You will realize that there are not many ships going to the San Blas Islands. There might be different reasons for that, mainly maybe that cruiseships of nowadays are quite too large for these small islands. Our ship had about 600 passangers onboard and that would be about the maximum of people that these small islands might be able to "absorbe"
In any case, the cruise-ships have to anchor and the passangers will be taken ashore by tenderboats.
In my picture: M/S Sagafjord in the colors of "Den Norske Americalinie" back in 1979, the chimney still in yellow with the stripes of the norwegian flag, a long time before the ship was sold to NAC and finally to Cunard/NAC and then to Cunard, who used it till 1996. Then it was sold again and renamed "Saga Rose".
This ship does not exist anymore !
There are daily flights from Albrook Airport to San Blas with two different airlines. The flight is only 20 minutes and costs 97$ for a return ticket and about 50$ one way. The flight is pleasant because it is low enough to have a maplike overview of the Panamanian topography. The small aircraft lands on island Porvenir. There are flights to different destinations in San Blas area from where you can take a boat to your hotel.
In the airport they checked our luggage with the help of a small cute cocker spaniel who jumped over the bags in a very funny playful way and then went away as if he had forgoten what he was brought there for. They had to call him back every time to go on with his ...job.
I flew with Aeroperlas airlinesthat has an office in Albrook Airport (315 7500). I, personally, was directed to the famous Hotel El Panama, on Via Espana, where there is a little desk of the company for your tickets. (223 2804).
There are no buses to drop you at Albrook airport. You should take a taxi. Don't give them more than 2$ for a day ride and 3 $ for a call and night ride! The official price is 1.50$-1.75$. It's only a 15 minute ride.
There is a rugged road from Panama City to Carti through El Llano, passable with jeeps. Then you can take a boat ride to your accommodation. You can arrange with locals on the islands or in Panama City, on Avenida Central in the old city area. The trip takes about four hours, plus the boat ride to your island, and costs about 50$ after negotiation.
From Colombia you can take a tourist sailing boat which stops at Porvenir island and then fly to Panama City. For details on sailing boats look at my Colombia tips.
Do your homework -- be prepared for almost anything -- sailing self reliance is a must when there is little assistance near...satelite phone could come in handy, sometimes in remote areas it's hard to find help even on channel 16 -- unfortunately we found this out thru experience. Burt it's worth the trip --