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About BillB48

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  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Royal Caribbean
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Panama Canal, TAs, Alaska

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  1. About the closest I've seen to an on your own tour is a short swing through Panama City and then shopping at one of the larger malls where some of that time would be on your own. As of now the only other Panama City tour I see is one that allows some time in the Casco Antiguo and then to the locks. Curious, where did they drop you off and how long was the "on your own" part of your excursion?
  2. Yes, but only for the Gatun Lake stop. Everywhere else you can use private operators. Even if you could book the Transit by Ferry independently, it would not be the best idea. This excursion can experience delays as the ferry usually locks through with other vessels. The actual length of the tour can be "flexible" so you really don't want to be nervously looking at your watch as departure time for the ship nears. Even though the ship's excursion is the only option, it is the best option. The Ferry Transit is a very popular excursion. It has been my experience even if they sell out on line. the cruise line normally holds back a portion to sell on board ship. I have never seen the price of the excursion change, so it may not be a bad idea to book it before you sail.
  3. The bow on the Serenade (and the other Radiance class ships) is generally open to the passengers all the time. I have seen it closed at times during the late overnight hours and of course in inclement weather. The bow was always open to the passengers during the transit. I am sure you can imagine the bow is prime real estate for the passage through the first locks, Gatun in the direction you are going. It does thin out after Gatun and gets a little more crowded for the afternoon passage through the Pacific Locks, usually not as crowded as in the morning. I think some of the interesting stops other than at the Canal would be found in Cartagena and Guatemala. Lots of interesting things in Cartagena in and around the walled City and Antigua Guatemala, the one time capital of Guatemala. As for your stop in Colon for Panama, seeing the locks (both old and new) from shore side might be something you would take in. There are also trips to the Embera Indians which are unique and excursions to Panama City where there is also a walled portion of the City which dates back to 1673. By the way the original Panama City (Panama Viejo) was founded 500 years ago on Aug 15, 1519. However some tours do not cover this portion of Panama City in their itinerary. Check out your Roll Call for some ideas if you are looking to use someone else besides RC for tours. In Cartagena Dora gets pretty good reviews and Okey Dokey Tours in Costa Rica seem to rate fairly well. In Panama I have used non ship services, but I don't have anything I can readily recommend.
  4. Just to expand on what njhorseaman said once the ship reaches Gatun Lake after locking through Gatun Locks passengers who have purchased shore excursions will tender ashore. There normally is a wide selection of excursions, but one of the popular ones is Panama Canal by Ferry. In short once you leave the ship you will be bused to the Pacific side where you transit both Pacific Locks and Gaillard Cut. Then you will return to the ship by bus. While you are on the tour the ship will lock back down Gatun Locks and be in Colon when you return. This excursion does provide you the opportunity to see the more scenic parts of the Canal and some of Panama's countryside as well. Another benefit of this excursion is being able to see the locks in operation from your large ship at Gatun Locks and then see the operation at the Pacific Locks from the smaller vessel later that day. Two completely different perspectives. So if you can't do the full transit at this time, then your cruise and the above mentioned shore excursion is an excellent next choice.
  5. Really can't offer anything substantive regarding which cruise line, but can throw out a couple of things to consider. All of HAL's ships will be using the legacy locks, they presently have only one ship that would need to use the new locks. That ship is the Koningsdam and I don't see it scheduled for any Canal transits. On the other hand Princess has three ships scheduled for full transits, the Emerald, Coral and the Island. The Emerald will be using the new locks while the Coral and the Island will use the legacy locks. From what I have read, most people prefer the Coral over the Island as a result of the additional passenger cabins that were added and reduction in some public spaces. One other thing to add, I would look for a cruise that offers a port call in Panama in addition to the transit. Panama is quite a bit different from the "regular" Caribbean or Mexican Riviera cruises. Several good historical/cultural excursions as well as you can explore some of the Canal from the shore side perspective. Not all cruise lines combine a port call in Panama. Both Princess and HAL do call at Ft. Amador on the Pacific side, however they don't always include the Ft. Amador stop in every itinerary. I would be willing to wager that the 14 doesn't stop at Ft. Amador.
  6. Good news on the webcam front... as of right now, all of the cam links are active. The one for "Pedro Miguel" Locks is finally on line. While it does not actually show Pedro Miguel Locks in its present orientation, it does provide a great view from the top of the hill on the east side of the locks (Cerro Luisa) looking north towards the Centennial Bridge. Happy ship watching!
  7. A couple of anniversaries to note today... August 15, the Panama Canal celebrates its 105th anniversary of the opening and Panama City celebrates its 500th year since the founding all the way back in 1519.
  8. Dan, you may be in the minority, but you are not alone! Oasis class not any where near a favorite, in fact I avoid them. Voyager and Freedom are wonderful ships although the added cabins on 12 were not a welcomed addition, unless I happened to score one.
  9. If the ship you choose will fit in the old locks, there is a 99.999999 chance it will use the old locks. I left an allowance of 0.000001 that it could somehow use the new locks. I say that because one just never knows that there could possibly be some set of off the wall circumstances that would necessitate a passage in the new locks. Maximum dimensions for ships to use the old locks are 965'x106'. The 106 beam figure is at the waterline, many times when the dimensions of the ship are cited they will use the maximum beam which would include overhangs which are not taken into consideration. Generally the passenger capacity for ships using the old locks is never much over 2500 passengers... usually less. As far as direction goes, either way is just as enjoyable. The deciding factors are usually how you want to handle transportation to join the ship and transportation home after the cruise. Some folks like to get the longer flight over first and others the opposite and some can use a car for one leg. Time of year may also dictate how convenient and affordable the air fare is. At the beginning of Canal "season" (September) you will find more California to Florida itineraries, while near the end of the "season" (May) you will find more Florida to California. Just a matter of what works for you.
  10. I too would be interested in the details of the transit. The 7A to 7P times may just be for all mark on the wall for completing the partial transit within those times. Since there will be a full day in Colon following the transit, I would think that they will not be offering any excursions while the ship is in Gatun Lake. By not having to deal with excursions in Gatun Lake this would give the ship greater flexibility in not having to be one of the first daylight transits at the locks. Getting through Gatun Locks and into Gatun Lake early is a major necessity in order to have sufficient time to run the longer excursions. Twelve hours is not long enough for two complete transits of the Canal, besides with two complete transits the ship would incur two sets of tolls... ouch! While it would be "possible" to cross Gatun Lake sailing towards Gamboa as there are some areas of the channel to turn the ship around, this something not normally done. After Gamboa the width of the channel would not permit a turnaround until Balboa. Reaching Balboa would constitute a complete transit. My bet is on locking through Gatun Locks, turning around in Gatun Lake and back out the Locks sometime within the twelve hours allotted.
  11. And that is 24" when the ship is perfectly centered, sometimes it is not a perfect world!😉 Sounds like you enjoyed it, thanks for the report.
  12. That is a real shame you weren't able to stop at the Canal's Administration Building. The real gem of the building are the murals in the rotunda depicting scenes from the construction of the Canal. The murals were painted by American artist William B. Van Igen, both the murals and the Building are over a hundred years old. AFAIK the murals are still accessible to the public.
  13. Colon is certainly not the place for you to leave the pier area and wonder around by yourself. However, there is no problem if you want to engage a private tour operator... you really don't have to restrict yourself to the ship's excursion. Of course there are always some advantages with the ship's excursion, particularly returning to the ship in a timely manner. Many of the available excursions at the Colon stop are a considerable distance from Colon and in rather remote areas. The Embera Indian excursion would be an example. There would be nothing inherently unsafe about hiring a cab to take to and from Agua Clara Locks if you did want to take an all day tour, they are available at the port. You just would want to hire the cab for the trip to the Locks, wait for you and return to the ship.
  14. While not knowing what you are interested in, Regent does cover the more popular tours in general. I'll just focus on what I believe to be the more popular excursions. Exploration of the Canal... this is a partial transit of the Pacific Locks and the Gaillard Cut, (not the Gaylard Cut that they just cut and pasted from some other misinformed copy writer). Just an FYI, Panama has gone back to the original name of the "Cut" and which is Culebra. However Gaillard and Culebra are still rather interchangeable. Note that you will cover much of what this excursion covers in terms of the Canal on your transit the following day. In other words you will go through the Gaillard Cut and the Pacific Locks on your transit of the Canal. It is however a different experience see every thing from a smaller vessel. It provides a completely different perspective of the Canal. It may be something to consider if you are really interested in the Canal. Encounter with the Embera Indians... a very popular excursion that many people equate to something out of National Geographic. While most likely you will visit one of the demonstration villages, it does accurately depict their way of life. Panama City tour... again a very popular tour that takes you to the ruins of Old Panama (Panama Viejo) that Henry Morgan provided his version of urban renewal and then on to the Casco Antiguo which was founded after Morgan's unwelcome visit to Old Panama. In between those two places you will see modern Panama City, a sight that surprises many. Two Oceans Railroad... this would be of particular interest to the railroad enthusiast. Riding the rails of the first intercontinental railroad in the world. Lot of history on those rails going all the way back to the California Gold Rush. It may not be the fastest railroad in the world, but it is the quickest transcontinental railroad around! There are other tours listed but these will be the most popular, but if one of the others strike your fancy then that would be the one for you.
  15. That's the way I read the regulation. I am assuming that in the case of Royal making one of their ships compliant, it would only affect Royal Caribbean's fleet. Even though Royal "owns" Celebrity, X's ships would still be able to use the exemption if they opted not to be shore power compliant. Guess Royal isn't interested in a low/no CARB diet!😉
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