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Panama Canal Cruise Review

Recently returned from a 16 day Panama Canal cruise on the Regatta, an Oceania cruise ship. This was our first time on an Oceania vessel and from our experience we would not hesitate to choose this line for any future cruises. We were attracted by the smaller size ( 674 passengers ) and the country club casual dress code.

We started in Miami where we spent 2 days prior to the cruise and stayed at the Intercontinental by Biscayne Bay. Our stay at the hotel was very good and from our experience I feel comfortable in recommending this hotel for a pre or post cruise accommodation.

We booked a Concierge level veranda cabin (midship) for our cruise and were pleased with the stateroom and the added amenities. Although not overly large the stateroom was comfortable with plenty of storage space. The bathrooms are on the small size but more than adequate for ones needs.

The ships decor is lovely with a more traditional look and everything was in good condition and well maintained. All of the service on board was very good from the restaurant staff to the room stewards and the only area that we thought could use improvement was the Destination Services Desk. They didn't seem to be very well informed when it came to any enquiries unless they revolved around questions about the ships tours.

Another big plus was the cuisine which was consistently excellent on a daily basis. We tried the specialty restaurants on several occasions but actually found that the food in the main dining room was more to our liking. We ate almost all breakfasts and lunches in the Terrace Restaurant which was buffet style and offered lots of variety.

We enjoyed most of the entertainment shows which we watched each evening in the Regatta Lounge after dinner. They started at 9:45 and ran for about 45 min. which still left time for a nightcap or possibly dancing in the Horizons Lounge, before turning in for the night.

We had 8 port and 8 sea days which made for a very relaxing time. We didn't do much in our first stop in Grand Cayman and just wandered around the little port town for a few hrs. to browse through the shops and take pictures.

Our next stop was more interesting in Cartegena, Columbia. We took a short taxi ride to the Old City and very much enjoyed strolling through the streets. There's lots of lovely architecture and colorful buildings to see. We didn't venture anywhere else because our time in port was rather limited due to the fact that our scheduled time to enter the Panama Canal had to be changed and moved forward.

Next day was the highlight of our trip passing through the Canal and the various locks. We had seen a documentary a day earlier on it's construction and this made the journey that much more interesting after seeing what was involved in building this crossing. Quite an amazing feat but sadly with a great loss of life.

Our next port of call after a sea day was Punta Arenas in Costa Rica. As we had been in Costa Rica previously we decided to just do our own tour of the port area and walked around the town for a few hrs. Made a few little purchases and that was about it.

Another day at sea and then our stop in Guatemala. We hired a car with driver and interpreter and drove to the city of Antigua which took about an hr. or so from the port. The town was again quite picturesque with cobblestone roads and some beautiful buildings with lovely architecture.
We also visited an interesting monastery that had been turned into a hotel and a coffee plantation where we purchased some good java.
We had really wanted to do a trip to see the Mayan ruins at Tikal but unfortunately all the space was booked very early and they could not get the additional number of people needed to charter another smaller plane.

Our next 2 stops were Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. Neither of these places were of any great interest to us but that was fine. Our last 2 days were spent at sea and very relaxing overall. The weather was noticeably cooler as we headed north to L.A. but still comfortable enough to wear lightweight clothes on deck although I did opt for long sleeved tops.

Overall this was a delightful cruise on a lovely ship with excellent service and wonderful cuisine.

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