• mamallena

    (SENT TO US VIA EMAIL FROM A RECENT PASSENGER)
    1. Overall the boat was quite good. Food was better than expected.
    Felt safe at all times. Captain was helpful and informative, even if
    he’s a bit of a character.
    2. It was a bit concerning that, with a day left at sea, we ran out
    of fresh water for the bathrooms. There was still water available for
    cooking, but still.
    3. The boat was rather cramped with 13
    passengers. It just barely worked, and that’s with some people sleeping
    on the deck each night. I would strongly recommend against someone
    selecting this boat if there are more than 12 or 13 passengers.

  • Jo

    Had a great time on Jacqueline! I was quite nervous before because I don’t like open seas, but I felt completely safe the whole trip. Fritz is a character, but a nice one! The catamaran is big enough, we were with 13 people and there was space in the front or the back if you wanted to have some quiet time. But having good company is definitely important when you’re with that many people. We were advised to bring snacks, but with three excellent meals a day we hardly needed them. There is plenty of fresh fruit as well.
    I would definitely recommend traveling with Fritz! Enjoy! 🙂

  • Sebastian

    I can also highly recommend the trip on this very nice boat. Food was outstanding and obviously of great quality. Well, the captain was a chef and restaurant owner in Viena for 30 years so the meals where all delicious 🙂

    I don´t know anything about sailing, but I felt completely safe due to the competence and experience of Fritz the captain and his “co-captains” José and Thylai (? :)). They are also very helpful when you have questions about anything. Fritz speaks english, spanish and french and Thylai even Turkish!

    Organization of the journey to and from the boat where well organized and you really didn´t have to worry about anything.

    About the trip, islands, landscapes etc. I don´t have to write anything! When you have the chance to do this trip just discover the beauty and magic of the San Blas islands yourself. Simply amazing…

  • Hugo

    I recently completed a trip on this boat from Panama to Colombia and thought I should leave some feedback as while some aspects of the trip were very good, others were not and were not how they had been described when the trip was sold to us.

    We booked a trip from the San Blas to Cartagena on the 30th December 2012, which was described as a special 6 day trip along the coast and was relatively expensive at $650 or $750 if you wanted a private cabin. This seemed like a good option as the seas are rough at this time of year and we were told that this would avoid the need to do the normal open sea crossing by following the coast round.

    Transfers

    As the boat was leaving from El Porvenir, we needed to arrange 4WD transfers from Panama city. These are relatively expensive at $45 per person, plus local taxes, so it was not really good enough that there were not enough seats in them for the number of people travelling – made for an uncomfortable start to the trip. This was compounded by them delivering us to the wrong place, instead of arriving at El Porvenir we were dropped at Carti as some of the people in the jeeps were just doing a day trip to the islands. So after hanging around for a while we eventually worked out that we would have to hire a launch to take us to the Jacqueline, at additional cost – not great really, but at that point we didn’t have much choice as we were already running late.

    The boat

    There is a lot that is good about the Jacqueline – she is a large catamaran so there is plenty of deck space at the front, plus trampolines and a large cockpit at the back which is sheltered from the wind and sun. We had a private double cabin which comfortable and spacious with two hatches in the roof for fresh air. The boat was equipped with escape rafts, life jackets and a dan buoy for man-overboard situations and we were given a safety drill at the start of the trip (basically, don’t fall overboard as you have a 20% chance of survival statistically). Fresh water was available for showers (90 seconds per person per day – enough to rinse the salt off).

    However, those without private cabins did not get such a good deal. Either they were sleeping in the galley area which was hot and had no privacy, or on bunks in one of the hulls some of which had no fresh air and were pretty mildewy. Bilge water was visible under through the floorboards in our cabin, which I am pretty sure is not normal in a sailing boat. We were right next to the engine room also which was fine if a little noisy until the engine broke down, filling the cabin with a strong smell of diesel. We were at sea at the time so couldn’t open the hatches to air the cabin, making it pretty unpleasant.

    The food & drink

    Food was plentiful and pretty tasty, although not what we were expecting. It tended to be heavy European style meat stews with rice or pasta – very well cooked but not really ideal when it is 35C. We were expecting lots of fresh fish and seafood and had heard great things about the lobster in the San Blas which we were really looking forward to. We asked Fritz when we first arrived on board if we could get some and he assured us that we could, but it never materialised. Hugely disappointing.

    The trip

    Days 1 and 2 were spent in the San Blas – we visited one of the Kuna islands and spent a morning snorkeling in the coral (lots of snorkel gear available on the boat). Day 3 we went back to El Porvenir to pick up two motorbikes – this took all morning and was pretty annoying as it was the first really sunny day and we were stuck on the boat unable to swim as the sea there is not clean. We then spent most of the afternoon sailing, arriving late afternoon in time for a quick swim (the reef was too far away for snorkelling). Day 4 we set off after breakfast to do the crossing to Colombia. Yes, the standard direct sea crossing, not a trip along the coast at all! The crossing is pretty full on at this time of year – we were apparently very lucky with the weather, which meant that there were 4m waves, but they weren’t breaking over the boat… Needless to say, this can make you pretty queasy, even with anti motion-sickness tablets. All the same, this was probably the best part of the trip – we didn’t see another boat or light for 24 hours, out in the middle of the ocean with nothing on the horizon in all directions… Amazing stars at night, occasional dolphin escorts… Day 5 we saw land at about lunch time and arrived at Islas Rosario in Colombia mid afternoon – amazing crystal clear water here and great coral, would have loved to spend a full day snorkelling here. But, day 6 we set off at dawn for Cartagena and by 9am we were ashore. That to me is a 5 day 5 night trip, not a 6 day trip. Most of the passengers felt pretty cheated by this.

    The bottom line

    Overall this is not a bad trip – we felt safe at all times and were given plenty to eat and drink (in fact we had far too much to drink due to over-zealous rum purchasing by some of the Aussies on the trip!). However, it fell short of being a great trip due to 2 main factors: too many people on board and poor information. There were 16 passengers plus 5 crew (Fritz’s sister in law and her boyfriend were on board as well as Tulay and Jose who make up the usual crew) which is about 5 people too many for the amount of space available. Keeping control of a boat full of 16 passengers and lots of rum is no picnic, but reducing the number of people and limiting the alcohol would have made this easier. Fritz was also vague at all times about what we would be doing when. Obviously sailing is very dependent on what the weather is doing, but nevertheless if you are paying a lot of money for a cruise in the San Blas you expect to be treated as a priority and have enough time to properly enjoy time in the islands. Unfortunately, Fritz gave us the impression we were a necessary inconvenience rather than welcome guests – he is doing it very much for the money and not because he enjoys it.