Panama Canal cruise questions

Dec 15th, 2013, 01:28 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2013
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Panama Canal cruise questions

Hello again! I thought I'd take advantage of your experiences and get your opinions on a Panama Canal cruise. I know I want to take Princess on a full transit.

Is Florida to California better than California to Florida? Is Fall better than Spring?

Thanks for any help you can provide!
mammajamma is offline  
Dec 15th, 2013, 01:33 PM
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I guess I could have included the facts that I've been on two seven-day cruises, one each on Norwegian and Princess and am booked for a seven-day to Alaska on Princess for this August (2014). I would have loved to have done an Alaskan cruise tour, but the other couple we're cruising with is unable to take the additional time for the land portion. I'm a little anxious about doubling the cruise time!
mammajamma is offline  
Dec 15th, 2013, 02:08 PM
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We've only done two cruises. One was a 7 day Alaska Cruise and the second one was a 20 day Panama Canal Cruise. Now a one week cruise is not long enough for us....LOL!

Both times we went though Holland America for many reasons but the top two were itinerary and price. The itinerary was how we decided on which direction and the time of the year. We did a re-positioning cruise so that's why it was longer than the usual 14 day full transits. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale, FL and ended in San Diego and rented a car to drive home. This worked really great for us. I would highly recommend the re-positioning cruises!

We went mid-March to early-April and I have no other experiences to compare it to. We had one day of light rain in the very beginning then the weather was great the whole time. It was the dry season for Central America ports like Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala so things were not as green as we thought it would be. I didn't know they had a DRY season but they do.

You might try asking over on the forums.

utahtea is offline  
Dec 15th, 2013, 05:45 PM
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I don't think either itinerary matters unless the port stops are different. If so then it's a matter of preference.

I imagine the time of yr. between spring and fall is a toss up. We went in Feb. and then the weather was ideal. You could look up average temps for that time of yr. but I imagine they are close.

A full transit canal crossing is the way to go IMHO and you will be seeing a true wonder. Be sure to take in some of the on board lectures about the PC.

Cheers, Larry.
jacketwatch is offline  
Dec 15th, 2013, 11:24 PM
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I have done several canal cruises as we get some good deals on the repositioning in spring/fall.(Vancouver) I would choose the spring because often times you can run into hurricane season in the fall. It has happened to friends of mine a couple of times and they didn't exactly have smooth sailing in the Caribbean.

Hi Larry!
traveller69 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2013, 12:11 AM
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Hey T69! How R U? Me, I'm recovering from knee surgery. Had a torn meniscus rt. knee.
jacketwatch is offline  
Dec 16th, 2013, 02:49 AM
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Hurricane season East of the Canal is June through November, which might make spring a safer choice.
abram is offline  
Dec 16th, 2013, 03:47 AM
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I did a transit of the Panama Canal in January 2011 with Holland America. Started from San Diego because I had read that entering the canal from the Pacific is more spectacular than from the Atlantic. The itinerary was also a reason for my decision.
SusieQQ is offline  
Dec 18th, 2013, 09:06 PM
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It's much better to go Westwards because then the clocks go backward as you cross time zones rather than forward: it's really stressful to lose an hour's sleep on three separate nights.

It's also good to be on a ship whose promenade deck is low enough that you can see the lock walls go past as the ship rises and falls with the filling and emptying of the locks; for example, you can see this from the Celebrity Century but you are above everything on the Celebrity Infinity.
someotherguy is offline  
Dec 19th, 2013, 11:48 PM
Join Date: May 2008
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This cruise looks interesting for anyone wanting something a little more private, its on a small cruise ship type yacht and it sails from costa rica to panama and then on to cartagena
dagreek is offline  
Dec 20th, 2013, 10:41 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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A full transit is the way to go! I agree with SusieQQ that it is more spectacular to enter the canal from the Pacific side. The view of Panama City in the early morning is beautiful. Sailing under the Bridge of America and through the Gaillard Cut in the morning is breathtaking.

Also remember that if you get at all seasick, sailing south off the coast of California and Baja California you will be going in the direction of the ocean currents so it it a much smoother sail.

We have been on over 30 cruises, and the Panama Canal is still one of our favorites.
BarbAnn is offline  
Dec 21st, 2013, 06:41 PM
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Thanks for your replies and suggestions. This will certainly help me make a final decision.
mammajamma is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2013, 08:49 PM
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We did west to east on advice of other cruisers, and I am glad we went this way.

From engineering point of view, the Pacific locks are more interesting, and they are in the morning when you are not tired to listen to the lecture, and to absorb the views (the "right" side has more pleasant views if you have cabin choice)

Once you are in the lake, there is not much to see, you can take a ship tour. Only west-to-east cruises offer tours.

Some cruisers, who live on the west coast, find it more convenient to ease themselves into time zones coming back, so they don't suffer from jetlag.

If I'd do it again, I'd still go west to east.
Dayenu is offline  

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