what can i expect on transit day

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#1
Long Island, N.Y.
896 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
im doing my first full transit of the panama canal from east to west in early may, with no stops in or near the canal. it seams from reading this board that i would need to get up very early to get a good spot on the ship for an"ideal view." how long will the transit take? is there a lecture type course offered in a lounge as we transit? any suggestions or advice on what to do during or trip through the canal?
for me canal day is the big "get" of the entire 17 day cruise
any thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
see my countdown clock for cruise line and ship, also im in a port side balcony if that makes any difference either way
thanx
#2
Petaluma, Ca. 94954
27,628 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Yes, you want to be up early, and at the bow, if NCL allows that. Something to research on the NCL board. While you are over there, ask what NCL provides, but pre transit lectures and info is common. Plus there will be a narrative by a Canal tour guide, while in the Canal.

Your cabin will allow you some viewing, but the bow is the best for lock operations, and you will want to see all around at times.
#3
Florida
5,259 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
With most passenger ships going in your direction will arrive at the Cristobal breakwater by around 5AM. You could be up to the first locks, Gatun around a little after 6. Of course the times can slip some but as CruiserBruce suggested if NCL permits access to the bow, you will need to be there early.

As far as the time for the Canal transit, from the time you arrive at the Cristobal breakwater until the time you leave the Pacific entrance, that could run 12 hours or so. From the first lock at Gatun until you clear the last lock at Miraflores probably 7-9 hours. After clearing Gatun Locks in the morning, this starts your crossing of Gatun Lake and begins more of the scenic portion of your transit and probably would be a good time for your breakfast. Generally speaking there is narration provided in the open deck/public areas and on your cabin TV, sometimes it may be provide in house or narrators brought on at the Canal. Either one should give you a good idea of what's is happening and some history as well.

At the Canal, if I had to pick a side of the ship, I would choose the port side in the direction you are going. There may be just a wee bit more to see, but please don't homestead the old balcony.... you will only see half the Canal! It is easy to position yourself so that you can readily take in whatever is of interest.
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#4
St Ives, England
2,154 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
Originally posted by DAVECHIPP1974
im doing my first full transit of the panama canal from east to west in early may, with no stops in or near the canal. it seams from reading this board that i would need to get up very early to get a good spot on the ship for an"ideal view." how long will the transit take? is there a lecture type course offered in a lounge as we transit? any suggestions or advice on what to do during or trip through the canal?
for me canal day is the big "get" of the entire 17 day cruise
any thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
see my countdown clock for cruise line and ship, also im in a port side balcony if that makes any difference either way
thanx
Hi Dave

I'm very happy to plug Richard's book 'Cruising the Panama Canal as it's the perfect accompaniment to the journey through the canal. Wish it had been around before I did mine in 2007 !

I don't know that you have to get up VERY early for that ideal view - these Panamax ships have plenty of great viewing areas from the top decks, and in any case you'd want to move around quite a bit over the 8-10 hours of the transit. From memory I got up on deck as we entered the Amador Causeway and saw all I wanted. As I did not go back to my cabin at all so personally I would not make that a factor in choosing a cabin.

I read TPBTS before my trip and here's my shot at summarising the 'story' in 17 minutes :

YouTube - THE HISTORY OF THE PANAMA CANAL (Part 1 of 2)
(Pacific Ocean- Culebra/Gaillard Cut)

YouTube - THE HISTORY OF THE PANAMA CANAL (Part 2 of 2)
(Culebra/Gaillard Cut - the Atlantic Ocean/Caribbean Sea)

It was one of the best days of my life, hope you enjoy it as much as I did,
Tony
#5
Long Island, N.Y.
896 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
thank you for your responses, im even more excited now.
richard in panama, is your book available as an e-book? i cant seam to find it in my nook. perhaps i'll go old-school for the cruise

great youtube link as well, thanx
#6
San Diego
791 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
We just got back from a Panama Canal Cruise - East to West. It was an incredible experience. I got on deck by 4:45 AM when the pilot and linemen were expected to get on the ship. It was pitch dark and there was a full moon. I found it fascinating to watch it get lighter out and figure out what I was looking at.

We stood in the front of the ship going through the Gatun Locks, then had breakfast on our balcony as we sailed Gatun Lake. The rest of the time we moved around the ship on the open decks - for Mira Flores we were on the Promenade Deck and experienced being eye level with the lock walls. It was also exciting seeing them build the new locks. Other times at the back of the ship. Which side of the ship you stand on also depends on which lane you are in. All vantage points were great - just don't spend the entire day in one spot.

As others have said, move around - the experience is different from different vantage points. I hope to go back when the new locks are open. Although they are scheduled to open in 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the canal, there is skepticism that the locks will be done by then.
#7
Boise, Idaho
217 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by RSF Cruiser
Although they are scheduled to open in 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the canal, there is skepticism that the locks will be done by then.
Yep, the workers in the Canal area walked off the job last week and are still on strike. They want higher wages (and who doesn't). The whole project is behind even though the Panamanian government is reporting that they are on schedule.
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#8
St. Paul MN
2,926 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Booked my upcoming full transit for exactly the trip through the canal.

Thanks for all the advise. Plan to read both books before the cruise.
It will be a perfect Christmas gift. We do the transit on Christmas Eve 2012 on the Celebrity Century.
#9
Knighton Wales
529 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Originally posted by DAVECHIPP1974
thank you for your responses, im even more excited now.
richard in panama, is your book available as an e-book? i cant seam to find it in my nook. perhaps i'll go old-school for the cruise

great youtube link as well, thanx
Take a look at Amazon found the kindle version there
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#10
Vancouver, Wa.
23,833 Posts
Joined Apr 2002
Originally posted by Cornishpastyman1
Hi Dave

I'm very happy to plug Richard's book 'Cruising the Panama Canal as it's the perfect accompaniment to the journey through the canal. Wish it had been around before I did mine in 2007 !

I don't know that you have to get up VERY early for that ideal view - these Panamax ships have plenty of great viewing areas from the top decks, and in any case you'd want to move around quite a bit over the 8-10 hours of the transit. From memory I got up on deck as we entered the Amador Causeway and saw all I wanted. As I did not go back to my cabin at all so personally I would not make that a factor in choosing a cabin.

I read TPBTS before my trip and here's my shot at summarising the 'story' in 17 minutes :

YouTube - THE HISTORY OF THE PANAMA CANAL (Part 1 of 2)
(Pacific Ocean- Culebra/Gaillard Cut)

YouTube - THE HISTORY OF THE PANAMA CANAL (Part 2 of 2)
(Culebra/Gaillard Cut - the Atlantic Ocean/Caribbean Sea)

It was one of the best days of my life, hope you enjoy it as much as I did,
Tony
Thanks for the links on youtube! We cruise on Fri., so excited!
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#12
Vancouver, BC Canada
996 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Did the full transit west to east on the NCL Pearl last fall and it was very interesting. The Pearl brought onboard a canal expert who narrated the crossing over the ships PA system. I was on deck from 6am-4pm (other than meals).
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#13
Whittier, CA
756 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
I love cruise critic, it is great reading about my upcoming adventure through the Canal, I am going April 2013, East to West. I am going to overload my brain with all of this wonderful information. Thank you for sharing!!!
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Teri
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#14
Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama
1,193 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
I'm very happy to plug Richard's book 'Cruising the Panama Canal as it's the perfect accompaniment to the journey through the canal. Wish it had been around before I did mine in 2007 !
Gee, thank you for the plug! The reason WHY I wrote the book is to help folks get the most out of their Canal adventure.

richard in panama, is your book available as an e-book? i cant seam to find it in my nook.
Sorry, I've been off on the high seas and with the shipboard "Internet" and the costs of those carrier pigeons they use to carry your Internet packets back and forth to the ship, I can't follow CC while I'm on board. The book is available on Amazon and Kindle, unfortunately not nook yet.

Regards, Richard
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Richard Detrich - Port & Canal Lecturer & Author
#15
Washington State
2,810 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
The Port Lecturer on our Panama Canal cruise had this interesting slide. It showed what to expect on the transit day. It's a pretty accurate guide to how the day goes. This shows a full transit southbound, from the Atlantic (Caribbean) side to the Pacific side.


Coral Princess by Jasperdo, on Flickr
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