drink.
The day before departure you will meet with the captain and the group. The Captain will explain some house rules, what to expect and exact time and place of departure. You also need to hand over your passport to the captain together with proof of onward travel out from Panama to the captain. Good news is that you don't really need to buy an onward ticket out from Panama. You only need to make a reservation on for example copa air, ensure that you book the onward date within 48 hours of planned arrival. If in doubt then the captain should be able to give you more info. The captain will then arrange for all exit stamps and entry stamps required. At this meeting you will get all further information you require.
Is it worth it???
Defiantly, i had an amazing time all the way through this trip. We had so much fun both at open sea and at the San Blas Islands. A totally chilled trip with good people, no internet, great food and most of all amazing memories. I especially recommend this if you are planning to visit the San Blas Islands when in Panama since this is very costly.
I decided that it was time for a career break. So handed in my notice to the company who I worked with for the last ten years. It's time to pack my bag and depart from Amsterdam which been my home town for the last 4.5 years. -"Amsterdam, it's not you it's me and I need a break!". Read more
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