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Panama Canal Cruise Advice


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Hi folks, hubby and I have only sailed Celebrity (7 different times--Med/Alaska/Carib) and we don't see any options for Spring 2019 Panama Canal with Celebrity. I think we want to do the full transit (I hear that's the best way to go although it takes more of my vacation time). For you experienced cruisers out there, what cruise line would you recommend and why? We live on the East Coast of Canada, so I think flying out West to embark might be a better option. I am 52 and my husband is 59 and we are both active. Welcome all feedback and thoughts. thanks in advance!

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We did Holland America last year from Ft. Lauderdale to Vancouver and loved it. While we have done a number of canal cruises (partial and full transits) it was the first full transit on HAL and I would absolutely do it again. The on board activities are not "active" but were very interesting, especially the special lecturers. Note that the lectures were real learning experiences and not sales pitches! Most of the ship seemed to be from Canada so we met some outstanding people and had a blast with them. I suggest you take a look at them and check out the HAL board.

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Princess and NCL also do full transits of the Canal. We did a full transit aboard NCL (Miami to LA) in the winter of 2017 and really enjoyed it. I would also put in a plug for going east to west because of the time changes.

 

Enjoy whatever you decide, it's a terrific trip!

 

 

enhance

 

(Gatun locks by turtles06)

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We (family of 4) have done Fort Lauderdale to San Diego twice with Celebrity, once Easter break on Infinity, once Christmas break Connstellation. Both were EXCELLENT cruises. Great mix of exploring and adventuring, history and cultural experiences. What ever cruise line you choose, do the full transit, it should be wondeful. Read the interesting book Path Between the Seas -David McCollough (Sp?). Have a great trip!

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Hi folks, hubby and I have only sailed Celebrity (7 different times--Med/Alaska/Carib) and we don't see any options for Spring 2019 Panama Canal with Celebrity. I think we want to do the full transit (I hear that's the best way to go although it takes more of my vacation time). For you experienced cruisers out there, what cruise line would you recommend and why? We live on the East Coast of Canada, so I think flying out West to embark might be a better option. I am 52 and my husband is 59 and we are both active. Welcome all feedback and thoughts. thanks in advance![/quote]

 

Look at Princess- April 11, 2019- full transit, Emerald Princess starting in Vancouver (22 days) or you can embark in Los Angeles a few days later. I last sailed on Princess (Emerald also) in 2009. Since then have always cruised with Celebrity. Like you, could not find a Celebrity cruise so decided to try Princess again. Will be interesting to see the difference as with every cruise line/ship there are posters who like or dislike certain things. I am going with an open mind although I will certainly miss some of the Elite or concierge perks.

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Hi folks, hubby and I have only sailed Celebrity (7 different times--Med/Alaska/Carib) and we don't see any options for Spring 2019 Panama Canal with Celebrity. I think we want to do the full transit (I hear that's the best way to go although it takes more of my vacation time). For you experienced cruisers out there, what cruise line would you recommend and why? We live on the East Coast of Canada, so I think flying out West to embark might be a better option. I am 52 and my husband is 59 and we are both active. Welcome all feedback and thoughts. thanks in advance!

 

It is too bad that Infinity only does the fall season crossings. We did end of April 2016 full crossing on Infinity and it was wonderful. Not sure why they changed.

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Hi folks, hubby and I have only sailed Celebrity (7 different times--Med/Alaska/Carib) and we don't see any options for Spring 2019 Panama Canal with Celebrity. I think we want to do the full transit (I hear that's the best way to go although it takes more of my vacation time). For you experienced cruisers out there, what cruise line would you recommend and why? We live on the East Coast of Canada, so I think flying out West to embark might be a better option. I am 52 and my husband is 59 and we are both active. Welcome all feedback and thoughts. thanks in advance!

 

We did this on Infinity as our first Celebrity cruise and haven't sailed anyone other than X since! One thing I would strongly suggest since you live on the East coast like us, is that you fly to San Diego and let the cruise absorb the time zones on your way back, flying home from FLL or MIA. Keep in mind that any cruise that leaves and returns to the same coast is not a full transit.

 

One of the best shore excursions we did was in Panama City and we took a small ship through the canal for a completely different experience. I thought I'd be bored but DH is a civil engineer and he really wanted to do this...all I can say is it was amazing and the local food buffet for b'fast and lunch was wonderful! We went in April for our 50th but Fall would be nice too. Whenever you go bring insect repellent....mosquitoes love tourists. :)

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We’ve done the Transit on Celebrity and Princess, and Princess does have Sprint 2019 transits. As does Norwegian and Holland America, plus a few All-inclusive Lines. we enjoyed Princess transit, as I think you’d enjoy pretty much any Line - great itinerary.

 

As to either going West-East or East-West, I’d suggest you pick the direction best for getting to/from the ports for your specific needs. Picking up 3 hrs going East-West isn’t that big of a deal considering most of these cruises are 13-15 days and thats about 330+/-hrs.

 

We picked West-East and spent a few days in San Diego and LA prior and loved it. Can do that in Ft Lauderdale and Miami too, but been to those cities many times prior/after cruises. And do go at least one day prior; this isn’t an easy ‘go to next port’ itinerary many times if you miss the departure. On our Princess cruise a group traveling out of Chicago (in the Winter!) missed the departure due to weather and spent 3 days catching up flying down to Mexico. After meeting us, that’s all they could talk about through the rest of the cruise. Sad......and expensive.

 

Enjoy, lots of selection.

 

Den

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One of the best shore excursions we did was in Panama City and we took a small ship through the canal for a completely different experience. I thought I'd be bored but DH is a civil engineer and he really wanted to do this...all I can say is it was amazing and the local food buffet for b'fast and lunch was wonderful!

 

Did you do this excursion on the same trip you did a full transit? I've heard it can be crowded (and miserable), but was hoping maybe since we are doing a full transit that there will be fewer people wanting to go back a second time. How full was the smaller boat and was it easy to get in a good spot for pictures?

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We've taken 2 full transit cruises. Once on Princess, Once on Celebrity. Both went from either San Diego/Los Angeles to Miami/Fort Lauderdale. 2 different months; March and November. We really enjoyed March as we saw so much wild life. Lots of whales, turtles and very calm seas. In Nov. we saw no sea creatures and had very windy seas. Enjoyed both cruises but loved Celebrity's perk of beverage package. Ports are almost identical for all cruise lines. Little factors like time of year could really make a difference in your choice.

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If you like the Celebrity experience, I would recommend trying Princess, as the provide a very similar atmosphere. Their Coral and Island Princess ships are the same size as Celebrity’s M class ships. An Emerald Princess transit would go through the new locks, as she is too large for the old ones. I think the Emerald only does one spring sailing, while Coral & Island do multiple transits, although some of Island’s are only 10 night partial transits. If you’ve never done the Canal before I would say do the old locks and you can fully appreciate the 100+year old amazing engineering of the old locks. Then you can save the new locks for the next time

The direction that you sail is entirely up to you. You have to decide which end you would rather have the longer plane ride!

A Panama Canal transit is amazing, enjoy your cruise!

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Did you do this excursion on the same trip you did a full transit? I've heard it can be crowded (and miserable), but was hoping maybe since we are doing a full transit that there will be fewer people wanting to go back a second time. How full was the smaller boat and was it easy to get in a good spot for pictures?

 

Yes, we did this excursion on the same trip we did the full transit. Excursion was after full transit and while the boat was full it was not packed. The boat was about the size of a medium ferry...there were plenty of places to sit (comfortable wooden benches with backs), bathrooms were clean, buffet was very, very good and photo ops were not a problem (I'm a photo addict and never had a problem getting shots I wanted). It was one of the best excursions we did and I was not really looking forward to it because I thought it would be boring. Trust me, it wasn't boring for a second!

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Along with a great itinerary, you will see very different seabirds following the ship. You’ll have the Pacific birds and then the Atlatntic/Carribean birds. Very differnt and fun even for us non-bird watchers.

 

For our 2nd transit, I got a Seabirds book and had a grea time. I spotted a Blue-footed Boobie, but my wife insisted I was making it up just so I could say the word ‘Boobie’ in public. Fortuentately, I took a picture of them....but she was partly right, I told everyone we met I’d seen a Boobie!! She wasn’t impressed with my new hobby.

 

Den

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