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Old December 30th, 2005, 01:12 AM
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Question Question Concerning The Railroad Tour?

Ok, there are 2 railroad ocean to ocean tours listed for the Canal. One says Dome Car,one does not. They are both 5hrs long,and leave at the same time. However,there is a price difference of $30 pp,for the Dome Car.The regular train excursion tells you what all you'll do,and get to see,including a bus ride to a military base and the Canal Zone. The Dome Car,doesn't say any of this,just tells you,you'll experience the journey in a refurbished,air-conditioned rail car. I'm assuming this is all the same train,but for the extra $30,you get to sit in a Dome car,rather than just have a regular train window to look out from? Am I correct? Does anyone know if the regular train cars are NOT air-conditioned? Has anyone taken this tour? If so,which type car did you ride,and how did you enjoy it? Any info will be greatly appreciated. Thanks
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  #2  
Old December 30th, 2005, 11:01 AM
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The Dome Car is part of the same Tour as the regular cars. There is just one dome car in the train; so they charge extra for it. All cars are air-conditioned.

We took the "Dome Car" version three years ago and at that time there was one other difference between the two tours. When we arrived at the Pacific end of the train ride we all boarded buses for a 2 - 3 hour tour of the area (Mira Flores Locks, Bridge of the Americas, etc.). Our bus (all the Dome Car passengers) went in the reverse order as all the other tour buses (~200 people), so when stopped at a particular location it was just us (~50) not 250.

If this is still true, this is reason enough to spend the extra money and go with the Dome Car Tour.

Great tour by the way; probably my favorite to date.
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Old December 30th, 2005, 03:24 PM
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Thanks sptrout,for answering my question's. I have 1 more. If you're on a bus tour,after the train,for a 2-3 hr tour,how long is the train ride itself?

Has anyone been on this tour more recently than 3 years ago? Has it changed any,from sptrout's experience? Thanks
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Old December 30th, 2005, 04:20 PM
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The tour is about 1/2 train and 1/2 bus time. Note that a large portion of the bus time (45 minutes or so) is actually spent at the Mira Flores Locks so the bus time is not as much as it may seem.
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Old December 30th, 2005, 06:24 PM
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Boy how things have changed..........the train cars are air conditioned now? Last time I was in Panama, they weren't......of course this train tour didn't exist then......the train then was just for transportation. I saw on the internet that there is a visitor center at Miraflores Locks? When I was there, it was a small parking lot and you could walk right up to the side of the locks...no visitor center then....right across the street was Ft. Clayton Army base (where I got so sick in a Burger King Whopper eating contest)........Ahhh.......Panama was so fun as a teenager........no minimum drinking age......Those were the days...
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Old December 30th, 2005, 11:50 PM
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Thanks Sptrout for all your help. Is there a lot of walking on this tour?
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Old January 1st, 2006, 05:56 PM
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We did the dome car last month (Dec.) It is well worth the extra $30. The dome car is one of the cars on the train. The car is very comfortable. They have young women who sell water, snack items. etc. There is a small box type lunch provided. Not a lot but will hold you over until you get back to the Lido. Suggest you make your reservations as soon as possible on the HAL web site as space goes fast. We were told space is booked three or four months in advance.
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 09:37 AM
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When we did the train tour in Panama we were on the dome car - loved it.
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Old January 6th, 2006, 05:26 PM
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Thanks everyone,you convinced me. I booked the Dome car tour. I'm looking forward to it now. No one answered my question,if there is a lot of walking along with this tour? They have that warning at the bottom,that there may be walking over rough terrain,and also some prolonged standing. Is there??
I seem to see that warning at the bottom of a lot of the tours,so thought maybe they put it there,just in case or something. Cheryl
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Old January 14th, 2006, 03:53 PM
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GranysT,

I'm sorry for the late response, but I just returned this morning from a two week vacation in Hawaii. This answer may to be too late, but there is very little walking required for this tour. A little walking around the Mira Flores Locks area; that is about it as far as I can remember. I think the cruise lines get a little conservative on their descriptions of the amount of activity required for their tours. Probably just being cautious.
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  #11  
Old January 14th, 2006, 04:01 PM
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Thanks Sptrout,a just being cautious warning,was what I was hoping for. Glad you took the time to come back again,I really appreciate it.

How was your trip to Hawaii? I was there 8 year ago on a land trip. I just got to see Honolulu and Maui. Absolutely loved Maui. I have a cruise to Hawaii booked for April 2007. Figgured that would be the easiest way to get to visit some of the other islands,even if they are "short" visits.
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Old January 14th, 2006, 05:30 PM
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Hi GranysT,

We had a great time in Hawaii; thanks for asking. This was my fifth trip to Hawaii having visited the four main islands all at least twice (the Big Island three times). I have never done a cruise in Hawaii, but agree that it would be a great way to see each island.

I am not a big fan of Oahu, way too commercial and crowded, but my wife wanted to see Pearl Harbor this trip so we spend four days there and then nine days on the Big Island. We did find a very, very nice hotel (J.W. Marriott) on Oahu that is about 25 miles west of Honolulu, so we were able to get away from the city.
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Old January 15th, 2006, 12:36 AM
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sptrout, I feel the same as you about Oahu. It's another large city,albeit next to a beach. I was told when I was there,that 80 percent of the people in Hawaii,live on Oahu. Naturally,that is where the work is. We spent 3 days there and 4 in Maui,when we took our 1st trip. We stayed busy in both places,for sure. In Oahu we spent a day at the Cultural Center,that was great. We saw a show with Don Ho,also great. Of course we took a tour to see the Arizona. That was so awesome,and inspiring. Amazing that oil is still rising there,after 65 years. It's like they're saying "Never Forget". We didn't have the time to go to the North Shore and see the Pipe Stem,where the huge surf waves are. We'll be in Honolulu overnight,on the cruise,so I definately will see it then. One of the things we did in Maui was take a bus tour up the mountain,to see the sunrise over the top of the volcano crater. I will never forget that. Awesome sight.
What have you seen and done on the big island? Not sure I really want to tramp around a "live volcano",did you do that? What else is there to see and do? Thanks for any info. Cheryl
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Old January 15th, 2006, 12:10 PM
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GranysT,

As I mentioned, I have been to the Big Island three times now mainly because of wanting revisit Volcano National Park (VNP). It has to be one of the most unforgettable places on our planet. You can easily spend the day there just driving around in your car; much more time if you are into hiking. The "Chain of Craters Road" is a spectacular 20-mile drive that you will never forget. We to have driven up the big volcano in Maui also, but VNP is a very different experience. Hard to explain why, but it is like apples & oranges, both fruit, but very different. Also, remember that the volcanoes in Hawaii are not the explosive - Mt. St. Helens type, so there is very little danger unless you wonder-off to places that are blocked-off.

Besides VNP, the Big Island lives-up to its nickname in that you have to do a lot of driving to see the entire island. You can find everything from deserts to rain forests, beaches to mountains (two nearly 14,000 feet and sometimes snow-capped). We have driven most of the non-4WD required roads now, including the most of the infamous "Saddle Road," and there always seems to be something new to see.

It is always difficult decision to pick which islands to visit when we go to Hawaii. Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii, are all great places to visit and I recommend that everyone try to see them all at least once.
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Old January 16th, 2006, 04:03 AM
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Yes, Kauai is another island I'm dying to see. I really appreciate all the info about the big island. Cheryl
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"HAPPY SAILS TO YOU"
Mardi Gras 07/89
Sensation 04/00
Victory 04/01
Majesty Of The Seas 06/01
Pride 04/02
Fascination 07/02
Sovereign Of The Seas 04/03
Victory 08/03
Mariner Of The Seas 04/04
Victory 06/04
Grandeur Of The Seas 07/05
Triumph 08/05
Brilliance Of The Seas 04/06
Destiny,with the Island Cruiser's 06/06
Inspiration 12/06
Elation 02/07
Across U.S. And Back , Land Cruise 03/29-6/11/07
Spirit to Hawaii 04/15/07
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Mariner Of The Seas 04/08
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Independence Of The Seas 04/20/14
Pride 02/22/15
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