Shipping from Cartagena, Columbia to Colon, Panama

This document was written from our experiences of shipping from Colombia to Panama. Much of this information is just as relevant to those shipping from Panama to Colombia.
The port in Cartagena, Colombia for RORO is Contecar. Seaboard uses another nearby terminal in Cartagena.
There are two ports in Colon, Panama, Cristobal and Manzanillo.
There are two shipping lines that go between Panama and Columbia and are popular amongst overlanders.
-          The first is Seaboard which requires that the vehicle be placed in a container or on a flat bed. There is one ship each week doing this route.
-          The second option is Wallenius Wilhelmsen which offer a Roll On Roll Off (RORO) service. There is a ship every two weeks.

We found that the container service was marginally cheaper than RORO but when we mentioned this to Wallenius Wilhelmsen they dropped the price and ending up being marginally cheaper than Seaboard.
The advantages in a container is that it is more secure, but with this you have the added expense and time of loading and unloading your vehicle from a container.

The advantages of RORO is that no container is required and the vehicle is simply driven on and off the ship. The disadvantage is that it is not as secure since you must leave the key with the shipping line. To use RORO you really need a way to lock up the back of your vehicle so that even with a key nobody can access the contents in the vehicle.

To ship in a container, SEABOARD is most likely the cheapest option. There is a ship each week. Contact details are available at and reproduced here.
Seaboard Cartagena
Bosque, Avenida Pedro Vélez No. 48-14
Cartagena, Colombia
Description: Description: (575) 672-2341 / (575) 672-2374 / (575) 672-2262
Description: Description: (575) 662-1719
Description: Description: Person: Ambrosio Fernandez
Description: Description:
Seaboard Panama
Sea Cargo Urb. El Dorado, Ave. Miguel Brostella
Edificio PH Camino de Cruces, Local M2, Mezzanine
Panama City
Description: Description: (507) 360-5900
Description: Description: (507) 360-5940
Description: Description: Person: Joris Deruwe
Description: Description:
You cannot deal direct with Seaboard. You must use a shipping agent. We would recommend that you use the services of Enlace Caribe. See details below.

To ship by RORO, the agent for Wallenius Wilhelmsen in Colombia is Naves.
Shipping schedules are available from There are typically two services a month.
The office for Navas, the agent for Wallenius Wilhelmsen in Colombia, GPS coordinate is “N 10 ° 24.567’, W 75° 32.291’”. Talk to either Arling or Stephanie. Both speak good English.
NAVES S.A. Cartagena, Colombia
Phone       57 5 660 9450/660 9451
Fax            57 5 660 9447/660 9454
Telex  Via U.K. 051 94078814 NAVS G
For RORO, you can do all the formalities yourself, or to save a lot of headaches and confusion we would recommend that you use Enlace Caribe. See details below.

We used Luis and Sonia La Rota of Enlace Caribe to handle all the shipping formalities. Luis speaks good English. They run a small family business, are very professional and great to deal with. They charged us US$165 to complete all formalities which we thought was good value. They have a good working relationship with both Naves and Seaboard.
The GPS coordinate of their office in Cartagena, Columbia is “N 10 ° 24.546’, W 75° 31.938’”
Enlace Caribe Ltda.
Manga, 3a. Avenida, Calle 28,  No. 26-47, Of. 103
Cartagena, Colombia
Ph +57 (5) 660 8960
Mob + 57 315 758 5872

Enlace Caribe, Naves, the port and the Getsemani area which is full of cheap hostels are all within walking distance.
There is secure parking in Getsemani on Calle del Guerrero, opposite Hotel Familiar. The GPS coordinate is “N 10 ° 25.262’, W 75° 32.743’”. They charge US$5.50 per day.

The cheapest flights we could find between Cartagena and Panama City was AIRES. We booked the flight online and paid US$193 per person (including all taxes).
To enter Panama you must be able to show a ticket leaving the country. Having a flight out of the US is not acceptable. The airline WEB site says that you need to buy a return ticket. This is not technically correct.  You can show the Airline and Panama Immigration your Shipping “Bill of Lading” which satisfies the rule of having onward passage from Panama. Make sure that the shipping company documents the name of all people travelling in the vehicle on the Bill of Lading as this will be required by the Airline and Panama immigration to show that all passengers have outward passage from Panama.

If you have any questions, additions or corrections then please let me know.

Geoff and Kienny Kingsmill