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Panama Canal Agents: Cruisers' Recommendations

By Sue Richards last modified Jun 28, 2016 03:05 PM

Published: 2015-03-31 02:30:00
Countries: Panama

Many cruisers have also posted comments at the bottom of this report.

Posted 24 March, 2015 - Panama Canal Passing March 2015

Our agent was Oliver – we can his service highly recommend!

Oliver is a multilingual yacht agent from Belgium,  offering his services in Shelter Bay, Porto Lindo, Porto Belo and Panama City. We met him in Porto Belo, that save money for taxi and marina. Oliver is a great help for spare sourcing, provisioning, gas filling, local information and other logistic needs. He speaks fluent german, french and dutch. It was nice to communicate with him in our mother tongue,

Oliver is punctual, reliable and reachable anytime by phone +507 6602 0498 or by email

Helga Langer

Posted 21 March, 2015 - Praise for Oliver’s yacht services

Katia and myself are a young couple sailing under Dutch flag. We got in touch with Oliver’s Yacht services, a Belgium agent recommended to us by a befriended super yacht captain. Oliver and his wife lived in Spanish speaking America for a good time and started operations in Panama last year. He has a very nice website which reflects his superb way to arrange the transit. It made us wonder about the costs, but we found there is no need. He is very affordable and we were completely satisfied.

First and foremost Oliver arranged the canal transit like clockwork. He was quick on e-mail and phone and helped us with our questions. Also he sorted the canal transit, took us to the bank (which we liked as we paid directly to the authorities) and on the way back took us grocery shopping. He also arranged and picked up the tyres and lines, everything running smoothly and most pleasantly. Oliver will arrange line handlers if need be or transit himself if time permits, something he seems to enjoy. In our case not only did he help us with shopping and the transit, he did join in fact as line handler and we had a great time crossing whilst sharing laughs and beers on Lake Gatun. He is fluent in English, Spanish and Dutch among other languages. We definitely recommend him. His contact info you find below.

+507 6602 0498
Panama City, PANAMA

Josh & Katia, SY Hope (

Posted 09 February 2015

I cleared in Colon, berthed at Shelter Bay Marina.
I was on a delivery and used an agent, Erick from
Erick was a very professional and courteous. His service was inclusive. Check in, Visa if required. He arranged the Admeasurers visit, the transit paperwork, banking and everything else involved. Lines and fenders were delivered to the Marina and collected promptly at Balboa. At all times he communicated regularly by email and in person. His fee was $350.00... Money well spent.( you could and probably would spend half of that in taxi costs).
Shelter Bay marina was very pleasant, good facilities, pool, laundry a very helpful service department and office staff.
All in all it was a great experience.

Simon Edwards

Posted 28 June 2013

We would like to recommend Roy Bravo (, as a Panama agent. We contacted Roy while still in the British Virgin Islands and sent him our boat information. Roy handled our pre-arrival paperwork and emailed us our Panama Canal SIN (Ship Identification Number) before we arrived. Upon arrival in Shelter Bay Marina we checked into the Marina and contacted Roy. He arrived a few hours later and he handled all our paperwork. We never had to visit a customs, immigration, or Panama Canal office. Roy arranged for our boat to be measured the next day. The day before our canal transit Roy delivered our lines and tire fenders, and the next day Roy delivered 3 line handlers that he had hired for us. He also took our passports, cleared us out, and brought us our Zarpe and our cruising permit so we could spend some time in the Las Perlas islands. Roy made all the paperwork very simple for us. While in Panama we only had to deal with the Marina office and Roy. Roy looked after everything else. He was always friendly and answered our emails promply. We also never had to post a security deposit for our canal transit. For people like us who don't care much for formalities and paperwork, Roy's services were well worth the money we paid him.

Uwe & Anne Borgmann
Burlington, Ontario, Canada

(For more reviews about Roy's services see below)

Posted 7 May 2012

I used Roy Bravo, and was very pleased.

He quoted accurate fees, and offered a flat price with no surprises. For a southbound transit, he also did not require a buffer deposit. He always responded to my email updates and questions almost immediately, usually within about 10 minutes, night or day, 7 days a week- which is when he works.

The day I arrived at Shelter Bay Marina, he stopped by to pick up my passport, and handled all immigration and customs for me and the boat, without me ever needing to leave the marina or see an official. He arranged for the boat to be measured the next morning, and then I chose a transit date that would allow me to fly home for 10 days first.

My transit date was May 3, an afternoon start, overnight on Gatun lake, then lock down to the Pacific on the 4th. We would raft with two other boats, and transit through the locks center-chamber, which is the most common schedule and process for handline boats (less than 125 feet).

As is the case with most transits, my schedule got bumped slightly, and I was re-scheduled for a 6am start on the 4th, transiting all the way through that day, arriving in the Pacific that evening- only a few hours later than the original plan. We were at the entrance at 6am, but the freighter we were supposed lock behind was delayed, so we got bumped again, as the next freighter in line was a Panamax, leaving no room for handline boats.

Roy was in constant contact with us and with the canal schedulers throughout, and continued handling everything for us. He knew my crew had tickets to fly out of Panama on the morning of the 5th, so he arranged an afternoon start on the 4th, no stop on the lake, and arrival on the Pacific side at 1am on the 5th. And that's how it finally worked.

Roy was always very professional, courteous and patient, and willing to spend as much time as we needed explaining things and answering questions. He even arranged for his brother to drive me to the airport and pick me up on my return, which was a big help for me. He was at the marina every day, and available any time by phone and email. He was handling several other cruisers (including 16-year-old Laura Dekker on Guppy), and everyone I spoke with was happy with his service.

David Kory

Posted 22 March 2012

Unexpectedly and at very short notice, we had to leave our yacht at Shelter Bay Marina (Panama) and return to Australia. Roy Bravo of Emmanuel Agencies provided the maximum of assistance by personally taking me to a travel agency in Colon, then driving me to a hotel near Panama Airport. In addition to the other testaments regarding his professional and thorough expertise as an agent to manage yachts transiting the Canal, his local "know-how" and experience beyond that saved my precarious situation.

Andrew Maitland

Posted 29 January 2012

We highly recommend Roy Bravo (, Mobile:(507) 6678 6820) from Emmanuel Agencies S.A. as agent for the Panama-Canal Transit. We were very satisfied by the professional way he managed all procedures necessary concerning the passage through the Panama-Canal. His services offered to us in Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, included:

  • Clearing in Colon and get a Zarpe for Balboa
    - Organizing the whole transit with the Canal authorities
    - Organizing tires and ropes as well as professional linehandlers
    - Responding at anytimes our questions concerning the procedure of the transit

His fees were listed very transparently and we had no add ons to pay to the total fee. The fees were worth to pay since the passage took place on the date we were asking for and we had a very smooth transit. Everything was well organized and we always could rely on Mr. Bravo.

Bernhard Etter & Annemarie Steiger Etter - SY MARIPOSA

Posted 27th December 2011

Excellent experience for crossing the Panama Canal from Caribbean to Pacific

We can just only recommend the complete and accurate service we got from Roy Bravo and his Agency in Colon.

He did organize everything for us, from the check in to Colon to the Zarpe to leave and of course the supply of tiers and lines together with experienced linehandlers. He did even help us to get a slip in the always full Flamenco Island Marina in Panama.

The fees were perfectly clear and transparently listed and there was no add-ons to it. He is just perfectly organized, and you will get immediate response to any question you might have - sometimes even to an email after midnight!

We have gotten our transit on the date we wished, and made the crossing in just 8 hours - with no stress and problems!

Jürg Beeli

Posted 29 November 2011

I used Stanley Scott whilst in Panama 2010 to transit with a 51 foot sailboat, he was fantastic, as he was, with 2 other vessels I know that used him. He picked up my wife in Panama and drove her to shelterbay marina, She arrived late in the night at the airport and he was there at the gate waiting for her. He did this for less than a cab would have charged. Stanley did a fantastic job for us. Just remember folks, your in Panama, not Vancouver, LA, or London. I highly recommend that you try doing your own paperwork, then you will see the true value in hiring an agent.

David Fabbro

See also the following report recommending Erick Galvez of Centenario & Co.S.A.:

Planning to Transit the Panama Canal?

Posted 4 July 2011

We first contacted Alex from Associated Yacht Services (AYS) when we were in Florida ... he ALWAYS responded quickly to the emails we sent and was always available on the phone when we called. To say we were impressed with his services would be an understatement. He even helped us out when immigration boarded us in Balboa after the transit.

We would recommend him to anyone - he also suggested Antonio, our agent in Galapagos, who is fabulous as well.


Posted 21 June 2011

Came thru the canal in mid-April 2011 and can't say enough about the help received from Peter Stevens of the Delfino Maritime Agency His knowledge of canal workings got us through quickly while others were waiting weeks. We saved far more than his fee in marina charges alone. Could have used a little more help with Atlantic side customs and immigration procedures but canal formalities and Pacific side paperwork were taken care of completely.

We also used his associate and professional line handler, Tito, who was invaluable in the transit. I’d recommend first-timers to use Tito even if you have the necessary line handlers aboard.

Jon Hill

Posted 22 February 2011
Excellent Experience with Canal Agent

We have just completed our transit of the canal in mid feb 2011. We chose Eric Galvez as our Agent. Eric's company is called

Centenario Consultant Agency
mob (507)6676 1376

We would recommend Eric to every yachtie. He is an intelligent honorable organized man, who speaks excellent English. His price is all inclusive - tyres, lines, pick up of lines etc.There are no hidden costs. Eric keeps you up to date via both email and phone as the canal authority shuffles your transit time. In our opinion his lines and equipment were of superior quality. Everything is arranged ahead of time and runs like clockwork.

Eric is an accredited agent so there is no need to post a bond. By using an accredited agent you avoid needing to wait on the other side for 3 weeks for the bond to be refunded.

Eric arranges linehandlers if you require them. We took two and were glad we had done so. They handled the bow, and it went like a well oiled clock. The two young men were 3rd year electrical engineering university students, Jamie and Delbis. Jamie is Eric's son.

Eric met us off Balboa yacht club after our transit and had the gear and young men off the boat within 10 minutes. Eric always went that extra yard to be helpful. When we needed a fridge mechanic he bought him to the boat. We only wanted to transit "nested", so Eric chose a day when only 3 yachts were transitting. While nothing can be guaranteed with the authority, it was pounds to peanuts we would be nested, which was what transpired.

Any yacht inteerested in our transit experience and our list of pitfalls can view it at

Dan and Yo Hellier
SV Jacana of Melbourne


See Panama Canal Agents: Beware! - published April 2010

Jacqui Irving
Jacqui Irving says:
Feb 02, 2019 05:31 PM

31st January 2019 , I have just used Roy Bravo and the Emmanuel Agency , and I can't praise him enough . Clarity in process and great communication fabulous .The team of line handlers he provided were superb , it made a huge difference to the whole process ,of my first canal transit . I chose Roy because he was recommended on noonsite, I would like to also thank him and the team and share my recommendation with other cruisers .we transited from shelter bay Marina to Balboa .

pnoel says:
Jun 27, 2016 10:48 PM

We used Suzanne of Deimar Panama Agencies. She speaks french and is very professional. she takes care of everything and we waited just two days to transit the canal. It was perfect, thank you Suzanne. P. Noel

Mark Morwood
Mark Morwood says:
Apr 24, 2015 01:32 AM

Another recommendation for Roy Bravo. We had similar positive experiences to those above. He exceeded expectations. I wouldn't hesitate to use him again and recommend him highly. Mark Morwood - S/V Por Dos - transit April 4/5 2015.

David Johnson
David Johnson says:
Feb 28, 2015 01:29 AM

We recently completed a north to south transit and used Erick Galvez from Centenario. Would definitely recommend him as an agent. He was efficient and excellent communication throughout. Fenders were proper large inflatables, not dirty old tires. All in for $350 inc. all paperwork for immigration, cruising permit, zarpe etc (you still have to pay the individual fees of course). Made the whole thing hassle free, don't even have to leave Shelter Bay (or better spend your time in San Blas or somewhere nice like that).

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 15, 2014 12:40 PM

I would like to report an excellent and satisfactory experience I had recently using Roy Bravo of Emmanuel Agencies, SA as the agent for my transit of the Panama Canal on my s/v Elcano. Roy is remarkably responsive. He answers emails usually in minutes and is closely attentive to each step of the process of clearing into Panama and getting ready to make the transit, including explaining clearly what to expect. His English is excellent—much better than my Spanish. In order to save time and trouble just before the transit I wired the necessary funds to him a month or so before my arrival and was impressed by his diligent accounting for all expenses.
S/v Elcano

kcfraser says:
Jan 12, 2014 09:10 PM

We used Roy Bravo of Emmanuel Agencies and were very pleased with the services he provided. He was extremely professional, personable and looking for ways in which he could assist us for our transit and during our stay in Panama. Roy took care of all aspects of our transit from hiring line handlers, providing tires and lines at 5 am, completing all paperwork for the transit, cruising in Panama and obtaining the necessary zarpes for our visit to the San Blas Islands. He was prompt in responding to telephone calls and e-mails. It was a pleasure to work with him.