Partial or Full Transit for Panama Canal?

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Jun 2nd, 2009, 07:05 AM
  #1
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Partial or Full Transit for Panama Canal?

DH & I are planning to do a Panama Canal cruise and when looking into it I found out there are partial and full transits of the PC. I've figured out what those are but does anyone have any suggestions on whether it's better to do a partial with canal excursions or do a full transit?

We're thinking of November 2009 or April/May 2010 cruise...any recs on if one time is better than another? (DH would prefer to stay out of hurricane season, o/w we're flexible to other times too.)

Any suggestions much appreciated!

Enjoy-la!
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Jun 2nd, 2009, 07:35 AM
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If you are going to go then do the full transit. We did this last Feb. and only this way can you truely appreciate the span of this engineering feat. However the down side is that the ports on the Pacific side, at least for us were so so. My opinion only of course. You will get an appreciation for how people live in an area so close to us yet so far in terms of living standards. Personally I prefer the more developed and up beat pace on the so. Caribbean ports but again thats just me. I am glad we did it but if the opportunity came again we would do the partial transit. My review of this cruise is here BTW. Just search under my user id. Any questions please ask. Larry
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Jun 2nd, 2009, 11:02 AM
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I am so happy we did the full transit from West to East! This is the best way to go. Of course, partial transit is better then no cruise at all, but do try to go West to East!

The entrance was magnificent, and the Pacific side locks are so much more interesting then the Atlantic! Up to Gatun Lake gorgeous views, a little better on the "right" side of the ship, can't remember what it called

At the lake, they allowed only people who took ship tours to get on the tenders, go on tours if you want, you've seen the best part, you won't miss anything.

Our cruise was in January, it was hot on the Pacific side, very warm in the Atlantic. It was a repositioning cruise of RCCL from Los Angeles through Jamaica to Dominican Republic, and we loved this cruise!
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Jun 2nd, 2009, 04:05 PM
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Larry & Dayenu - thx a mint for the great replies!

Looks like we'll do a the full transit and West to East. This really helps narrow it down; there were too many options on Princess and after paging thru them repeatedly, I had no idea which ones to check out.

Larry, I'll definitely comb your TR! (Well, after I get to breath again - I have house guests for another 2 wks.)

enjoy-la!
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Jun 2nd, 2009, 04:13 PM
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Ha! My report is here too! (a drop of jealousy here LOL) Just not sure if it was posted as Dayenu or FainaAgain
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Jun 2nd, 2009, 04:17 PM
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I'm glad you found the replies useful. BTW we did west to east as well. Once you decide on the cruise please ask if you have any questions about the port stops. cheers, Larry
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Jun 23rd, 2009, 03:04 PM
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I finally booked the cruise! Its ports of call are:

- Cabo San Lucas
- Acapulco
- Huatulco
- Puntarenas
- Fuerte Amador
- Panama Canal
- Cartagena
- Oranjestad/Aruba

jacketwatch & Dayenu - I enjoyed reading your TRs (FainaAgain) - thx! Dayenu, we have a lot more ports in common.

We will explore every port: enjoy kakaying and snorkelling so getting to do either of those will be a treat. A canopy zip-line excursion will be in the cards as well. We likely will try to book private tours where possible. Any suggestions on doing this?

Enjoy-la!
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Jun 23rd, 2009, 03:10 PM
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Congratulations! I'll wave to you going from Florida to Belize while you'll be on your way from Panama to Aruba

Have you checked CruiseCritic? While this website is annoying, they do offer good advices. Sometimes
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Jun 24th, 2009, 08:09 AM
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Great news!! We embarked from ACA and found some great restaurants there. If you like coffee (I do!) try getting the Costa Rican peaberry in Puntarenas. Its an excellent brew. It sounds like you will have alot of fun. Cheers, Larry
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Jun 24th, 2009, 09:21 AM
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Dayenu - I'll be on the starboard side

Larry, I did read that part of your TR with interest. DH loves coffee so we will get some. Also I thought that that and some vanilla from Mexico would make nice souvenir gifts for family/friends. Were you able to bring back the coffee to the USA without any problems (i.e., declaring it on your customs form and being able to bring it back)? I'm asking as I'm a bit wary after I had some sealed, commercially pkg'd pork jerky confiscated last year upon my return from Macua.

Going to check out cruisecritic some more.

Enjoy-la!
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Jun 24th, 2009, 10:08 AM
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We brougth Blue Mountain and it didn't even cross my mind to declare! But we were well below the $$ limit.

By the way, everybody said this is great coffee.
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Jun 24th, 2009, 02:13 PM
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No problems. Coffee is pretty much as much as you like really. I don't know why packaged pork would have been taken. Maybe it was lunch time for the agent. Blue mountain is reputed to be the best in the world and stateside it goes for around $50.00 per pound or so. Just below that in cost and quality is pure 100% Kona from the BI of Hawaii. Just be careful to get the real deal. Two brands I know that are 100% pure blue mountain are Jablum and somethig from Mavis Banks, I forgot the exact name or label. Blue mountain has a smoothness that is unmatched and has no aftertaste. Pure Kona has a nutty taste and aroma that is superb and unique. The Costa Rican Peaberry is far less in cost but qualitatively is really close to the above two. Have fun and savor that brew. Larry
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Jun 25th, 2009, 07:35 AM
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Larry, thx a mint for your detailed reply - much appreciated!

I've copied it into my PC trip notes and will be sure to get some. I'm not a coffee drinker myself, but am familiar with Kona so that reference point was very helpful. The info you gave is fab as I know some "coffee snobs" who will definitely appreciate Costa Rican Peaberry.

Enjoy-la!
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Jun 25th, 2009, 09:59 AM
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Wow! You seem so stoked about this cruise. Its nice to see such anticipation. You'll have a blast. Cheers, Larry
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Feb 18th, 2010, 12:58 PM
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We are looking into a Panama Canal Cruise possibly in April and had a few questions for you PC well traveled folks. I see that a few folks recomend that the best direction to travel is from West-East, but why?? Please explain! Aren't the ports the same in the other direction on the same cruiseline?? Also, is it worth it to choose a cruise that stops @ Cristobal Pier to view the locks close up or is it just as great to only cruise through the Panama Canal?? Any feedback will be greatly appreciated!
Thanks so much!
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Feb 18th, 2010, 01:08 PM
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The best locks are on Pacific side, and in the morning people are more enthusiastic to see and to listen to the narration. If you are coming from Atlantic, you get tired and don't pay attention, so you miss the most interesting locks.

From Pacific you float on the river up to Gatun lake, after that there is not much to see, take a tour if you wish.

Ships coming from Atlantic do not stop at the lake and do not offer land/lake tours in Panama so the stops are not exactly the same.

At Cristobal you either take tours, or go off to the souvenir village - I recommend to get off even for short time to see local dancers and unusual souvenirs.
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Feb 18th, 2010, 01:13 PM
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Dayenu, thanks for your quick response!!! If you get off @ Cristobal do you miss anything that the folks that stay on the ship experience?? Any reason to stay on the ship instead of getting off??
Thanks again!!
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Feb 18th, 2010, 04:37 PM
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You go on a tour on the lake Gatun - get off on boats that take you on tours, or to your buses. The ship moves on after only tour people get off, and a few hours later all meet at the Cristobal stop.

We stayed on the ship just to have the 100% canal experience, and it would be better if we'd take a tour - we wouldn't miss anything. The last leg of the cruise after the lake was kinda boring.
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