Moving around the ship?

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#1
WA
38 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Everyone keeps saying we need to move around the ship during the canal transit. Sounds good. We'll definitely do that. But are there any can't-miss sights, and which part of the ship are they best viewed from?

We don't want to "move" to a wrong spot at the wrong time and miss those interesting sights...

Note: We're doing eastbound (from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale) on HAL Westerdam.
#2
Petaluma, Ca. 94954
29,503 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
On HAL ships, be on the bow (as it will be open for viewing- many cruise ships don't do this, but HAL does it on all their ships)when you enter locks. This will require getting up and out early for the first set of locks. Really worth it.
#3
90,168 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
I agree with CruiserBruce.

The interesting thing is often many people give up after awhile and miss things. Take a break from time to time but then get back out.

I would begin towards the bow of the ship but then after you get past the first lock I would move around to not only side to side but taking in views from both higher and lower decks.

Keith
#4
Florida
5,562 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Probably the easiest way not to miss anything is be on a forward deck where you can see ahead. That way you will be able to take in whatever is of interest, if is of particular interest and you have not seen all you would like to see more of, then you can follow it to which ever side. If you maintain a spot with a forward perspective then you will be able to see it all unfold. Things happen in the Canal at an easy pace, usually there is time to position yourself. If you are looking for the real prime position of being on the bow seeing the gates open and entering the lock, it will be a very popular spot as Bruce indicated.

Most cruisers will recommend you view part of your passage through the locks on one of the lower outside decks. It is really fantastic to see you ship slip by all that concrete and being so close as well. Depending on where you are on one of the lower decks, you should be able to get up close and almost personal with one of the "mules" (caution... don't feed them, special diet you know) I would recommend you save this activity for the last lock in the direction you are transiting, which is Gatun Locks. By that time of the day a lot of the prime viewing spots are a lot easier to get.
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#5
WA
38 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Thank you all for your advice! We'll definitely get up early and get out on the bow. How early should we get there? Is 4 am early enough? (According to the itinerary, we enter the canal at 5 am.)
#6
Florida
5,562 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Four is probably early enough, however from past experience you won't be alone. What I don't know is how HAL handles admitting passengers to the bow, guess what I'm trying to say is when do they actually open the area. On a couple of ships that I have been on that permitted access to the bow, the area was normally opened to passengers 24/7.

Your actual transit probably won't start at 5, you will however be in the Pacific anchorage among the other ships waiting for your pilot. You should begin the transit somewhere around 6.

What I love about transiting the Canal in this direction, is you should be able to see (as long as the timing and weather... ie clouds are all cooperating) the sun rise in the Pacific. Later that day you will be able to see it set in the Atlantic. Not many places in the world you can see this without benefit of supersonic transportation!
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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
#8
Northeast, Ohio
26 Posts
Joined Aug 2016
We did this trip on Celebrity this spring and I will suggest waiting on the helo deck and forward parts of the ship until later in the day. At 7am the observation deck was 10 rows deep and the helo deck was completely filled. Later in the day when approaching the locks at the other end of the canal the observation lounge was nearly empty and there were fewer than 50 people on the helo deck. I think everyone is excited to get the best view first but lose interest as the hours pass. Try watching the ship leave a lock from the stern, view the walls of the lock from down low while everyone is crammed into the lounge at 7am.
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#9
9,721 Posts
Joined May 2009
OP: I am quoting below a very helpful post from the always helpful BillB48 from last fall, which has great info about "points of interest" along the way, in your direction of travel. Thanks again for that, Bill!

You really don't have to wait until you reach Gaillard Cut to start seeing lots of things that are interesting. I think you are on a northbound transit (Pac-Atl) correct? Then one of the neatest things to catch a glimpse of is sunrise in the Pacific... then you will be able to enjoy the sun setting in the Atlantic later that day. Not many places in the world you can do that without using something that travels at supersonic speeds!

Once you actually start your transit and enter the Canal channel, off to the port are several islands in the Bay, the largest being Taboga. Taboga was once used as a sanitarium for Canal workers to beat the ravages of the yellow fever and malaria mosquitoes. On the starboard side there is a group of islands that are connected to the mainland via a causeway. These islands were known as the "fortified islands"... they were once part of the coastal defense of Canal that included 16" disappearing guns various long range mortars. Commercial development and and nature have covered up much of that.

I'm sure a look to the starboard side you will see the ever present skyline of Panama City... hard to miss... and of course ahead, the Bridge of Americas. After passing the BoA and the harbor of Balboa and before Miraflores Locks be looking off towards the port, this will be about the best chance for you to see the new Cocoli Locks and their 3 large "steps" that will lead to Gaillard Cut.

After clearing Miraflores Locks and crossing Miraflores Lake on the port side is the access channel that connects the Cocoli Locks to Gatun Lake and the Cut. If your timing is right you could see a large neoPanamax ship navigating it towards the Cut. I point that out because it is an interesting sight to be able to see a ship sailing near you at another 30' higher than you.

Pedro Miguel Locks and finally the Gaillard Cut! The most prominent feature ahead of you after leaving Pedro Miguel is the Centennial Bridge. After sailing under the Bridge be on the "lookout" for the Continental Divide, it lies between Contractor's Hill (port) and Gold Hill (starboard). Those two hills have been a continual source of geological headaches for the Canal even when the French were chomping away at them. During the rest of your 8 mile passage through the Cut there are not a lot of specific items to point out, but having the knowledge of what went on there a hundred years ago does give you an appreciation for the accomplishment. Just before you leave the Cut on the starboard side is El Renacer, now the "home" of everyone's favorite dictator, Manuel Noriega.

Shortly after Noriega's digs on the same side will be Chagres Crossing... an old railroad trestle bridge that spans the Chagres River were it empties into the Canal. Just beyond the Crossing is Gamboa which is the home of the Canal's Dredging Division. Good chance of seeing some interesting floating equipment there. One of the tallest floating cranes in the world calls Gamboa home. That would be the Titan which was formerly known as Herman the German. Herman was shipped from Germany after WW2 as a war prize through the Canal and resided in Long Beach until the late 90s when it was acquired by the Canal. The Titan replace another German crane, the Hercules which came from Germany to the Canal in 1914 just before WW1.

Gamboa marks the beginning of your passage across Gatun Lake, not many individual items to point out, only to take in the largely undisturbed scenery... it is pretty much been the same for the last 100 years. In a few parts of the wider channel which follows the path of the Chagres River you will be fairly close to the jungle canopy in some areas, but it is all around you in the distance. On the port side will be your best chance to see oncoming ship traffic.

As you approach Gatun Locks the Gatun Dam and Spillway are on the port side and you may get a glimpse of the new Atlantic Locks of Agua Clara. Your best view of the new Locks will shortly after clearing Gatun Locks from the starboard side. However before you reach that, do be sure to look to the port for a rather insignificant looking "creek" for the lack of a better word... this is about all that remains that is visible of the original French excavation. If you are not looking for it, truly you will miss it.

Then a short sail toward the breakwater with Colon on your right and the former US Army's Fort Sherman. If you take a close look towards Ft. Sherman you will see a fairly tall lighthouse, Toro Point Light. This lighthouse dates back to the French who erected it along with another one on Isla Grande (you won't see that one) in the 1890s.

Your transit is complete... now time to plan the next transit!!!
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showp...39&postcount=8
#10
New Mexico
5,109 Posts
Joined Apr 2011
Originally posted by Turtles06
OP: I am quoting below a very helpful post from the always helpful BillB48 from last fall, which has great info about "points of interest" along the way, in your direction of travel. Thanks again for that, Bill!

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showp...39&postcount=8
Thank you so much for this.
#12
WA
38 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Originally posted by RexC
At 7am the observation deck was 10 rows deep and the helo deck was completely filled.
Yikes! That doesn't sound good... But we do want to be at the bow when we enter the canal, so I guess we'll have put up with the crowd.

Thank you for the warning
#13
Fredericksburg, va. USA
84,334 Posts
Joined May 2001
Are you doing a full or partial? Makes a bit of difference. On a full transit, it takes so long, that you will have AMPLE opportunity to see everything. There is no one thing that is more of a "must see" than another.
On a partial, going INTO Lake Gatun will be PACKED along the railings.....but once the excursion folks leave, the ship will have MUCH more space per person...and going back OUT of the locks, you'll have your choice of viewing...so don't try to see it all on the way in!
#14
Petaluma, Ca. 94954
29,503 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Originally posted by cb at sea
Are you doing a full or partial? Makes a bit of difference. On a full transit, it takes so long, that you will have AMPLE opportunity to see everything. There is no one thing that is more of a "must see" than another.
On a partial, going INTO Lake Gatun will be PACKED along the railings.....but once the excursion folks leave, the ship will have MUCH more space per person...and going back OUT of the locks, you'll have your choice of viewing...so don't try to see it all on the way in!
The OP says in their frst post they are going from San Diego to Ft Lauderdale. Sounds like a full transit to me.
#16
WA
38 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
It is indeed a full transit. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

Originally posted by cb at sea
On a full transit, it takes so long, that you will have AMPLE opportunity to see everything. There is no one thing that is more of a "must see" than another.
Thank you for your tip, cb at sea! Good to know that I'll have ample opportunity to see everything
#17
9,721 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by crunchii
It is indeed a full transit. Sorry if I wasn't clear.
You were totally clear. You said you were going from San Diego to Fort Lauderdale; that's a full transit.

Have a great time!