Panama Canal in November-December

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#1
Chicago, IL
477 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Hi All,

We're contemplating taking the 15 day Panama Canal cruise in November next year. I've noticed that the prices are less than half of what they are in Feb-Mar. (Mind you I'm wokring from THIS year's schedule as next year's isn't out yet). This seems odd to me as the cheapest one seems to be over Thanksgiving, when I assumed the prices would be higher.

Has anyone sailed the Canal at this time of year that could give insight on the price disparity? Is it the weather that time of year? The fact that it's right before the holidays?

I'm confuzzed.
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DAVID




Navigator of the Seas - Caribbean - February 2010
Sea Princess - Scandinavia - July 2008
Carnival Celebration - Bahamas - Christmas 2007
Golden Princess - S. Caribbean - April 2006
#2
Florida
5,453 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
There is some pretty good anecdotal evidence in the other thread about the weather in Panama in the November time frame. I can add that November is at the end of the rainy season and like the end of any season you can get all extremes. In general it starts to dry somewhat in November and on into December. The closer you are to December the better off you will be. In most cases you will not see an all day toad choker but that is not out of the realm of possibility.

As far as prices go the only thing I can say is fall is normally the cheapest time to take a cruise. The period between T-giving and Christmas have always been the least expensive of all. I guess people don't travel or at least cruise as much during that time. Of course at Christmas everyone is on vacation and then in January and beyond everyone is tired of winter!
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S.S. Badger R/T from Manitowoc June 02
#3
Southern California
634 Posts
Joined Oct 2002
Originally posted by Simru12
I've noticed that the prices are less than half of what they are in Feb-Mar.
The other thing to keep in mind is that Feb-Mar is peak season for the snowbirds to go somewhere warm to get out of the cold. hence the higher prices. That's true for Caribbean cruises also.
#4
Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama
1,194 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Then there is the fact that November is the tail end of the hurricane season . . . although Panama is outside the hurricane path, getting there could be interesting . . . and if there is a major tropical depression, expect a lot of rain. That being said, I happen to like cruising the Caribbean over Thanksgiving!! I've put some info on Panama Cruises on my blog, see below.

Regards, Richard
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Richard Detrich - Port & Canal Lecturer & Author
#5
4 Posts
Joined Nov 2007
We were thinking of the Panama Canal cruise in April 2010. When I was talking to the guy at "Funforless.com" he said that the 2010 schedule wasn't out yet and that it looks like, for some reason, very few ships will be doing that cruise in 2010. So we've decided on the Nov 1, 2009 trip out of San Diego and up to San Juan.
And, yes, we're a bit concerned about the weather in November.
Sharon in UT
#6
Florida
5,453 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
As far as the Canal is concerned you should not worry too much. Chances are the weather will be decent. As I mentioned in an earlier post, usually when it does rain it is not an all day affair. We made a full transit last November, November 4 to be exact, on a cruise from San Diego to FLL and we did have a little rain. It rained about a half hour just as we cleared Miraflores Locks and heading to Pedro Miguel Locks. The rain made getting a good viewing spot great and horrible if you wanted to go to the breakfast buffet! Cleared up after that and was a pretty pleasant day.

The only other thing that might cause you problems is November is still hurricane season in both the Pacific and Atlantic, (Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean included). While they don't really pose a threat to you, if a hurricane did develope it could cause you to drop a port of call. We had excellent weather throughout our early November cruise last year.
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S.S. Badger R/T from Manitowoc June 02
#7
78 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
Originally posted by BillB48
As far as the Canal is concerned you should not worry too much. Chances are the weather will be decent. As I mentioned in an earlier post, usually when it does rain it is not an all day affair. We made a full transit last November, November 4 to be exact, on a cruise from San Diego to FLL and we did have a little rain. It rained about a half hour just as we cleared Miraflores Locks and heading to Pedro Miguel Locks. The rain made getting a good viewing spot great and horrible if you wanted to go to the breakfast buffet! Cleared up after that and was a pretty pleasant day.

The only other thing that might cause you problems is November is still hurricane season in both the Pacific and Atlantic, (Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean included). While they don't really pose a threat to you, if a hurricane did develope it could cause you to drop a port of call. We had excellent weather throughout our early November cruise last year.
Two years ago, we found ourselves in a tropical storm on the Masdam in early December. Is this a likley possibility for the Decmber 3 Zuiderdam cruise?
Also, I'm not exactly a big fan of thrill rides. How comfortable is going through the Panama Canal and, as I asked in your own email, are we likely to spend a good deal of time in the Atlantic and would that likely be rougher than the Caribbean?
#8
Florida
5,453 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
I'm guessing the Dec. 3 sailing on the Zuiderdam is the Panama Canal partial transit, round trip from Ft. Lauderdale. You won't be in the Atlantic very much at all, that aside, if you are going to get rough weather the Caribbean (and the Gulf of Mexico) can supply more than you want! Even though hurricane season officially closes at the end of November, there can be some residual activity. I remember reading somewhere that there have been named tropical systems in every month of the year! Don't let that worry you however, I have had many cruises in that part of the world and on some pretty small ships and have had very few rough days.

As far as comfort in the Canal, your biggest problem maybe the heat and humidity. There is nothing to be concerned about as far movement of the ship, that all happens at a slow pace, particularly in the locks. On the partial transit you will go through Gatun Locks early in the morning, so the heat won't be a real big problem. The ship will clear the Locks and go to the Gatun Lake anchorage around 9..ish. Passengers will tender off the ship for tours, (optional) and then ship will go back through Gatun Locks and dock in Cristobal/Colon.

The partial transit cruise is a great cruise and by combining some of the tours with your ship going through Gatun Locks you can see almost the whole Canal.
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S.S. Badger R/T from Manitowoc June 02
#9
78 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
I've been on many cruises in the eastern and westerm Caribbean in July and December and never experienced anything like 2 years ago. Is the southern Caribbean more likely to experience rough seas than the eastern or western?
As far as the heat and humidity, I see you live in Florida, as I do. Is the Panama Canal in december worse than South Florida in the summer? The HAL website lists the temperatures as being in the 80's. (Of course, they don't talk about the humidity.) Would this kind of weather in the canal impact the a/c in the cabins?
#10
Florida
5,453 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
I don't believe any of the Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico areas are more likely to be rougher than anywhere else, although I have no evidence to back that up. Just as an example we were on the Enchantment of the Seas off the coast of Cuba just two days after hurricane Ike, just as it was hitting Galveston, the water was like glass and beautiful sunny skies. You would not have been able to guess that a huge storm had ever been there. Go figure!?

I have found in most cases the ship's AC handles the heat and humidity reasonably well. If are in an inside cabin absolutley no problem, if you have afternoon sun on your side with an outside or balcony I just keep the drapes shut and the cabin will do ok.

We lived in Panama for a number of years and I am more uncomfortable with Florida'a summer than I ever was in Panama. If you are used to summer in Florida Panama will be a piece of cake. Actually December, January and February in my opinion are the best months weather wise. Dec. 21 marks the begining of dry season in Panama, just remember dry season in Panama does not mean no rain, just less rain. Rain during this time of the year usually is not long lasting, just a brief shower.

As far as the temps go in December, 80s is correct, (and the lows are not very low, maybe 78/79) rarely will find them in the 90s at that time of the year. Even though it will not be real hot temp wise, the humidity will make seem warmer than what the thermometer states, but as I said, compared to Florida... no problem!!

Here's to smoothe sailing!
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"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
#11
1,139 Posts
Joined Jul 2007
Originally posted by shahan10
We were thinking of the Panama Canal cruise in April 2010. When I was talking to the guy at "Funforless.com" he said that the 2010 schedule wasn't out yet and that it looks like, for some reason, very few ships will be doing that cruise in 2010. So we've decided on the Nov 1, 2009 trip out of San Diego and up to San Juan.
And, yes, we're a bit concerned about the weather in November.
Sharon in UT
Dont know who the "fun for less" guy is but the 2010 Panama Canal Cruise Schedules have been out for quite awhile. I was deciding which one to take in end of March and into April and I see your post is May 29?
#12
73 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Originally posted by Stevero2
Two years ago, we found ourselves in a tropical storm on the Masdam in early December. Is this a likley possibility for the Decmber 3 Zuiderdam cruise?
Also, I'm not exactly a big fan of thrill rides. How comfortable is going through the Panama Canal and, as I asked in your own email, are we likely to spend a good deal of time in the Atlantic and would that likely be rougher than the Caribbean?
Are you going on this Zuiderdam Dec 3 cruise? We have been booked on this for 14 months now - and you are the first definite person that I have found on the ship with us. I have no activity on the roll call. Good - There is other people!!!
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HAL Westerdam - Alaska 9/06
NCL Pride of Aloha - Hawaii 4/08
HAL Zuiderdam - Panama Canal 12/09
#13
Central NJ
1,251 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Originally posted by shahan10
We were thinking of the Panama Canal cruise in April 2010. When I was talking to the guy at "Funforless.com" he said that the 2010 schedule wasn't out yet and that it looks like, for some reason, very few ships will be doing that cruise in 2010. So we've decided on the Nov 1, 2009 trip out of San Diego and up to San Juan.
And, yes, we're a bit concerned about the weather in November.
Sharon in UT
Prices for canal crossings will be going up in 2010 and most lines are reacting by reducing the number of crossings or only offering the crossings on their longer trips.
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Jewel of the Seas - Panama and Caribbean - Apr 2009
#14
Chicago, IL
477 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Originally posted by unklez
Prices for canal crossings will be going up in 2010 and most lines are reacting by reducing the number of crossings or only offering the crossings on their longer trips.
We booked the Island Princess, November 20, 2010 FLL to LAX. Price was $1,000 more than the same cruise in 2009. Princess Rep said that's because when they first come out, they always start at the highest price, only to come down later. He said when the 2009 schedule came out, the prices started in the same range as the 2010 schedule is now.

Here's to hoping that the same thing happens for our cruise.
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DAVID




Navigator of the Seas - Caribbean - February 2010
Sea Princess - Scandinavia - July 2008
Carnival Celebration - Bahamas - Christmas 2007
Golden Princess - S. Caribbean - April 2006
#15
121 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
I am looking at a Feb 2010 Panama Canal cruise. I noticed that you get into Fuerte Amador @ 6:00pm and they offer 5 hour shore excursions. What time does it get dark? Thanks
#16
Florida
5,453 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
The latest the sun goes down in that part of Panama is about 6:40pm, so I would guess that time of year around 6:10. You're pretty close to the equator and there is not much swing in sunrise/sunset times. Fairly close to 12 hours day and 12 hours night year round.
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"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
#17
Philadelphia
207 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Originally posted by Cologal49
Are you going on this Zuiderdam Dec 3 cruise? We have been booked on this for 14 months now - and you are the first definite person that I have found on the ship with us. I have no activity on the roll call. Good - There is other people!!!

We going on Dec 3 too...I think the roll call board is slow because "our" cruise dropped off the front page.
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#18
Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama
1,194 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
I am looking at a Feb 2010 Panama Canal cruise. I noticed that you get into Fuerte Amador @ 6:00pm and they offer 5 hour shore excursions. What time does it get dark? Thanks
7PM year round. Must be nightlife tours of the city . . . for more on Amador see http://richarddetrich.wordpress.com/canal-cruise/ . You can get a cab into Panama City, although I'd recommend a tour - limited time, safety, etc. - or there are some nice places to eat on the Amador peninsula with spectacular views of Panama City at night across the Bay of Panama.

Regards, Richard
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Richard Detrich - Port & Canal Lecturer & Author
#19
british columbia
42 Posts
Joined May 2009
We almost booked a San Diego -Miami cruise Oct 4th for 14 nights, but have been reading some threads about the weather. Anyone got any about cruising Panama Canal in October?
Thanks
Lesley in Victoria BC
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#20
Florida
5,453 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
October in Panama is nearing the end of the rainy season. There is a chance you will get some rain but don't let that worry you. Usually rains are just a breif local shower and not an all day event. We went through the Canal in early November and received a breif shower around 9AM. Cleared the decks beautifully and clogged the breakfast buffet! You had your choice viewing spots on deck! Don't let the possibility of rain in October enter into your plans. Even in the dry season, late December through April, does not mean NO rain, just LESS rain! Go and enjoy!
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"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