La Paz - Mazatlán
Shipping company: TMC
Type of shipment: RoRo
Duration: 15 hours
Cost: 4797 MXN for vehicle and two passengers incl. 2 meals p.p. + 176 MXN port fees
The organization of the shipment:
The ferry to Mazatlán runs daily, except on Saturdays. We were able to reserve the tickets one day before departure at the port and then pay on the day of departure on the spot. You could also make the reservation by telephone, but we avoided this option due to a lack of knowledge of Spanish. At the port, some of the staff spoke some English.
- Arrived at the port, we first had to drive through the entrance barrier, where our passports and the Banjercito papers for the vehicle were checked. Baloo's underbody was checked with a mirror, but nobody wanted to see inside of the vehicle.
- After the entrance barrier we had to drive a little further to a weighing station where Baloo was weighed. For this we had to pay 176 MXN. We received a white note with which we could buy our tickets in the ticket office.
- In the ticket office both our passports were checked and afterwards the tickets were printed, as well as the meal vouchers for dinner and breakfast, which are included in the price, were attached. We paid the amount of 4797 MXN in cash.
- After that we were allowed to go to our ship "San Jorge" and had to wait for loading. Planned departure time was 5pm. At 3.30pm we were already on the ship, which finally left the port at 6pm.
- After a very quiet and restful night in our own vehicle, we were able to leave the ship at 09.30 the next morning.
Overnight stay in your own vehicle:
From La Paz two ferry companies offer connections to the mainland of Mexico. Beside TMC there is also the "Baja Ferries". TMC is not actually a passenger ferry, but specialises in cargo transport. However, in addition to trucks, they also take travellers who travel with their own vehicle with them. The advantage is that TMC is cheaper than Baja Ferries and you can spend the night in your own vehicle. However, the prerequisite for an overnight stay in the vehicle is that you get a place on the upper outside deck. It was recommended to us to be at the harbour at least 5 hours before departure.
In Mexico everything is a bit more chaotic:
We weren't at the port 5 hours earlier, but only 3 and got a place on the desired upper floor without any problems. The loading did not seem to proceed according to the "first come - first served" principle. The order in which the waiting vehicles were allowed to drive was rather arbitrary. However, we had the impression that they wanted to make sure that all travellers were given an outdoor place and that overnight accommodation in their own vehicle could be guaranteed. We shipped on a Monday and in our case the ferry was only 70-80% full anyway.
What caused us more difficulties was to understand how the second passenger (in our case Alexandra) had to get to the ferry. After buying our tickets we were told that we were now allowed to go to the ferry and have to wait there. When we arrived at the ferry, one of the port employees pointed out to me that only the driver was allowed to wait in the car and that I, as a second passenger, first had to go through a security check at the port entrance (in the big blue building). So I walked back to the blue building between trucks, waited there for 5 minutes with other travelling women until we were asked to go through the security check. The security check was similar to the one at the airport. We had to let our luggage through an X-ray machine (by the way, I had no luggage with me because I left it in the car) and then walk through a barrier ourselves. The uniformed military, which was responsible for the control, was neither interested in us nor in the luggage. Afterwards we were brought back to the ship by a shuttle to get out two meters beside our car and have to wait in it until we were allowed to drive up. I think nothing would have happened if I had just waited in the car from the beginning.
Equipment of the ferry:
We were allowed to move freely on the ship during the crossing, as long as there were no signs that prohibited the access. In the canteen we were allowed to eat with the crew, the other passengers and the truckers. But there was not enough room for everyone and so we had to wait a short time until a place became available. We were also instructed to leave the canteen quickly after the meal in order to make room for others. The food was better than expected. Right next to the cafeteria there were toilets, showers and cabins would have been available if someone had not wanted to stay overnight in the car. From the uppermost outside deck we had a great view of the surrounding ocean. Shortly before our arrival in Mazatlán we could see dolphins jumping out of the water next to the ship.