Domed Train - Any Current Info?

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#1
Central Ohio
16,172 Posts
Joined May 2003
We have booked the domed train excursion in early March. The info available on the various cruise lines sites is very limited.

As I have pieced it together it appears that the train goes from the Atlantic to Pacific, the return is by bus, and there are no longer any stops along the way.

Would appreciate any current information about this tour.
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#2
135 Posts
Joined Aug 2001
We just got back from the Coral Princess Panama Canal and
We enjoyed this tour—learned about the history of the canal etc. The description of the tour indicated that we would only go one way on the train—this turned out to not be true. We ended up going both ways on the train (with a motor coach tour in between), which was fine with us.
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#3
Central Ohio
16,172 Posts
Joined May 2003
Thanks Miramar - The description on the Celebrity page was very limited. We knew from the Cruise Critic boards that this was an excursion we wanted (and we don't take a lot of excursions). But, I wanted to know if I was in for a 2 hour bus ride in Equatorial heat.

I understand that they no longer have a stop at the locks themselves. What does the bus tour portion consist of? Any opportunity to get off and look around, shop, photo ops?
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#4
135 Posts
Joined Aug 2001
Well on our tour, the bus portion consisted of a stop at the administration buliding for a photo op, a stop at the the pacific ocean with a view of panama city and another opportunity to also see the bridge of the americas. then we had about 30 min at a shopping mall to buy souvenirs. I belive there were also some views from the mall.
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#5
Michigan
38 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Hey 98, We're on the March 4 Horizon cruise. Coming from MIchigan with another couple to escape the snow. Are you going to the welcome party? I've just learned about signing up for it. Great! Love to meet the other cruisers. This is our 9 cruise and looking forward to the canal and costa rica. What are you doing for tours?
#6
Tacoma, WA
719 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
We took the dome car in early 2004 and had a fabulous day. On our tour the train went both ways & the narrator did a great job keeping us well informed not only of the canal's history but a lot about what is going on in Panama, especially since they took over the canal. For a large part of the trip the tracks run parallel to the canal so you get numerous opportunities to see ships in transit. Extremely intersting.

At the Pacific side we went to the Miraflores locks for about 45 minutes which was great. Then went through the older section of town and out on the causway after a stop to view the Bridge of the Americas.

It is a bit spendy but great value. Do it.

I should also point out that the train is extremely well restored and the tracks as smooth as any we have been on allowing the train to go at quite a nice speed. They are in top condition as multiple unit trains carrying shipping containers from one coast to the other. In some cases this is faster and cheaper than having the ship go through the canal but mostly because a lot of the newer ships are too big to go through.
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#7
Central Ohio
16,172 Posts
Joined May 2003
Thanks 65Cardinal

We have booked the domed train. Yes, pricey. But, while we have been to a number of ports multiple times, this will be our first time to Panama.

We figure when we go again it will be for a full transit so now is the time to do the train!

Charlie
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#8
Brentwood, Northern California
1,287 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
Our group booked the Dome Car today for our Coral Princess Cruise on April 7th. Please post a little review for us when you return - I think it will be great, but I would love to hear how you liked it!

My husband and I did a full transit of the canal on the Sun Princess a few years ago. Unforturnately for me - I spent the whole day sick in bed (except for a short visit to the ship's doctor because I thought I was dying!) We had been in Caracus, Venezula the day before and I ate a bunch of fruit at the cloud forest and it did me in! Anyway, the transit through the canal was great, from what I got to see from my death bed!

This time I am traveling with 3 of my girlfriends on a "girl's trip". I think we will really enjoy the train!

Have a great trip!

PS I was born in Dayton, Ohio - are you near there at all?
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#9
Fayetteville, GA, USA
764 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
Do you miss sailing in the Canal if you book the Panama Train Excursion? WIll be on the Coral Princess. Where and how do you get to/from the ship for this excursion? Thanks,
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#10
Central Ohio
16,172 Posts
Joined May 2003
We're back! And we had a great time.

The domed train has about 6 cars and will carry about 300. Only one is the Domed Car which seats 50.

The train runs from Colon to Panama City and back. When you arrive at Panama City there is a bus tour portion (included in the price). There was one shopping stop, one stop where you could see the Bridge of the Americas and Miraflores lock (from a distance but close enough for great pictures) and travel through several of the former US Military Bases.

The ride back included a light snack (included in the price) and the opportunity to purchase beverages. The tour is the same for everyone except for the view from the domed car.

We didn't go into one of the standard cars but IMO the domed car was WELL worth the extra money. The view was fantastic and I have no doubt that there were times when we were watching ships in the canal that the standard cars had little or no view at all.


Charlie
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#11
New Jersey
383 Posts
Joined Jan 2002
This is probably a silly question, but I'm interested in doing the Domed Car train ride while in Colon. How how do you request the glass enclosed car? Thanks for any help!
#12
Central Ohio
16,172 Posts
Joined May 2003
Originally posted by fm519
This is probably a silly question, but I'm interested in doing the Domed Car train ride while in Colon. How how do you request the glass enclosed car? Thanks for any help!
We reserved ours through the cruise line excursions (Celebrity). We did it online about 2 months before the sailing.

When we got on the ship I went to the excursions desk the first morning just to check and the domed train was sold out. The domed car was at capacity but it was not crowded.

Charlie
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#14
Central Ohio
16,172 Posts
Joined May 2003
The train had a total of 6 or 7 cars, one of which was the domed car.

The remainder looked very nice with large windows. We didn't go into them but it appeared that they had seating at tables next to the windows.

The domed car is much taller than the others. After you enter the car you walk up maybe 8 or 10 steps to the seating area. There are rows of tables that seat four each on both sides of the cars. Because of the elevation of the car, I believe that the view and opportunity to see more of the canal makes it very worthwhile.

I would certainly try to book in advance. What ship are you going on and when?

Charlie
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#15
Brentwood, Northern California
1,287 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
We will be in the domed car. Is there a better side to sit on?
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#16
Central Ohio
16,172 Posts
Joined May 2003
joyride

I really don't think that there is a bad seat in the car. When boarding, the side of the car that is facing the station loading platform will be the side that is closest to the canal. When you walk up the stairs in the car that would be the left side.

We went all the way back and sat at the last table on the left side. A group of four came up and most of the seats were filled. We offered to sit elswhere so that they could sit together. On the right side there is a bench seat that has you sitting facing the canal with your back to the "land" portion. We really enjoyed the ride that way.

When we got off in Panama City the guide asked that we take all of our belongings with us and said that it would be open seating upon the return. (Meaning open seating for those of us in the domed car, not that people from the other cars would be able to use the domed car.) However, it seemed that everyone just went back to their original seats for the return trip. The boxed lunch is a light snack with a bottled water. Soda, beer, etc. was available for purchase.

Charlie
#17
Central Ohio
16,172 Posts
Joined May 2003
Here is a photo taken from our seats on the train. The canal is not always as close as this but it's a great trip.

Charlie
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#18
GA, USA
80 Posts
Joined Aug 2000
Can anyone say from experience with carnival, ...
how can you ask for a domed car prior to getting there so that I can make sure that I have a domed car seat and not gambling on whether or not it is available for us. We are cruising on the Legend 12/2 and want to do the train ride along the canal.

Thanks for the information!

Kevin
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#19
Charleston, SC
4,300 Posts
Joined Apr 2004
I cannot speak for Carnival but for Royal Caribbean it is considered a separate tour. For us it says something like "Ocean to Ocean, Dome Car". We are going Feb 23 and am still waiting for the "Dome Car" to appear. Hope this helps.
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#20
1 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
We were on the Carnival Liberty in April of 2006 and took the train excursion. We did not have the opportunity to sign up in advance for the domed car. We ended up getting it, but it seemed to be completely random based on when our bus arrived at the train station. We did not pay anything extra.

Based on the messages above, it sounds like other cruise lines allow you to reserve the domed car in advance, I don't know if Carnival has since changed its policy.