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I have made a deposit on my first Cruise (RCI Panama Canal)

I have made a deposit on my first Cruise (RCI Panama Canal)

Old May 26th, 2014, 04:31 PM
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I have made a deposit on my first Cruise (RCI Panama Canal)

I swore I would not do this until I was "old" but a friend has talked me in to doing a Panama Canal full transit.

It won't be until March of 2015 on Legend of the Seas (east to west). They have a good sale going now, half off the second person. I don't think the PC cruises are heavily discounted.

I tried to talk her into April in the other direction based on Dayenu's recommendation here but the timing isn't the best for her.

Hopefully we are still speaking two weeks later. I will bring a stick for her to poke me when I snore, and lots of earplugs. Maybe a white noise program on the iPod.

I am looking forward to shore excursions in Cartagena, Panama and Guatemala. We have a day in port and then the second day in transit.

Not sure if I will even get off the boat in Punta Arenas since I've been to Costa Rica. I will have to see what I can do without repeats of crocodiles and coffee plantations.

I missed the freeway exit for Sarchi so maybe I can go there and somewhere else.

We will probably just hang out in PV and Cabo.

If anyone has tips or recent experiences on the ship Legend of the Seas, thanks in advance.
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Old May 27th, 2014, 07:00 AM
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Well first of all this is a great cruise and full transit is the way to go I think.

There are lecturers on board to teach you the history of this monumental,achievement and I was amazed by it all.

You can go to Antigua in Guatemala. We walked around, found some surprisingly good restaurants and shopped a bit. If you like beer try the local Gallo. Really good.

We went to Sarchi which is described as an artists village. They specialize in hand painted ox carts of all shapes and sizes. Yes, ox carts. Actually there are lots of crafts so if you like that you will have plenty of choices.

During the transit thru the PC get pics from all over the ship. It's nice to be fore and aft. From the bow we got a great pic of the Coral Princess and it's amazing just how tight the fit is but it works!
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Old May 27th, 2014, 03:59 PM
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Thank you jacketwatch. I think I've seen your name on cruisecritic. I just joined.

I've seen the oxcarts in Costa Rica, even have a photo of someone using one on the road up near Doka coffee plant.

https://picasaweb.google.com/kiwifan...55921558610114

Hopefully my friend and I will still be onboard next March. I am not used to signing up for anything this far ahead.
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Old May 27th, 2014, 04:46 PM
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Ok. I don't post much over there, just from time to time.

You can sign up when you get on the ship if you want to wait, no problem.

It will be interesting to see if the new PC is finished yet. It should be very close to completion.

Cheers, Larry.
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Old Apr 16th, 2015, 10:04 AM
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I'm back! There were some good things and some bad things. Our ship came down with a rather significant Norovirus outbreak, but thankfully not enough to quarantine or skip ports, just extra sanitation. The Canal transit was interesting, as were Cartagena and Antigua Guatemala. I was less bored than I thought I would be on the sea days. Did a lot of eating and then working out/walking around the top deck. There were not a lot of great lectures or activities (I did a few mini golf tournaments, trivia, Spanish refresher lessons). Met a lot of nice Canadians on the boat, there were about 600 out of 1800 not US citizens. We boarded in FLL very quickly, and about 30 minutes later than our assigned time in San Diego. Due to them needing extra cleaning for Norovirus, we had to vacate cabins at 8 am and they shut down a lot of the facilities, so there was about a 2-hour wait outside of our cabin with nothing to do but sit.

The food was a pleasant surprise, both in the Main dining room and the buffets. The Windjammer buffet was well managed, I really commend them on that part of their food service. OTOH service in the MDR was very mixed, awful for the first formal night (20 minute wait and a terrible waiter). With about 5 nights left I found a good waiter and given the Norovirus outbreak had no trouble being seated in his section. Our cabin attendant was wonderful. One nice thing about Legend was the free room service which my cabin mate used on several occasions. Not much good to say about either Guest Services or Excursions staff. They cancelled three tours in Panama the night before, due to Saturday being declared at the last minute a government holiday. Tried to put everyone on a canal cruise on a small boat when we were doing full transit the next day. Colon is not a great port stop. I would either do a full transit without an extra day, or base in Panama (Balboa) for excursions., From Colon, I went on the ship's tour to Gamboa which was poor value, e.g., we didn't get a nature guide on the individual trams while those who booked privately did.

We had a new (for them) history and culture lecturer on board who was the worst!!! (Dr. Thomas Ryan). Disorganized, old slides, inappropriate comments, and couldn't be bothered to learn correct pronunciation, many other guests felt the same. At least he gave us something to talk about. I went to one session and swore off the rest. The captain's 10 minute summaries in the morning were informative. The on-board commentator for the Canal was different, and better. The transit itself was interesting.

We enjoyed the Temptations tribute group, but the rest of the theater entertainment = meh. They played one movie I hadn't seen (Theory of Everything) but it was so cold that night that no one watched it on the pool deck, so it was replayed in the Theater. We soon realized that the screen quality in the theater is terrible. But there were two large screen TVs on the side, so everyone clustered around those. The in-room TV has very limited stations (they want you out in the ship spending money). The people who were quarantined were so bored!! I was able to watch the Masters for 4 days and the final round was on the big screen. We did not get the aerialists which are a big selling point for the ship due to cast being busy training for "crew changeover". I though that was very bush league to not have them on all cruises.

I took two privately arranged tours (Cartagena with Dora, and to Monteverde, Costa Rica with GioTours), that I signed onto via Cruisecritic. Both were very good. The guide we had in CR was excellent (Omar). In Guatemala I just used the ship's transfer service and walked around Antigua.

It was frustrating to not have more time in the port stops, only about 4-6 hours.
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Old Apr 17th, 2015, 07:32 PM
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MLGB, now with this experience - will you be taking more cruises?

We did the full transit on RCI from LA to Dominican Republic.
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Old Apr 18th, 2015, 08:17 AM
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Hi Dayenu, maybe...Alaska? Someday. I liked the never having to cook or clean part, I miss that now!
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Old Apr 18th, 2015, 08:31 AM
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Thanks for the follow up TR. Sorry to hear it was so mixed. What's up with the new canal.

We had a great historian when we did the PC so as this makes a big difference it's too bad the one you had was substandard.

A PC cruise is basically about the PC so the ports are secondary. We had a stop in Nicaragua. Yeesh. I forgot the port but it was small and backwaterish and you definitely got the "Yankee go home" feeling. Some shopkeeper actually refused to sell me anything! Well I got the t-shirt up the road for half the price so toots here's to you from Mr. Yankee ��
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Old Apr 18th, 2015, 10:22 AM
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We could see the cranes, and lots of excavation from the canal. They are 24/7 trying to make a new deadline (early 2016), since they already have ships scheduled for mid-2016. The guide on our bus to Gamboa filled us in on these types of details that the "lecturer" missed.

She said two of the three companies are on schedule, but the Belgian company (dredging IIRC) is behind. Also the price with overruns is now the same as what the US company bid...$8 billion.

The transit was a bucket list item for my cabin mate but I chose this particular routing because it included Cartagena and Guatemala (for the Spanish colonial architecture and shopping!).
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Old Apr 18th, 2015, 12:17 PM
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Wow. When we did the PC in early 2009 2014 was the estimated time it was to be finished.
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Old Apr 20th, 2015, 11:21 AM
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Here is the shortlink to my Flickr album for Panama Canal transit. There are a few that show the construction although it was a bit hazy so those are not the best.

https://flic.kr/s/aHskanEyoZ
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Old Apr 25th, 2015, 06:02 PM
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We want to do another full transition west to east when they start to use the new canal. Hey, we can make it Fodor's transition
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Old Apr 26th, 2015, 06:36 AM
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Cool. I wonder if it will be faster in the new PC.
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Old Apr 26th, 2015, 07:28 PM
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I don't remember if they said that. But they said the wait time into the canal for cargo ships would be reduced,so I assume that means they can push everyone through faster. I wonder if there would be bottlenecks in other parts of the canal, or if the widening adds another traffic lane for the whole thing.

As you can see I wasn't paying that much attention, LOL>
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Old Apr 28th, 2015, 08:17 AM
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Also I would think more ships= more $$$.
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Old Apr 29th, 2015, 10:17 AM
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Bigger ships = more $$$. Of course let's see what happens in April 2016...

This is a cut and paste from PanCanal.com

The proposed restructuring calls for each segment to be priced based upon different units of measurement, while aligning with customers’ needs and requests, and modifying pricing for all Canal segments. For instance, containers will be measured and priced on TEUs, dry bulkers will be based on deadweight tonnage capacity and metric tons of cargo, passenger vessels will be based on berths, LNG will be based on cubic meters and tankers will be measured and priced on Panama Canal tons and metric tons.

The new structure will apply to the existing Canal as well as the new lane of traffic when the expansion project begins operation in 2016. The new locks will allow shipping lines to transit the Canal with larger ships, providing greater economies of scale. Moreover, the expansion will open new global shipping routes and allow the transit of non-traditional commodities through the waterway, such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
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Old Apr 29th, 2015, 06:12 PM
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I am not sure what that means except a lot more $$$. .
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Old May 2nd, 2015, 09:04 PM
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The cost to transit the canal would probably goes down once (if and when) the new Nicaragua Canal opens, supposedly before 2020.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaragua_Canal

I am quite sure they want tourism as well so another "canal cruise" is not too far in the future?
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