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Pan American Seaways' Nissos Rodos operates scheduled ferry service between Colón and Cartagena, Colombia. The ship departs the Colón2000 port Monday, Thursday, and Saturday, and Cartagena each Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday. All departure times are 6 pm and the trip takes 12 hours. The ship carries up to 1,500 passengers and 500 motor vehicles. One-way tickets are $99 for seats, $209 for dorm-style sleepers, and $429 for private cabins.
Pan American Seaways (507/209-2000. www.panaferry.com.)
Private sailing boats operate between Cartagena in Colombia and Guna Yala or Portobelo on Panama's Caribbean coast. The few operators cater mainly to backpackers and sometimes expect passengers to help with cooking, cleaning, or sailing. Zuly's Backpackers and Mamallena, two hostels in Panama City, have ties with reputable sailboat captains and act as booking intermediaries. The trip can take up to five days (you stop at islands in San Blas). Costs start at $385, including all food.
Within Panama, boats are the only way to get between points in the islands of Guna Yala and Bocas del Toro and much of the Darién. There are regular, inexpensive water-taxi services connecting the city of Almirante with Bocas del Toro. In the Darién, water taxis run between Puerto Quimba and La Palma.
Mamallena (507/6676–6163. www.mamallena.com.)
Zuly's Backpackers (507/269–2665. www.zulysbackpackers.com.)