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Trying to find the right Panama Canal Cruise

Trying to find the right Panama Canal Cruise

Sep 14th, 1999, 01:59 AM
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Trying to find the right Panama Canal Cruise

My husband and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary in April 2001. We can not decide on a mega-ship or a small ship. Any ideas from past cruisers? Any cruise lines to avoid? What to look for in a cruise itinerary?
Sep 14th, 1999, 08:13 PM
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I think the itinerary depends on you. I was interested in seeing some of Central America; others might prefer Caribbean Island beaches. Actually you can have a little of both. Some itineraries include S. American ports but I've not heard good reports on these.

Do you want to explore on your own, hike, shop or relax on a beach? In some ports where safety or distance is an issue, you will likely want to take a tour. We found the tours very worthwhile, but I wouldn't want to do them every day! They also add to expenses. For instance, a trip to see Tikal in Guatemala was a few hundred dollars.

I chose between Holland America and Princess Cruises. I'm sure others are good as well. (Carnival wasn't on my list.)

So first I would narrow down the cruise lines, then figure out which port stops if any are important to you and find out about price. Big ships and small each have their merits so that's a tough decision. You can always take one type now and the other later. As for megaships - do they fit through the locks?

Sep 17th, 1999, 09:42 AM
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Jean: We are going on a 10th anniversary trip on RCL Visions thru canal from Acupulco to San Juan 11-27-99 (11 nights). While we are sure to expect an "older crowd" (we are 30's-40's), we also expect fewer children...if you will e-mail me with a reminder note, i will certainly let you know how the trip went. this will be our 2nd cruise, and we are spending D category, 1st class air from IAD to Acupulco, with 3 nights pre-cruise at Hyatt, and 2 nights post-cruise at Ritz Carlton, with coach return. Alot of $$, but my advice would be to spend a little more than what you think you can afford, since you don't have a 25th every day/year!!!

April is right...the itinerary is just as important as the ship...we did not want to visit Caracas...so we stop in Costa Rica for 12 hours, Aruba, Curacao, St. Thomas then into San Juan, with I think 5 days on-board...not a lot of island hopping, but a chance to re-charge and re-group...our first cruise was on Carnival W. Carib on Imagination, a nice ship, too many children, during Thanksgiving week..never again at that time. We're looking to see a difference in guests and food. Good luck in deciding!!!
Sep 17th, 1999, 10:21 PM
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There was definitely an older crowd on the Holland America cruise we took (and few children). I just wanted to mention, Barbara, that the guided nature hike we did in Costa Rica was fantastic, so I highly recommend it if you're interested in that sort of thing.
Sep 18th, 1999, 03:18 AM
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April and Barbara's advice are worth noting. We took RCI's Legend through the canal in '97. We loved the cruise. However, we should have taken the 11 night cruise deparking in San Juan instead of Acapulco. The transfers and waiting for our flight in Acapulco were dreadful. Our friends took Vision through the canal - and the locks [April is correct...a few mega ships are too large to fit through the locks..a big disappointment if you want that experience--and it is wonderful].Have you cruised in the past or is this your first cruise? We are sailing Windstar cruises in March, but I am not sure I would sail a smaller ship on a Panama Canal cruise, as some of the ports of the smaller ships, in my opinion, do not seems as 'safe'as the larger ships.

Note to Barbara:
You will love this cruise. We had a cabin w/balcony on Legend [now Vision sails the canal]. We had dinner w/the captain prior to the canal crossing. He encouraged us to be on deck as we arrived [it was very early, and worth it]. After the a few hours, you can go back to your cabin and sit on balcony. Turn the speaker 'on' and listen to the description[s] of where you are and what you are seeing. It is very hot at that time, and it was nice to put our feet up. Pack binoculars,wear lots of sunscreen and a hat and drink tons of water, as it is very hot. It was a cruise we'll always remember. We thought the cruise would atttract an older group and were very surprised that there was a good showing of 30 and 40 year olds!
Happy anniversary and Bon Voyage!

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