I am going to try and be detailed for those of you wanted all the info. My husband and I rode our motorcycle down to La Paz from the states and took Baja Ferry (specifically Baja Star) across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan back in late January. It was a 12 hour ferry, departing at 8pm and arriving at 7:30-8am the next day. Ferry's have different schedules so be sure to look it up online. They do not run everyday. (For those of you reading for animal info. we didn't have our puppy until traveling back to La Paz from Mazatlan in late March, so scroll down for that info.) Our experience leaving from La Paz wasn't bad, just very different then when leaving from Mazatlan. In La Paz, we were asked to get to the docks 3 hours before our ferry was scheduled to leave. The paperwork for the bike was a hassle, so I was glad we bought our tickets a few days before and not day of. Anyways, we arrived at 5pm to the docks (located about 20-30 minutes out of La Paz), our ferry scheduled to leave at 8. We pulled into the loading area and had to push a button to see if we would have to get our vehicle searched. It is totally random but our light happened to turn red, so we pulled open our bags and showed the employees. I have to say that they were very kind and even made small talk with us. No big deal there. After that, my husband and I had to separate because only one driver was allowed to go with the vehicle, regardless of if it was a car or moto. My husband had to pay about $4.00 USD to have the moto weighed which was silly because they make it mandatory, but it was quick and easy since we got there early. He waited in line with the other vehicles for quite a while even though we were some of the first passengers there, not being able to load until after most of the trucks since he had a small vehicle. I had to wait inside, an area similar to airport seating when waiting for a plane, until 7pm, an hour before the ferry was scheduled to leave. There were a lot of people traveling on the ferry which seems to be the norm. If you have a cabin, they let you bring your luggage with you, but if you just have a seat they make you check your stuff. At 6, they had everyone line up and go through a similar process as the car. They individually asked if I had any drugs or alcohol, I said no, then I had to push another button to see if my things would be searched. It turned green this time so I was free to head on without having to open my stuff. From there, I walked directly onto the ferry. You walk through the truck/car loading area on a designated pathway, lead by an employee. They take you to a door that leads up some steep stairs to the boat's reception area. My husband said they allow the drivers to take an elevator, so that is an option. Though I wouldn't say the ferry (Baja Star) was brand new, it is very clean and well maintained. They have AC running so it is cool, even though the cities are hot. I checked in at reception, but they wouldn't give me the key to our cabin because my husband had the cabin ticket. So i waited about 45 minutes for him to make it to the reception area. He had to give up his ID to get the room key, but was given it back the next morning no problem. The cabin was very simple, but nice. We got one with a window and TV, though the Tv had no channels. The window is definitely nice if you tend to get sea sick, though not necessary at all. The room had 4 twin beds in it, sort of like bunk beds, and a clean bathroom with towels, toiletries, shower, sink and toilet. It also had lots of storage, including a cabinet with life vests. It was comfortable and very clean for a night's stay. We had 0 issues with the room. If you don't purchase a cabin ($45 and up) you are assigned a seat, similar to a nice airplane seat, in a certain room. The downside to this is that they have TV's blasting movies all night long, and the rooms are cold. If you choose this option, i suggest earplugs and a blanket.. I read a lot of reviews about people complaining about the included dinner, but it wasn't bad at all. You get to choose a main, like chicken or beef, then they also give you refried beans, rice, corn tortillas, a choice of water or soda, and jello. If you are super high maintenance, it won't be good enough for you, but we were thankful for the food. They have vending machines on site with snacks and drinks, and they also have a bar, as well as other food options in the restaurant area. In the restaurant itself, they had a live performer singing, meaning people were getting up and dancing and having a good time. Dinner is usually served between a 2-3 hour window, so you have plenty of time to settle in, then go eat. The ship also has some entertainment things like fooseball table, air hockey, video games, and stuffed animal machines. They have live announcement going off every once in a while in both Spanish and English. The only time this is annoying is at 6AM. They also have a small shop on the boat, tax free, with perfumes and some alcohol. Breakfast the next morning is not included, though they serve coffee and pastries for cheap. Once we arrived in Mazatlan, they made several announcements and had security guards all over on the boat to help you figure out where to go. Once again, my husband and I had to separate, he getting in line to go down with the drivers, and me exiting by foot. Exiting into Mazatlan is a little confusing because the cars don't exit in the same place, so make sure you have communication with whomever you are with if you have a vehicle so you can find each other. We left right on time at 8PM, and arrived right on time between 7:30 and 8 am the next morning. No issues. Overall, I would give this trip a 5/5.
Now for Mazatlan back to La Paz. Purchasing the ticket this time was super easy. The dog was free, and we got a cheaper cabin this time, one with no window. Simple, 4 twin beds and a bathroom. It was nice, I would get that one again to save the few bucks that the window and the tv cost. It was clean and well stocked. Anyways, we bought our tickets 3 days before the ferry was scheduled to leave. This time the ferry was to leave at 6:30, though the office employee didn't tell us we needed to arrive 3 hours early like in La Paz. The lady at the office told us we HAVE to bring our own dog cage. She said it had to be a hard cage, but no one ever checks. We said ok. If you are scrambling to find one, both Walmarts in Mazatlan sell them for between $20.00-$50.00 depending on the size you need. There are also local pet stores that sell pet carriers, though it won't be comfortable for your pet. We used a carrier and we wished we didn't because she was stuck laying down the entire time. We arrived to the dock about 2 hours early this time, and separated again, my husband going with the moto and me by foot with our puppy. I only had to show my passport and ticket to a random lady standing in a heard of other passengers, and then wait about 20 minutes until they start letting us board. No one even checked to make sure I had a pet cage or anything. The only security procedure was a military man with a dog making us set our luggage on the ground and having the dog sniff it. That was it literally. It took 30 seconds and then we got on the actual boat, this time much earlier than just an hour before, once again lead by an employee to a door and up some steep stairs. By the time I got on the boat, about 4:45-5:00pm, my husband was already on. He didn't have to wait behind all the other cars to load the moto, and like me, security was very simple getting onto the boat. I took my ticket to reception and the lady was going to have a man escort us to our room. If you have a pet, you could easily sneak them into your room by having one person hold them in their carrier nearby while the other is shown the room by the employee, then meet up later. The lady didn't even look at my information other then my cabin ticket. This being our first time, we didn't do that. The man showed my husband to the "Area de Mascotas," a very small room on the upper deck, not cold or hot, but just small, locked with a pad lock at all times. We had to set our puppy on the floor or on one of the shelves in her pet carrier and leave her there. (We read other reviews saying some ferry's have built in cages, and some have rooms for pets and some don't) I guess all ferry's are different. This one had no pre-built-in cages. Anyways, the employees had no problem letting us go visit her when we wanted to, however, you have to ask reception and someone has to accompany you because they have to unlock the door, wait for you, then lock it again. It was a hassle and felt rushed because they had to wait on you, it wasn't like we could sit and play with her for an hour. We were not allowed to walk her or let her leave the little room. She was in there for a total of 13.5 hours. There is nowhere for her to poop or pee, so she ended up peeing A LOT in her pet carrier. It was pretty sad and I was surprised they wouldn't let us take her to the bathroom. The ship didn't end up leaving until 8PM, and we didnt get in on time either. We got our included dinner, same as the other ferry ride, and once again it was good. We headed to our room and hung out for the evening after walking around the ship a bit. You are allowed to be on the deck which is nice if you need fresh air. The next morning, we woke up at 6:30, expecting to arrive in La Paz by 7:30, but we didn't have to even get out of bed until 8AM. The ship didn't dock until about 9am, and we didn't get off until about 9:30 or later. They wouldn't let us get the dog until vehicles were able to unload, so even though we went to see the puppy around 8 to feed her and give her water, we had to put her back in the cage for another 1.5 hours until it was time to get off with out vehicle. If you are taking your pet, I suggest a nice carrier with room for them to stand up, a hook-on water dish, and maybe a pee mat. Even though it is super sad doing it, if you must take the ferry with your animal, it is totally doable. When I finally got my puppy, I had to exit the boat, and there was nowhere for me to take her to the bathroom because I had to go through security-a metal detector, and have someone check my documents. Of course, because I was a white girl by myself, I was the only one stopped and asked to show my passport and get asked questions in the middle of the building, well my dog wasn't in her cage because I had to walk her through the detector out of the cage, so she popped a squat and peed and pooped right on the floor. Then I got yelled at which was ironic because I was forced to take her our of her carrier by security in the first place. But (sorry to say) I didn't care. I cleaned it up of course, but what else was she supposed to do? Especially because she's a puppy and wasn't allowed to go to the bathroom on the boat for over 12 hours. Anyways, I met my husband outside and we were off. Finding him this time was much easier. I would rate this ferry a 3/5 only because of the animal situation and late departure/arrival time, everything else (dinner, boat quality, cabin, etc...) was nice. If you have specific questions, ask the employees in the BajaFerry office in person when buying your tickets. Don't just assume stuff. Especially because the website is not very specific.
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