It was a challenge for us to get everything in order for the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlán. It is not like in Denmark. This post will take you step by step from booking the tickets to arrival in Mazatlán. We hope than this will help you when you have to take the ferry.
The easiest thing was to decide when we would take the ferry. It departs Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I picked Saturday the 8 of April 2017, departure from La Paz at 8.00 pm (20:00) and arriving next morning at 11:00 am in Mazatlán.
1. Booking the tickets
I could not get the website of Baja Ferries to work, and maybe it is because my Spanish is really bad. To fix this problem I asked Google. I found a website called www.directferries.com. Through their website I booked and paid for our tickets. You have to book and pay per vehicle, which meant that I first made a reservation for me and my motorcycle and after that I had to make separate one for Esben and his motorcycle. It is really important that all the information is correct, especially the license pate. It is possible to book a cabin on the ferry for additional 350-400 pesos per person, which we didn’t.
48 hours later I received a confirmation from Direct Ferries by e-mail. In the confirmation email was a reference number for Direct Ferries and a reference number for the Baja Ferries. I made a print out of both. You only need the reference number for the Baja Ferries. When you and your vehicle is out of country (not Mexican), you have to be at the ferry 180 minutes (3 hours) before departure.
“About Direct Ferries: Direct Ferries is a multi-platform impartial ferry ticketing service offering a quick and easy way to look, compare and book 1000’s of scheduled ferry crossings to virtually any ferry port in Europe with services also available throughout Africa, Asia, Australia, North America and South America.
Founded in 1999, Direct Ferries offers the most comprehensive portfolio in the ferry transportation sector and a range of ancillary products from carefully selected partners including accommodation, train tickets and vehicle breakdown cover.
A global company with offices across the World, Direct Ferries is present in numerous markets with a product localized for ferry travelers in the US, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China.”
2. Get to the ferry 3 hours before departure, have your TVIP with you.
We where at the ferry terminal 3½ hours before departure. We went through the gate and there was two Police check points, one to the left and one to the right. A nice policeman told us, that if we were going to Mazatlán, we had to go through the check point to the right. We drove to the check point, where a policeman checked that the VIN number on the motorcycle matched the VIN number on the Temporary Vehicle Import Permit (TVIP). If you haven’t already purchased a TVIP, you have to buy one at a Banjercito in La Paz. The Banjercito’s are usually closed on weekends. You have to have a TVIP by law, when you got to the mainland of Mexico.
Our booking and reservation for the tickets had written on them, that we had to be at the ferry terminal 3 hours before departure. We recommend that you get there 2-3 hours before, which should give you enough time.
3. Getting the tickets, remember reference number, passport and license pate number of your vehicle
After you have passed the Police check point, you will find a small booth, which has Baja Ferries written on it. Park the motorcycle and get in line. Show the lady in the booth you Baja Ferry reference number, passport and the number of your license pate. The nice lady will make your ticket and give you a designated seat on the ferry. Keep the ticket where it is easy for you to show it to the ferry staff. There are two ferries the Baja Star and the California Star, remember which one you have to catch. The nice lady barley spoke English, so we had to use the translator on our cellphone.
4. Weigh in for the motorcycles
There was a big line of trucks going on a scale, after asking around a did find a staff member, who spoke English. She told me that they had to weight the motorcycles.
The scale was not accrued at all, and they wrote down the same weight for both my and Esben’s motorcycle including the rider. We know that Esben’s motorcycle including the rider is probably 70-80 kilos heavier than my motorcycle including me. We don’t think it mattered, we both had to pay 88 pesos in some kind of harbor administration fee.
5. Find the line up lanes for the ferry
After the weight in of the motorcycles, we had to find the line up lanes to get onboard on the ferry. There was no signs at all, that could lead us in the right direction. We had to catch the Baja Star ferry and after asking around three times, we found out that we had to make a 180 degree turn and park in the middle lane to the left of the ferry terminal for walking passengers.
Now the only thing we could do was to wait. It was warm – so keep plenty of water with you, because you don’t know for how long you have to wait in the sun. It turned out that trucks and cars had to go onboard before the motorcycles, so we spend 45-60 minutes just waiting until it were our turn to drive onboard the ferry. Finally after the staff member had checked the ticket and the license pate, we were allow the drive on board, still an hour before departure. PS: there is toilets in the building on your right when waiting in line.
6. Parking you motorcycles on the ferry – bring your own tie downs
Our parking spot for the motorcycles was in the walking lane. There was no tie downs, where we were parked, but I manage to find two tie downs hanging in a different place on the ferry. Bring you own tie downs, because you can not be sure that there will be any available.
During the ferry crossing it is not possible for you to access your vehicle. First we rearranges some of our belongings in the luggage, when we packed to motorcycles in the morning. It made it easier for us the bring the most important stuff with us to the seating area. We didn’t have a cabin, so we took: sleeping bags, sleeping mattresses, pillows, water, food, extra clothes and toiletries. Before you are allowed to leave the car deck, a staff member will check your ticket and a write a letter, which marks the staircase you have to take. Our staircase was C.
7. Find your seat – ask in the information
There are several seating areas on the ferry, which is called lounge XX, depending on your seat number. The only problem is that, it is not written which seats are in which lounges, so you have to go through the lounges on till you find the right one. We chose to ask at the information, and a nice lady showed us our seats. We took the ferry just as the Easter Holliday started, there was a lot of people on the ferry, but it was not completely full. If you want a cabin, we would recommend that you book in advance with your ticket.
8. Dinner is included in your ticket – dinner is served before departure
We went for a walk on the ferry… walked outside, found the restrooms, the snack bar and the cafeteria. We must have been looking very confused… because another passenger came and asked us it there was anything he could help with. He told us that the dinner was included in the ticket, and we just had to stand in line. It does not say on you ticket that dinner in included but it is. You take a tray and they will ask you what kind of food you would like. During the serving the food will change, so if you don’t like what is being serve at this moment you can just wait until they bring in more food. But you have to choose between what is been serve when you go through the line.
The dinner is served before departure, so go to the cafeteria after you have found your seats. Remember not to leave anything of value (of cause). We left our smelling motorcycle gear including the boots, and a few bags.
This was the result: fish with refried beans and something I think was mashed potatoes (but tasted of cheese) served with tortilla on the side and a jelly for dessert. It is not the most colorful meal, expect from the jelly which later was available in green.
9. Sleeping on the ferry – bring earplugs!
There was three seats in our row, and a Mexican sat the seat against the isle. There was plenty of room for the legs and they played movies on a big television in Spanish but with English subtitles. After one movie I found a spot near a wall were I could lay on my sleeping mattress and there was room for Esben on the floor in front and under our seats. Bring earplugs because there is a lot of noise from the ferry’s engine (and the movies in TV).
10. Morning on the ferry – bring your own breakfast
There were no announcements over the speakers during the ferry trip, except from a missing child. I woke up at 7 am but if you can sleep in until 8 am do that. In the morning there was a new movie playing on the television and we just sad in our seats and had breakfast. You can buy a very simple breakfast and coffee on the ferry – the price is reasonable, but we recommend that you just bring your own.
11. Arriving in Mazatlán
The ferry was in Mazatlán at 9:00 am, so we though that the ferry was ahead for schedule, but don’t worry. Just stay in you seat and watch the rest of the movie. Pack your belongings and head for the staircase which has the same letter that is written on your ticket. After doing that we waited for an about 45 minutes at the top of staircase C. Have your ticket ready because the staff member will check if you are going down the right staircase to your vehicle. Finally they let us go down to the car deck, at this point the clock was 10:15-10:30 am. No rush getting of the ferry… everything takes more time in Mexico. We packed everything on the motorcycles,put on our motorcycle gear and headed towards the exit.
We got of the ferry and had to go through another Police check point, which we just passed by at slow speed. At 10:40 we had left the ferry and were heading into Mazatlán.