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12 Hours to Culebra
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: A. Cerna (
Date:   03-22-12 07:17

My girlfriend and I booked a room in Culebra for an overnight Friday stay in mid February. We read this forum and other forums and knew of the problems with the ferry. A hotel in San Juan advised us to be at the ferry ticket office at 7am in order to catch the 9am ferry. We did so, by the time we got to the ticket depot, there was a line of about 30 people. No worries right? Wrong.

People in front of us were buying tickets for others who were not in line, others jumped in line at the last minute with friends to buy tickets. We calmly waited until it was our turn at the ticket counter. There were a couple of kids in front of us, two of their friends joined them to buy tickets, others from outside the line waived fingers, buy me 4 tickets to friends who were in line, etc..

We finally got to the front of the line. The person at the ticket counter suddenly took a look at the line behind us, picked up her radio and told us to wait. The ticket counter agent did not speak english well, barely any at all. After a few minutes she advised us that all tickets were sold, but we could wait to see if any seats were available as people loaded on to the ferry. The one and only ferry that was running was the cargo ferry with limited seating.

A uniformed official for the ferry made an announcement in english and spanish that tickets were sold out. An argument followed because "local residents" were still allowed to buy tickets while we had to stand and wait. The ferry official told a person that residents have a priority and that tourists (who also had reservations on Culebra) had many other options besides Culebra to visit in Puerto Rico.

So we wait until 9am only to hear that there was not even 1 ticket available.

Ok, so we'll take a plane right? Wrong!

After speaking to others in line we 1) buy a ticket for the 3pm Ferry just in case and 2) make a mad dash to the airport, a la "Amazing Race". We took a wrong turn and got to the airport later than a few others that were in line with us a the ferry. Others at the airport told us to get on the passenger list. We get to the front of the line and (once again) the Air Flamenco person advised us that all tickets were sold out for the day. You can't make reservations to fly on Air Flamenco we were told. Our only choice was to wait for the 3pm Ferry.

After sitting in the Ferry terminal for a couple of hours people start lining up at the ferry gate, then two lines form, then no lines form, just a mass of people. The same ferry official advised everyone that residents form a line to the left, tourists to the right. Which gate opens? The gate to the left for "residents" of course! We cram through the line to get in the gate, people were climbing over benches to get thru. Others tried cuttting in line saying that they were residents.

The 3pm ferry ride was fine, there were some seats available. So we left SJ at 6am and got to Culebra after 6PM, losing half our vacation time there. And we try to rent a car, no luck their either, all were booked, none available...

In 12 hours we could have flown from Chicago to Argentina...

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Re: 12 Hours to Culebra
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: Arroz (
Date:   03-22-12 08:52

This should be required reading for anyone who doesn't have much time to be on Culebra and thinks they should take the ferry instead of flying.

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Re: 12 Hours to Culebra
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: Debbie (173.243.87.---)
Date:   03-23-12 13:48

Even though you researched it before you went, I don't think any of us can stress enough the problems with the ferry. As Arroz said, your post should be required reading for anyone who thinks they can come and go and enjoy Culebra in one day.

BTW, you CAN make reservations on Air Flamenco; not sure who told you that, but it's incorrect information.

Happy Diving!

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Re: 12 Hours to Culebra
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: A. Cerna (
Date:   03-25-12 17:04

While in line at the ferry the people behind us were on the phone to Air F. They were told that if they were able to get enough people together ( 8 total) the flight would take off. After we got the final no go at the ferry ticket line I called Air F and told them that I was about 15 minutes and wanted to make a reservation. I was told by AF that they weren't taking reservations and I'd have to purchase a ticket at the airport. We missed a turn, arrived later than others at the airport, after waiting 15 minutes at an unattended ticket counter, were told that they were sold out for the entire day.

Air Flameco did NOT give us the option of making a reservation at 9am that Friday, had they done so, you wouldn't be reading this post and I wouldn't have lost 12 frustrating hours out of my life, half of our vacation would not have been ruined.

Every half hour we tried calling the AF desk airport in case someone dropped out, there was no answer at the desk.

It's a shame, such a beautiful place is so hard to get to. I overheard a couple in line behind us say that this had been the third day they tried unsuccessfully to catch the ferry to Culebra.

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Re: 12 Hours to Culebra
Culebra, Puerto Rico
Author: palmettoculebra (
Date:   03-25-12 18:13

Good afternoon,
We always recommend flying as you can purchase tickets in advance (the more notice, the better as they are small planes & do fill up) & the flight from San Juan is 1/2 hour & from Ceiba is 10 minutes.

When the ferries are sold out (which does happen with enough frequency) FLA will add additional flights from Ceiba. If you phone they will tell you that the flights are sold out, which refers to the scheduled flights. However, if you actually go to the airport & stand at the desk they will add additional flights back & forth "on demand" with 8 passengers or folks willing to pay for the 8 passenger min. to add the flight. If you are standing at the desk (15 min. is actually a short period of time for the desks at the smaller airports to go unattended) you can pay for a flight with a min. of 8 people or wait around to see if enough folks appear to gather up the min. 8 required.

This scenario is a frequent one & in our daily dealings with the airlines (& ferries) advance planning goes a long way towards a smooth transition.

We also purchase tickets in advance & mail them to guests booked with us. As residents we can do this. Although, it is still much better to purchase advance airline tickets.

The best advice is to always book flights with FLA or VAL well ahead of your travels. Culebra air also does charters to/from Culebra.

Palmetto GH, Culebra

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