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View Full Version : Monkey Watch & Nature Cruise w/Princess - or any other line?


mlbcruiser
January 10th, 2009, 12:19 PM
Has anyone does this excursion? It's listed as being a "high speed" 90 min. cruise to/around the islands of Gatun Lake. There is another, similar-sounding excursion called an Eco Cruise of Gatun Lake.

Questions: Are the "islands" and Gatun Lake all that scenic?
What about insects?
Did YOU see much wildlife? (Esp. the monkeys!)

Thanks for any replies.

Grimsby
January 21st, 2009, 10:48 PM
"There is another, similar-sounding excursion called an Eco Cruise of Gatun Lake."

If I understand correctly, the Gatun Lake Eco Tour, (at least as advertised on Celebrity's web site), is the same tour we took in December 2007 during our week long vacation in Panama. Again, if it's the same tour then I highly recommend it. We started out in large 20 - 25 ft open boats and toured the bays and inlets of Gatun lake. Our guides were well informed and explained both the ecological aspects and the effects of the Panama Canal on the region. We encountered alligators, and other wildlife, but the highlight of the tour was a stop at a wild monkey colony where these "guys" actually hopped on board the boats and were hand fed bananas, grapes etc. I suspect that the monkeys had been conditioned over the years to expect food when these particular boats appeared. Nevertheless, it was and entertaining and educational experience. Built into the tour was a stop for lunch, included in the price, at a houseboat moored in one of the bays. On the return trip, we saw a number of ships in transit through the Canal. Hope this helps, and that I haven't steered you wrong. Please confirm what you are getting before signing up.

mlbcruiser
January 21st, 2009, 11:36 PM
Grimsby, your excursion sounds like a lot of fun! I bet it's the same one. Hmmm, makes it tough. It's not written in stone, but I think we are planning to do the one to Panama City now. I read that it has won some type of award for being a very good excursion. Yet I would so like to see the monkey! And having lunch in a houseboat would certainly be new for us! At any rate, thanks for replying and if we don't do this one, perhaps someone else will read this and go for it.

It's tough to pick an excursion when going partially through the canal. We even would enjoy staying on the ship going back out of the canal, I think. (That would be easier on me since I HATE waking up early for anything - on a ship or off!)

Thanks so much for replying.

born2cruize
January 23rd, 2009, 02:05 AM
We did this tour in May 08 during our 19 day on the Island Princess. Great tour, see some pictures on my site below at Panama Canal, then select Fuerte Amador. It will answer a lot of your questions. But our tour only included a box lunch though it was taste.

out2sea
January 29th, 2009, 06:05 PM
Thanks for sharing your pix! I am going in April...cannot wait! How fast did the boats go.....the monkey excursion sounds interesting!

born2cruize
January 29th, 2009, 06:46 PM
I'm not a good judge of boat speeds but the one picture of our companion boat should give you an idea by how much of the boat is out of the water.

mlbcruiser
January 29th, 2009, 06:46 PM
born2cruize, what am I doing wrong? Your post says:

see some pictures on my site below at Panama Canal, then select Fuerte Amador.

Where do I find your site? I do not see links or anything in your post, but would love to see the pix!

Thanks!

born2cruize
January 29th, 2009, 06:54 PM
Look at he bottom of my signature it says something like My Photo Web Site. Click on the link.

If my signature doesn't show you may have a setting in the User CP site that says do not show signatures?

mlbcruiser
January 29th, 2009, 07:02 PM
Thanks for the fast reply! There is no signature showing, so I guess I need to change a setting. Can you tell me how to set whatever I need to set so it will show your signature? Thanks!

born2cruize
January 30th, 2009, 12:36 AM
Please bear with me as I am trying to get you the information. Up at the top you have "User CP", click on that which will bring up on the left hand side "Your Control Panel". Under Settings and Option is a link called "Edit Options". Click it. Scroll down to "Thread Display Options". Click it. The very first box is titled "Visible Post Elements". The very first check box is "Show Signatures". Put a check in the box and scroll down to SAVE CHANGES. Hopefully that should do it.

Remember that means that every post on this board will show their signature and the threads may be very long with all the signatures showing.

mlbcruiser
January 30th, 2009, 12:14 PM
THANK YOU SO MUCH, born2cruize!!!! I must have been on the edit page when I signed up on here years ago, but haven't seen it since. Anyway, I followed your directions and I GOT THE SIGNATURE LINE, saw the wonderful pictures, etc. (Now you have me thinking. . .don't know if I want to date myself by adding a list of my 23 cruises or not! Hopefully we will get a lot more in before we are retired - in just a few yrs. - and the money is tighter! :confused: ).

The monkey shot was adorable! Also, t was very pretty as you came into the canal so early. (I also enjoyed the other photos you have posted on your blog.) At home I don't turn in until the wee hours because I have always been a night owl. I rise and shine at 5 a.m. only if I have to catch a flight for a cruise or other fun trip! We will be going just half way in and coming from the Caribbean side, so other than the canal, our ports will be different form your's.

So glad you saw my orig. question and took the time to answer the rest as well!

out2sea
January 31st, 2009, 12:38 PM
Thanks, didn't look too rough! Loved the monkey pix : )

xcountry
February 5th, 2009, 11:57 PM
born2cruize--

was your tour listed as "eco-cruise: gatun lake" or "monkey watch & cruise" -- from Princess' listing its hard to tell what the difference may be...

thanks for the links to your photos.

born2cruize
February 6th, 2009, 01:01 AM
born2cruize--

was your tour listed as "eco-cruise: gatun lake" or "monkey watch & cruise" -- from Princess' listing its hard to tell what the difference may be...

thanks for the links to your photos.

This was Eco-Cruise On Gatun Lake & Miraflores Locks. We first went to Miraflores Locks. The problem was this was the first of May which is a national holiday, everyone and their grandmother was there. Then we drove to Gamboa to (I believe) the Rainforest Resort. After looking around a while we went down to the dock and boarded our boat. The description does not do the tour justice. They took us to 4 different islands within Gatun Lake. The first was were the Holler monkeys reside. They were all in the trees so I we saw was big black balls in the tree. (Photo on my site). We next went to an island that had a sloth in the tree. (If I had used my video camera it would have looked the same as my still camera :). Then to monkey island, I couldn't take pictures fast enough. I probably took 80 to 100 just on Monkey Island. Finally they took us to a place were the baby alligators were nested. I found that interesting as at first we thought it was just fallen leaves until they had us look closer and of course they brought one into the boat. We never saw the mother, but from what I understand she was probably watching us.

xcountry
February 6th, 2009, 11:35 AM
From your description -- I will try the "monkey watch" tour as it is the one that goes to "3 islands" -- plus the excursion is a little longer (5.5 vs. 3.5hrs).
Thanks for your help!

born2cruize
February 6th, 2009, 06:24 PM
From your description -- I will try the "monkey watch" tour as it is the one that goes to "3 islands" -- plus the excursion is a little longer (5.5 vs. 3.5hrs).
Thanks for your help!

I imagine the two cruises are pretty similar. Since ours started from Fuerto Amador and included Miraflores locks and I'm assuming that since yours is starting from Gatun Lake you won't be wasting that much time going to meet your boat. Since I'm no longer booked for the Panama Canal I can only look at the general Princess tours and I don't see a Monkey tour. In fact I can only see tours from Fuerto Amador.

Enjoy your tour. I think you'll be excited when they start jumping into your boat. PS. Try and get a seat in the first few rows. Although I could imagine that if your a photographer the first few seats may be too close.

xcountry
February 6th, 2009, 08:22 PM
Thanks for the tip --will try to push our way to the front rows;)!

Again, thanks for your help (and I loved your photo of the sloth!)!

xcountry
April 18th, 2009, 05:59 PM
For anyone out there wondering about the two excursions offered on the Princess partial transit of the canal- "monkey watch" vs. "eco-cruise":

We took the "monkey watch" excursion on our April 3, 2009 Island Princess cruise. After the transit through the Gatun Locks, the ship anchors in Gatun Lake (it was around 8:30a on our trip, so yes you do go through early!). We tendered to shore around 9a and took a bus to Gamboa (midway in the canal). The bus ride was 1-1/2 hours long and the shocks on the bus were poor, so all of us were pretty well shaken up on the ride (we asked to get moved to another bus, which was half empty). We stopped at the Gamboa rainforest resort for some punch and a bathroom stop. After reboarding the bus, we were taken to look at the resort's butterfly exhibit, fish tanks, and reptile house(not exactly what anyone wanted) -- our take on it was that the boats were not back from a morning excursion. When the boats did return (around 12:30p), we were taken out of the Chagres River into the canal to look for monkeys -- a 20 minute ride to some islands where we did see Capuchin monkeys and howler monkeys. No sloths. After about 30 minutes of watching/looking for monkeys, it was another 20 minute ride back to the resort and then another 1-1/2 hour ride back to Colon. By the time we returned it was close to 4p. Comparing notes with other passengers who took the eco-cruise: no long bus ride, monkeys and sloths within 10 minutes of getting on their boats.

Our feeling was that it was not worth it at all to go to Gamboa for the amount of time spent looking for wildlife and that you could get the same experience on the shorter trip (which also includes a tour of the Gatun Locks). If anyone has any questions, I will check back on this thread.

born2cruize
April 21st, 2009, 01:27 AM
For anyone out there wondering about the two excursions offered on the Princess partial transit of the canal- "monkey watch" vs. "eco-cruise":

We took the "monkey watch" excursion on our April 3, 2009 Island Princess cruise. After the transit through the Gatun Locks, the ship anchors in Gatun Lake (it was around 8:30a on our trip, so yes you do go through early!). We tendered to shore around 9a and took a bus to Gamboa (midway in the canal). The bus ride was 1-1/2 hours long and the shocks on the bus were poor, so all of us were pretty well shaken up on the ride (we asked to get moved to another bus, which was half empty). We stopped at the Gamboa rainforest resort for some punch and a bathroom stop. After reboarding the bus, we were taken to look at the resort's butterfly exhibit, fish tanks, and reptile house(not exactly what anyone wanted) -- our take on it was that the boats were not back from a morning excursion. When the boats did return (around 12:30p), we were taken out of the Chagres River into the canal to look for monkeys -- a 20 minute ride to some islands where we did see Capuchin monkeys and howler monkeys. No sloths. After about 30 minutes of watching/looking for monkeys, it was another 20 minute ride back to the resort and then another 1-1/2 hour ride back to Colon. By the time we returned it was close to 4p. Comparing notes with other passengers who took the eco-cruise: no long bus ride, monkeys and sloths within 10 minutes of getting on their boats.

Our feeling was that it was not worth it at all to go to Gamboa for the amount of time spent looking for wildlife and that you could get the same experience on the shorter trip (which also includes a tour of the Gatun Locks). If anyone has any questions, I will check back on this thread.

xcountry, Welcome back. I find it interesting that your tour left from the same boat launch as ours and I assumed the same operator but your tour sounded entirely different from ours. Of course the big different was that we started from the Pacific side while yours traveled from Gatun Lake half-way across to Gamboa.

clarka
October 25th, 2010, 08:37 PM
We are also debating between these 3 excursions. We really want to see monkeys, but it sounds like there is a lot of wasted time traveling to Gamboa for the Monkey Watch tour (thanks xcountry for your input).

The Gatun Lake Eco Cruise sounds nice but maybe a bit short overall.

The tour that Grimsby describes sounds like the Gatun Lake Safari tour. I think that his may be my first choice after reading your threads. Thanks

Richard in Panama
October 25th, 2010, 09:31 PM
I've posted some pics of the Gatun Lake Safari tour. It is a really great tour! http://panamacanalblog.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/gatun-lake-wildlife-safari/

Most of the things you want to see in Panama aren't right next to the port, so it means a drive.

xcountry: Of course everyone would like to be in the front, but it's really not necessary to push your way to the front rows.

Regards, Richard

clarka
October 26th, 2010, 05:35 PM
Thanks for the link Richard, I enjoyed your write up and pictures! The safari looks like a great tour. Other than lunch on the houseboat, do you think that the 3.5 hour Gatun Lake Eco cruise would be as good? Let me know what you think!

EdSails
October 29th, 2010, 02:07 PM
We did the Monkey Watch Excursion just a few weeks after Xcountry did. True, the bus ride was long, but the boats were awesome. They go probably up to 20 knots and seat 20 people. It's really something to go past the large ships in something like that. The Gamboa Lodge was beautiful with an awesome view. When we got to the islands the monkeys came right down to the boats to check us out.