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You don't have as much choice as to when, even less if you've chosen a cruise line. Most ships sail through when repositioning. In April, westbound, heading to Alaska. In Sept or Oct, eastbound, going back to Florida. There are some at other times, but these are the main times.
Celebrity Galaxy 11/04
Grand Princess 2/06
Carnival Conquest 10/06
Celebrity Mercury to Alaska 9/07 very cool - literally!
Vegas, baby! 11/08
NCL Spirit 1/09, where everybody knew my name (which was strange and a little fun at the same time)
NCL Pearl 3/10
HAL Oosterdam 5/2011, back to Alaska we went!
RCCL Mariner OTS 3/2012 - another 1st!
NCL Star 12/2012 - more firsts!
NCL Jewel 12/2013 - Christmas on the water
NCL Jewel 11/2014 - and a few more firsts!
NCL Sun 5/2015 - North to Alaska, this time into Denali!
Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
Westbound is best if you like your cruise to last the longest time possible. Westbound cruises are 6 hours
longer (1/4 of a day) than Eastbound cruises. Why? Because going west you set the clock back a total of three
hours (+3 hours to your cruise) while going east you set the clock forward a total of three hours (-3 hours to your
cruise). Combined the difference is 6 hours in cruise time. Maybe not a critical decision factor but for the very
serious cruiser it could be.
Last edited by Cruz-OR; March 26th, 2013 at 11:20 PM.
In addition to the Alaska repositioning cruises mentioned earlier, Princess, HAL, Celebrity and to a lesser extent RCI offer Canal cruises throughout late fall and winter. In addition to those cruises Princess and HAL also offer what is know as a partial Canal cruise during that same time period. Even though a full Canal transit cruise is preferable, the partial transit cruise has one distinct advantage which is it is a round trip cruise. This eliminates the need for open jaw airline tickets, generally simplifying your transportation needs before and after the cruise.
As far as direction through the Canal..... that is equally rewarding in either direction. Most people's preferences of direction are based on their travel plans fitting into getting to the embarkation port and getting home after the cruise. Whatever works the best for you.
If you are going to make your decision based solely on weather alone, the best time of the year generally is January through late February. The heat and humidity are about the best it is going to get. Don't worry it will still seem very warm to someone that is from a temperate climate. That time period is also in the Dry Season and the foliage will still be very lush. Just don't forget that Dry Season in that part of the world doesn't mean no rain... just less rain! In a practical sense rain should not be much of an issue whatsoever during the Dry Season which runs from late December through April. The differences are really slight from the other times that Canal transit cruises are available and I would only use it as the very last (maybe least) deciding factor.
"If the phone doesn't ring, it's me!"
"Is it ignorance or is it apathy? ... I don't know and I don't care!"
S.S. Badger R/T from Manitowoc June 02