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Port or Starboard ?


tartantiara
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7 minutes ago, tartantiara said:

We are thinking of booking a Panama Canal cruise for January 2023, from Los Angeles to Miami. Is there a preferable side of the ship to book or are they both the same ? It is on NCL Joy 

It doesn't matter because you shouldn't be just sitting in one spot, such as your balcony, during your canal transit. There are things to see port, starboard, fore and aft. You should move from place to place. I've done six full transits of the Canal, four from Atlantic to Pacific and two in the opposite direction and on every transit I've found new things to see and learned more about the canal and its operation each time.

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2 minutes ago, njhorseman said:

It doesn't matter because you shouldn't be just sitting in one spot, such as your balcony, during your canal transit. There are things to see port, starboard, fore and aft. You should move from place to place. I've done six full transits of the Canal, four from Atlantic to Pacific and two in the opposite direction and on every transit I've found new things to see and learned more about the canal and its operation each time.

Thank you, we are not planning on sitting on our balcony all day we will be out and about . I was also thinking of sun on the balcony and if we would want that or not ( maybe too hot ) 

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11 minutes ago, tartantiara said:

Thank you, we are not planning on sitting on our balcony all day we will be out and about . I was also thinking of sun on the balcony and if we would want that or not ( maybe too hot ) 

If you want sun, probably best to choose starboard side.

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Doesn't make any difference.  Going south from LA morning sun will be on port, afternoon on starboard side.  In the canal you will be using the new locks and though it is interesting, it is not as fascinating as the old locks.  The first set of locks, Cocoli, the 'works' will be on the starboard side, and if you are high enough on deck you might be able to see the Miraflores Locks, and definitely the Pedro Miguel Locks.  At the other end, the works for the Agua Clara locks will be on the port side.  The works are the same, but by that time, there should be much more viewing space at the railings...Once out of the canal, the sun will reverse from your southbound portion.  EM

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1 hour ago, Essiesmom said:

Doesn't make any difference.  Going south from LA morning sun will be on port, afternoon on starboard side.

Well, it does make a difference.  From Los Angeles to the entry to the canal the ship will be taking generally southeasterly courses.  In January the sun will rise on the port bow but will be on the starboard side later in the morning and the remainder of the day.  Going north from the canal to Florida, it will be more evenly distributed.  Sun in the morning until noonish and that’ll be about it.  More time spent on the Pacific side than the Atlantic to boot so if you want sun, choose starboard.

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 If you are selecting a cabin based on the sun, from LA to the Canal you will generally find PM sun on the starboard side.  Depending on your route from the Canal to Miami, the PM sun will be somewhere on the port side.  Now even though you indicate you will move about the ship during your transit (highly recommended) you may wish to kickback on your balcony for a spell.  If that is the case then I would recommend the starboard side.  While both sides are important and part of the Canal experience, the starboard side has more distinct items of interest.  For example, when first enter the Canal you will be treated to a great view of Panama City's skyline, on the way to Cocoli Locks you pass the port of Balboa with more of the City's skyline in the backdrop.  The original locks of Miraflores and Pedro Miguel will also be on the starboard side.

 

This is not to say the port side is a wasteland in terms of things to see... upon entering the Canal a wonderful panorama of some of the larger islands in the Bay of Panama along with a number of ships at anchor and as EM pointed out for Cocoli Locks the "works" will be on the port side.  The works on the port side at the new locks really only include the approach wall and the control tower.  On the starboard side you have an opportunity to see the water saving basins.  The purpose of these basins is to reduce the amount of freshwater that is used in the new locks.  Again there is not a great deal to see even if the basins are used during your transit.  So your best bet is to go wherever there is something that interests you.  I also agree that the new locks are not quite as visually interesting as the original locks, but it is interesting never the less. 

 

 Either side will offer you nice views of relatively undeveloped land once you depart Cocoli Locks to enter Gaillard Cut.  Great views of heavily forested hills and islands will mark your crossing of Gatun Lake.  However, during the crossing of the Lake the port side will provide the best opportunity to see ships coming in the opposite direction.

 

One last comment about which side, when entering from the Pacific side you will want to outSIDE and topSIDE😁!  I bring this up as there are three bridges you will sail under during your transit and the Bridge of the Americas is the first of the three.  This is the lowest of all the bridges over the Canal and it is a tight fit, should be a great Kodak moment!  The other two Bridges are the Centennial Bridge just after entering Gaillard Cut and the Atlantic Bridge after clearing the last locks of Agua Clara.  They are impressive, but plenty of clearance.

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9 hours ago, BillB48 said:

 If you are selecting a cabin based on the sun, from LA to the Canal you will generally find PM sun on the starboard side.  Depending on your route from the Canal to Miami, the PM sun will be somewhere on the port side.  Now even though you indicate you will move about the ship during your transit (highly recommended) you may wish to kickback on your balcony for a spell.  If that is the case then I would recommend the starboard side.  While both sides are important and part of the Canal experience, the starboard side has more distinct items of interest.  For example, when first enter the Canal you will be treated to a great view of Panama City's skyline, on the way to Cocoli Locks you pass the port of Balboa with more of the City's skyline in the backdrop.  The original locks of Miraflores and Pedro Miguel will also be on the starboard side.

 

This is not to say the port side is a wasteland in terms of things to see... upon entering the Canal a wonderful panorama of some of the larger islands in the Bay of Panama along with a number of ships at anchor and as EM pointed out for Cocoli Locks the "works" will be on the port side.  The works on the port side at the new locks really only include the approach wall and the control tower.  On the starboard side you have an opportunity to see the water saving basins.  The purpose of these basins is to reduce the amount of freshwater that is used in the new locks.  Again there is not a great deal to see even if the basins are used during your transit.  So your best bet is to go wherever there is something that interests you.  I also agree that the new locks are not quite as visually interesting as the original locks, but it is interesting never the less. 

 

 Either side will offer you nice views of relatively undeveloped land once you depart Cocoli Locks to enter Gaillard Cut.  Great views of heavily forested hills and islands will mark your crossing of Gatun Lake.  However, during the crossing of the Lake the port side will provide the best opportunity to see ships coming in the opposite direction.

 

One last comment about which side, when entering from the Pacific side you will want to outSIDE and topSIDE😁!  I bring this up as there are three bridges you will sail under during your transit and the Bridge of the Americas is the first of the three.  This is the lowest of all the bridges over the Canal and it is a tight fit, should be a great Kodak moment!  The other two Bridges are the Centennial Bridge just after entering Gaillard Cut and the Atlantic Bridge after clearing the last locks of Agua Clara.  They are impressive, but plenty of clearance.

Thank you so much for all this information, starboard it is. Now to decide whether to book tomorrow with the current perks or wait until Wednesday and see what Black Friday has to offer 

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  • 4 months later...
Posted (edited)

Thanks for asking the question and the posted responses. We are considering a Princess SF to Fort Lauderdale cruise in February, 2022 and I was wondering about which side of the ship would be best.  

 

It sounds like the starboard side would be best for views, but will the port side be cooler (i.e. in the shade) for going through the locks?

Edited by Smokeyham
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2 hours ago, Smokeyham said:

Thanks for asking the question and the posted responses. We are considering a Princess SF to Fort Lauderdale cruise in February, 2022 and I was wondering about which side of the ship would be best.  

 

It sounds like the starboard side would be best for views, but will the port side be cooler (i.e. in the shade) for going through the locks?

Most of the day you’ll be traveling in a mainly NW direction.  So, the sun will be  mostly on the port side of the ship.  If you plan on staying on your verandah and want shade, choose the starboard side.

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Remember you will be using the new locks, so there will be starboard side views in the first set of locks (Cocoli) and portside on the second set.  Between the sets of locks, the views will be much the same on each side.  EM

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Don't worry too much about chasing (or avoiding) the sun on a balcony during the day of your transit.  While the overall direction of the ship throughout the day will be from SE to NW, the ship will be make a great number of turns while transiting to make it difficult to choose a side.  In fact during your transit because of the course of the Canal the ship will be headed SW for a period of time.

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13 minutes ago, BillB48 said:

Don't worry too much about chasing (or avoiding) the sun on a balcony during the day of your transit.  While the overall direction of the ship throughout the day will be from SE to NW, the ship will be make a great number of turns while transiting to make it difficult to choose a side.  In fact during your transit because of the course of the Canal the ship will be headed SW for a period of time.

Thanks for that information.  I appreciate it!

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2 hours ago, BillB48 said:

Don't worry too much about chasing (or avoiding) the sun on a balcony during the day of your transit.  While the overall direction of the ship throughout the day will be from SE to NW, the ship will be make a great number of turns while transiting to make it difficult to choose a side.  In fact during your transit because of the course of the Canal the ship will be headed SW for a period of time.

Thank you. I really believe people spend too much time worrying about side of ship, not only in the Canal, but in many other places, like Alaska. There is no magic spot to see the scenery...

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