What is "partial transit" of the Panama Canal?

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#1
San Francisco Bay Area
155 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
Would I really be missing out if I scheduled a cruise that has "partial transit" instead of "full transit" of the Panama Canal? Thanks!
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Laurie
#2
Home of the OKC THUNDER
18,621 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
I have done both. The full transit is much better, although we enjoyed the partial transit. On the partial you will enter the Gatun locks......go through them........then the ship normally drops anchor in Gatun Lake to let people off for excursions and then returns through the Gatun Locks.

The full transit is just that..........from the Pacific to the Caribbean/Atlantic through all of the locks.

Different cruises indeed but you will experience the canal with the partial......

Still think the full transit is better..........JMO.
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#3
Oklahoma City, OK
11,303 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
Actually, a partial transit can be done from either side, not just the eastern side. And it really depends on what you want from your cruise experience as to whether or not you will actually "miss out" by doing a partial. If you want to end the cruise in the same port you embarked, then you would need to do a partial. Look at the entire itinerary and see which one is more of what you want and go from there.
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#4
Little Rock, Arkansas
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Joined Mar 2005
I was only able to do a partial canal cruise due to length of time. So in order to see the full canal I did a ferry excursion through the ship that takes you the rest of the way through the canal on a ferry and it was absolutely amazing.
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#5
Northern California
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Joined Oct 2003
Originally posted by wrp96
I was only able to do a partial canal cruise due to length of time. So in order to see the full canal I did a ferry excursion through the ship that takes you the rest of the way through the canal on a ferry and it was absolutely amazing.
I did exactly the same thing and thoroughly enjoyed the ferry excursion. It was great to be on a small ferry(200 passenger) to actually go through the locks on the Pacific side. I have since taken the full transit and they both have their advantages.

Marilyn
#6
Sarnia, Ontario Canada
4,514 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
I would like more infomation on the ferry that you took to go through the canal. Ship excursion or private? If private, was there enough time and easy to find a private tour guide? If through ship; which excursion and approximate what was the cost? Trying to make us our mind whether to do the partial transit or the entire transit. Any help you can give me would be appreciated. I figure the entire transit is going to be at least $600. more and I don't think I can justify it but don't want to be shortchanged and regret it later. Thanks
#7
Little Rock, Arkansas
37,374 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
It was a ship's excursion and cost $175. I don't even think it is available as a private excursion (and if the ship enter's Gatun Lake most cruiseline's will only let you off the ship there if you are on a ship's excursion).
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#10
Little Rock, Arkansas
37,374 Posts
Joined Mar 2005
There are 3 sets of locks in the Panama Canal between the Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. In a partial transit cruise, the ship goes through 1 set of locks then turns around and goes back out that same set of locks. This is different from a full transit cruise that goes through all 3 sets of locks.

Most partial transits are from the East Coast. They enter the Canal at the Gatun Locks, float around in Gatun Lake, let of passengers tender off the ship for shore excursions, and then go back out the Gatun Locks back into the Caribbean Sea without going the full length of the canal to the Pacific. From the West Coast, the ship enters the Miraflores Locks, floats around, then turns around and goes back out the Miraflores Locks into the Pacific Ocean without going the full length of the canal to the Caribbean Sea.

A full transit cruise enters one side of the canal, sails through all 3 sets of locks, and comes out on the other side.
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#11
158 Posts
Joined May 2004
Thank you for that easy to understand explanation - we're just starting to look into the Panama Canal cruises and I couldn't figure out what the "partial" or "full" transits were all about - THANKS!!
#12
Florida
5,519 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
mishdoob, just wanted to point out that this thread is a bit old. Altough the info is still largely accurate, in wrp96's post about partial transits fom the Pacific is not any longer valid as no ships are offering that cruise. HAL and Princess offer a number of partial tranist cruises from around November through April from Florida.
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#15
Florida
5,519 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
If everything were equal I would pick January, but the honest answer is there really is little difference in those time periods. Anytime in that period would be fine.
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#16
West Yorkshire UK
372 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Anyone know what the weather will be like in March? We are doing the full transit.

Thanks
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#17
Florida
5,519 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
March is well within the Dry Season in Panama and surrounding area. Dry Season runs from late December through April. Temperatures can be in the low 90s (32C I think) and for lows, it probably won't get below 76 unless you are in your cabin!. Coming from your part of the world it will seem on the warm side, but it's the humidity that is the problem. Don't let any of this scare you off because a breeze, shade and air conditioning are never far away. If you are out on deck for a long time on transit day, don't forget your sunscreen.
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#18
Atlanta
24 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
We booked a 11 days partial canal cruise on Nov 15, 2013. How the weather wil be like Panama ? One of us is mobility challenged, cannot walk more than 100 ft. We will have an electric scooter. What limitation we will have on board and at the ports.
#19
Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama
1,194 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
We booked a 11 days partial canal cruise on Nov 15, 2013. How the weather wil be like Panama ? One of us is mobility challenged, cannot walk more than 100 ft. We will have an electric scooter. What limitation we will have on board and at the ports.
We're in the tropics so more or less the weather is the same year round. Expect hot and humid and probably rain showers. It's unlikely to rain all day but in November I'd expect rain sometime. It is, after all, the rain forest.

You said a partial transit, most likely 11 days round trip from Florida. If you are dependent on the scooter it is unlikely that you will be able to disembark the ship in Gatun Lake via tender, so unlikely that you would be able to take a ship tour in Panama. Only people taking ship tours are normally able to disembark the ship by tender in Gatun Lake. You will, however, be able to experience the Canal and the locks from your ship.

I'd talk with the ship, and do some research on line with independent tour operators about what might be available in various ports with your scooter. Understand that outside the US, Canada and Europe there is a much different concept of accessibility . Frequently pavements are uneven and sometimes challenging even for walking without a scooter!

The nice thing about a Canal cruise is that it is possible to experience the main attraction [the Canal!] without leaving the ship.

Regards, Richard
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Richard Detrich - Port & Canal Lecturer & Author
#20
West coast of Florida
488 Posts
Joined Apr 2010
Originally posted by Richard in Panama
You said a partial transit, most likely 11 days round trip from Florida.

The nice thing about a Canal cruise is that it is possible to experience the main attraction [the Canal!] without leaving the ship.

Regards, Richard
Hey Richard~

Am doing the cruise from FLL, Florida a week or so after the poster you responded to & am wondering about the earlier comments about the availability of cruising the other locks on a ferry. Is that still the case & do you know the current costs to do such? Thanks!
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