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Colón 2000 takes a gamble for a second time by introducing a ferry from that port to Cartagena, Colombia and Isla Colón in Bocas del Toro. Mayra de Zebede, sales manager of Tropical Cruises said that unlike the previous occasion, where somebody else took control of the operation, this time Ferry Xpress will be manage by the port itself.
The Norwegian ferry, Adriatico, which currently operates in Europe and is property of SNAV, an Italian company, will start the route from Colón 2000 to Cartagena on October 24. It has three restaurants, a discotheque, a duty free, 379 cabins, 300 seats, capacity for 1320 people and 500 cars.
Zebede believes that the service will be successful, because a road that unites Colombia with Panama does not exists and therefore it is a natural progression to have another way to connect the two countries other than by air.
The ferry will depart on Monday and Wednesday from Colón 2000 to Colombia to return to Panamá on Tuesday and Thursday. The trip will take approximately 18 hours and will cost $99 per person (seat), $115 per person in a cabin for four people, and a cabin for two people is $320 per person. The ship has communal bathrooms with shower facilities and lockers.
Passengers are allowed to bring two suitcases per person, with additional ones at $25 if they are using a seat. However, if they come in their car, there is no restriction on luggage.
Colón 2000 has already habilitated customs and all the other facilities that travelers will need when going to another country. The vessel will be patrolled by a joint force of the Colombian and Panamanian police to ensure passenger safety.
Additionally to transporting people, the ferry will also carry cargo, especially perishable products such as fruits, vegetables and flowers from Colombia to Panama and vice-versa. It is expected that this transport will support the Colón Free Zone users.
Zebede added that currently Ferry Xpress is working with the government as part of its master plan to transform Colón into a free port similar to Curacao.
The Adriatico will sail to Isla Colón in Bocas del Toro every Friday at 7:00 p.m. from Colón 2000 arriving to that province at 7:00 a.m. It will return to its homeport on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. arriving at 4:00 a.m. The whole traveling experience is designed to be a mini-cruise in which the passenger decides if he wants to eat or sleep in the ship or go out. The cost of the seat is $75 per person or $276 for four people in a cabin.
The ferry will also bring trucks with small, medium and large containers to Bocas del Toro, benefitting the economy of the area.
It is expected that this ferry will be very popular among backpackers who are having difficulties at the moment trying to find an inexpensive way to travel from Panama to South America.