Cruise To Panama- NEWBIE

Feb 1st, 2006, 06:47 AM
  #1  
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Cruise To Panama- NEWBIE

Hello,
My hubby and I want to take a cruise to Panama next January for about 10 days or so.
He's NEVER been on a cruise, and ive only been on a 3 day Royal Carribean.

We are hotel snobs-- like the 4Seasons and Fairmont Hotels... I know there's no cruise line like this... but, does anyone like Princess Cruises? They have a 10 day Panama/Costa Rica cruise that looks nice. I know we'd do a balcony room.

Any advice is appreciated. Is Princess a nicer cruise line than Rc? I want to make sure we do a cruise line with open meal seating..so, we can eat at our own times.

thanks!!
aimee
aimeemorice1 is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 08:24 AM
  #2  
 
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I would take Princess over RCCL.
If you are hotel snobs then take a suite instead of just a balcony.
Have fun !
maryann is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 09:36 AM
  #3  
 
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Actually there are cruise lines like 4Seasons, etc. Try Radisson, Seabourn, or Silverseas. All have freestyle seating. If you have the money, these are the cruise lines for you.
You will get a variety of opinions on whether Princess is better or worse than RC. It may depend on the individual ship. Personally I have a low regard for Princess, although they do have freestyle seating if that's what you like.
therenaissanceman is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 11:11 AM
  #4  
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thanks.. those lines you mention do remind me of four seasons. and a lot more money too than princess... have you been on one of these? like silverseas?? im willing to spend the money .. but, im wondering if the service/food/rooms are worth it...
thanks for the help!
aimee

aimeemorice1 is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 11:38 AM
  #5  
 
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I, too, have a low opinion of Princess (but lower is RCCL) but your choices of the anytime dining in the mid priced lines is limited.

Any of the 3 high priced lines have an excellent rep.

Check cruisecritic.com, they have alot of reviews to look over.
maryann is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 12:29 PM
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We have cruised on Radisson and loved it! Actually it is not that much more expensive than a mass market cruise as you might think because much more is included in the cruise price. Three examples- tipping, wine at dinner, and use of kayaks and snorkeling equiplment are included. Mass market lines like Princess and Royal Caribbean tend to charge you extra for everything they can get away with. I say again- if you think you can afford it, take a luxury cruise line, even if it is not a balcony room.
therenaissanceman is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2006, 10:51 AM
  #7  
 
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The Seabourn cruise through the Panama canal is spectacular but it is almost two weeks, not 10 days. All cabins are suites and have either balconies or large picture windows. Everything (including tips) is included in the price except spa, photographs, excursions (although one a week is always complimentary). No cheesy art auctions or bingo, thank goodness.


I posted a trip report on Panama on the Seabourn board at cruisecritic.com. Pne of the hosts has also posted a daily log. Seabourn is excellent. I have sailed Princess and would NEVER do so again.
curiousx is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2006, 07:49 PM
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I would also recommend that you consider Oceania. Although we like Princess, we love Oceania. The size of the ships (684 passengers), great staff, open seating dining, elegant ships, no formal nights.
abram is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 10:18 AM
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We did the 10 day Holland America Panama Cruise. It was awesome.
wanderlust5 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 11:14 AM
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I second checking into Oceania. I can't wait to take a cruise on this line!
nanajan is offline  
Mar 30th, 2006, 02:17 PM
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Consider Crystal Cruises also, as they are an upscale line. Ships hold about 900 passengers and their demographic is "affluent, 50-60 year olds". I've been on 4 Crystal Cruises (plus Cunard, Princess, Celebrity) and am going on a Nov 06 Panama canal cruise on the Crystal Symphony.
vickiebypass is online now  
Mar 30th, 2006, 03:01 PM
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Based on what you're saying I think Regent Seven Seas (Radisson Seven Seas just changed their name to Regent) would be your best bet. The Voyager ship has the largest standard cabins (over 300 sq.ft) so there's no need to upgrade to a larger suite. Each standard cabin has a balcony. You will save a lot of $$ because you will not be paying for nightly liquor or wine, soft drinks, water, tips, etc. The biggest plus is that the ship only holds about 700 people when it's full yet its the same size as other mass marketed ships that hold 1,500 passengers. You'll definitely want to chose a cruise line that has open seating. I've done both a number of times and open seating is the only way to go.

Oceania seems to be one of these ships that people either love or hate. From what I've heard, like the mass marketed ships they charge for lots of things that the luxury lines include in the fare. My neighbors didn't like it, said they were signing checks for this or that for the entire 2 weeks. It's all a personal choice.
traveller333 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 10:26 PM
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traveller:
Can you elaborate on Oceania: the "they charge for things that are included" in the luxury lines? We are looking at the Oceania site, and we're trying to figure out what you mean. Can you find out from your neighbors exactly what they got charged for that they thought should have been included? We would consider Oceania if we could figure out what the extras were. On looking at their site, I can't figure it out as they don't stipulate "this costs extra" when they are describing things. For instance, the early morning yoga class - would they charge for that? I hate to look like a bumpkin if I call them and ask. Do you know the details?
wanderlust5 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 09:28 AM
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wanderlust5, I will see what more I can find out (I don't know these neighbors well, just chat with them when I walk my dog and they happen to be in their front yard). They did say that unlike some of the luxury cruise lines, Oceania charges for things like soda, bottled water, wine and all liquor (even at dinner). Tips are NOT included. They said the internet and ship excursions were higher priced than any ship they had sailed on. I guess the entertainment wasn't much to brag about either.

On a positive note, they said that even though their cabin was smaller than they had been used to it had ample storage. They liked the crew and service and the food was OK (not gourmet but tasty). The ship was very nice,they liked the casual dress code and open seating at dinner.

If someone is use to the massmarketed cruiselines where you get so much nickel and diming from the moment you walk aboard, these things on Oceania would not seem out of the norm. Apparently, my neighbors have been spoiled cruising on luxury lines that are all inclusive and this is why they said they wouldn't cruise on Oceania again. I think her words were "we felt ripped off". This couple is probably in their mid 40's and quite active. They never mentioned average age of passengers as being an issue.

If you have a specific question, I'll ask on your behalf when I see them next.
traveller333 is offline  
Apr 1st, 2006, 03:19 PM
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Thanks so much for your reply. I think that explains a lot to me. We have only cruised on HAL and RCCL, and in both cases we had to pay for sodas, etc. We've never cruised on the super expensive luxury lines. Thanks so much, and I think this cleared up my confusion.
wanderlust5 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2006, 08:32 AM
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All cruiseline will let you take a private excursion in Panama Canal (Gatun), Princess will force you to take the shore excursion with them or they don't will let you get off the ship in Gatun. It is not fair in my opinion.
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May 2nd, 2006, 08:24 AM
  #17  
Suerich68
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Someone in another post mentioned that this is a safety issue.
 
May 2nd, 2006, 03:20 PM
  #18  
 
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We just got back from a 10 day cruise to the Panama Canal on the Coral Princess. The staff was very friendly and accommodating. We enjoyed the entertainment. I was disappointed with Jamaica but we didn't take a shore excursion there. Perhaps we would have liked it better, if we had. We enjoyed Costa Maya and the Mayan Ruins, and of course, the Panama Canal is spectacular. We were disappointed with the quality of the food on the Princess, but from what I understand from OP, that is to be expected unless you are on a luxury line.
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