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11-night Partial Panama Itinerary (Eurodam)


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Does anybody have any experience or opinion on the partial Panama canal cruises? I am considering the 11-night itinerary on the Eurodam for next January or February. Is partial entry into the canal even worth it? What about the late arrival in Aruba and early departure in Cartagena- is there time to enjoy them? Any opinion or critique of the itinerary is welcome. The 11-night itinerary is below. Thank you!
 

Day 1
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
Day 2
Little San Salvador, Bahamas
Arrives8:00am Departs3:00pm
Day 3
Cruising, At Sea
Day 4
Oranjestad, Aruba
Arrives1:00pm Departs11:00pm
Day 5
Curacao, Netherlands Antilles
Arrives8:00am Departs11:00pm
Day 6
Cruising, At Sea
Day 7
Cartagena, Colombia
Arrives7:00am Departs1:00pm
Day 8
Cristobal Pier, Panama
Arrives5:00am Departs5:00am
Day 8
Cruising, At Sea
Day 8
Gatun Lake, Panama
Arrives9:00am Departs10:00am
Day 8
Cruising, At Sea
Day 8
Cristobal Pier, Panama
Arrives1:00pm Departs1:00pm
Day 8
Colon, Panama
Arrives3:00pm Departs8:00pm
Day 9
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
Arrives6:30am Departs4:00pm
Day 10
Cruising, At Sea
Day 11
Cruising, At Sea
Day 12
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States

 

Edited by stickey_mouse
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15 minutes ago, stickey_mouse said:

Does anybody have any experience or opinion on the partial Panama canal cruises? I am considering the 11-night itinerary on the Eurodam for next January or February. Is partial entry into the canal even worth it? What about the late arrival in Aruba and early departure in Cartagena- is there time to enjoy them? Any opinion or critique of the itinerary is welcome. The 11-night itinerary is below. Thank you!

 

 

 

A partial transit is totally worth it if you want to see the workings of the Canal.  It's fascinating!  I've been though both directions and I'm still fascinated by it.  You'll see plenty with the partial transit.

 

Cartagena is always a short stop; has to do with the timing/location in regards to the Canal.  I don't think we've ever had a full day in Cartagena on a cruise that had the Canal on the itinerary.  Regarding Aruba, if you've never been, some is better than none.  I'm sure there will be an interesting tour to go on from the ship so you'll see/experience plenty of it.

 

Linda R.

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I have done the partial transit twice, and loved it both times.  Someday I will do the whole Canal.  Seeing the workings is most fascinating.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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We did the 10 day version so missed Cartegena, but this cruise was fabulous. We entered the locks in one area and took a ship tour into Panama City which included a stop at the other locks to watch a ship pass through. If you wanted to leave the ship, needed to take a shore excursion. Those not taking an excursion exited the locks and went to the point where the excursions ended. If you want to see the canal but have time/cost limitations this is a good option.

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There is a tour that is available on canal day that will take you from the ship in Gatun lake, through the Culebra (aka Galliard) cut and the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks to Panama City on a ferry boat.  Great way to see the rest of the canal without the added time, and significant cost, of a full transit sailing on a cruise ship.

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We did the 10-night on Zuiderdam almost four years ago, and I'd repeat the itinerary in a heartbeat.  It's still on my bucket list to do a full-transit, but seeing the canal up close and coming through the Gatun locks was a thrill. 

 

I was up at 5am as we waited to approach, and all over the ship that morning as we entered Gatun Lake.  We stayed on the ship to experience the return trip through the same locks.

 

I don't recall our time in Aruba with a late arrival as we did an excursion which included a good tour of the island as well as a semi-submersible sub, but that is another port stop I hope to get back to again.  Great island and lots to see.

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We did both the full transit and partial transit of the Canal, and I would definitely recommend either.  On the partial transit we got off the ship in Gatun Lake and went to see the new locks (which were not in operation yet).  Then the bus took us to Colon, where we had time to wander around before going back to the ship.  The Canal is such an amazing feat of engineering, it's definitely something to see!!

 

I would also recommend reading David McCullough's book "The Path between the Seas" before going to the Canal.  It's LONG and kind of dry, but really explains how the Canal came to be.  Even my DH who is not a big reader finished the book and found it interesting!

 

Laura

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11 hours ago, stickey_mouse said:

Does anybody have any experience or opinion on the partial Panama canal cruises? I am considering the 11-night itinerary on the Eurodam for next January or February. Is partial entry into the canal even worth it? What about the late arrival in Aruba and early departure in Cartagena- is there time to enjoy them? Any opinion or critique of the itinerary is welcome. The 11-night itinerary is below. Thank you!
 

Day 1
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
Day 2
Little San Salvador, Bahamas
Arrives8:00am Departs3:00pm
Day 3
Cruising, At Sea
Day 4
Oranjestad, Aruba
Arrives1:00pm Departs11:00pm
Day 5
Curacao, Netherlands Antilles
Arrives8:00am Departs11:00pm
Day 6
Cruising, At Sea
Day 7
Cartagena, Colombia
Arrives7:00am Departs1:00pm
Day 8
Cristobal Pier, Panama
Arrives5:00am Departs5:00am
Day 8
Cruising, At Sea
Day 8
Gatun Lake, Panama
Arrives9:00am Departs10:00am
Day 8
Cruising, At Sea
Day 8
Cristobal Pier, Panama
Arrives1:00pm Departs1:00pm
Day 8
Colon, Panama
Arrives3:00pm Departs8:00pm
Day 9
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
Arrives6:30am Departs4:00pm
Day 10
Cruising, At Sea
Day 11
Cruising, At Sea
Day 12
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States

 

I have done this one several times and I highly recommend this or the 10 day version.

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I have done the partial canal cruise and would highly recommend it.  Maybe some day I will to the full canal cruise, but the partial is definately worth it..................

Edited by doone
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I did the 10-day partial several years ago. It was a very memorable cruise. With that many at sea days, hopefully you will get a cruise director as awesome as the one I had. Unfortunately he retired soon after my cruise.

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13 hours ago, stickey_mouse said:

Does anybody have any experience or opinion on the partial Panama canal cruises? I am considering the 11-night itinerary on the Eurodam for next January or February. Is partial entry into the canal even worth it? What about the late arrival in Aruba and early departure in Cartagena- is there time to enjoy them? Any opinion or critique of the itinerary is welcome. The 11-night itinerary is below. Thank you!
 

Day 1
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
Day 2
Little San Salvador, Bahamas
Arrives8:00am Departs3:00pm
Day 3
Cruising, At Sea
Day 4
Oranjestad, Aruba
Arrives1:00pm Departs11:00pm
Day 5
Curacao, Netherlands Antilles
Arrives8:00am Departs11:00pm
Day 6
Cruising, At Sea
Day 7
Cartagena, Colombia
Arrives7:00am Departs1:00pm
Day 8
Cristobal Pier, Panama
Arrives5:00am Departs5:00am
Day 8
Cruising, At Sea
Day 8
Gatun Lake, Panama
Arrives9:00am Departs10:00am
Day 8
Cruising, At Sea
Day 8
Cristobal Pier, Panama
Arrives1:00pm Departs1:00pm
Day 8
Colon, Panama
Arrives3:00pm Departs8:00pm
Day 9
Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
Arrives6:30am Departs4:00pm
Day 10
Cruising, At Sea
Day 11
Cruising, At Sea
Day 12
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States

 

We did a similar cruise several years ago. The ship goes through the locks into Gatum Lake where we got an excursion that took us all the way through to the pacific coast from where they bused us back to the ship. 

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We did a 10 or 11 day S Carrib with HAL (partial transit) and loved it. Went back and did a full transit on NCL with the mother in law 😵 but also enjoyed that. Definitely worth the trip, either one (partial or full). Have a fabulous time!

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We just did this on the Eurodam in February right before COVID started shutting everything down.  We had previously done a full transit of the canal a couple of years ago.  The partial was 99% as good as the full transit.  You can take a shore excursion to see more of the canal or you can stay on board and watch the exit from the locks (the shore excursions return you by bus to a port outside of the canal).  Either way, you'll like it.  The canal is humid so if you are not a fan of humidity, stay on-board and enjoy seeing the exit from the canal.  There's the benefit of also seeing big ships enter the new locks.  Agree with poster who recommended the book to read before your trip.  They have someone come on board to provide narration/history, but it is hard to hear them sometimes depending on where you are on the ship.  Please, walk around the ship to see canal transit from all levels.  They will open the bow but don't forget to walk aft and look behind, as well as viewing it from upper decks and the promenade.  If your cabin is on a lower deck, pop back into your cabin so you can see out the window looking at the wall of the canal.

 

Cartagena - you can do a shore excursion and see some of the town or you can go to a little zoo they have right on the pier to see some wildlife close up.  Lots of birds, little monkeys, an anteater (never seen one before) and I think there were even capybaras.  Easy walk or there's a shuttle bus from the pier to the gift shop/zoo area.

 

Aruba - no problem with the late arrival.  You dock in town or close so you can walk around very easily.

 

We booked this cruise mainly to get away but both my husband and were surprised at how much we enjoyed it.  I think it ended up in the top 5 list of all of our cruises.  Would book it again in a heartbeat!

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I have enjoyed both the 10 and 11-day partial canal cruises several times.  Unlike others, I spend my canal day sitting on my aft balcony, some fully covered, and enjoying the photo opportunities without fighting the heat and crowds at the railings.  I leave my balcony only to grab a big plate of nachos once the ship arrives in Gatun Lake and then return to my shade, private bathroom, refrigerator filled with cold drinks, and unobstructed view of canal operations.

 

The ships begin staging for canal entrance while it is still dark, so an early rising is important to see the parking lot of ships.  Everybody passes through the canal into Gatun Lake where some passengers depart the ship for excursions, and then the ship returns through the canal to Colon to pick up those on excursions.  There are no other stops.

 

From personal experience, it is imperative that you keep your stateroom curtains closed to keep the sun from heating up your furniture and overcoming the AC. 

 

While in Costa Rica the next day, painters with long rollers will be covering all of the scrape marks.  This is especially evident on the white Princess ships.

 

Images below are entering the canal, stopping in Gatun Lake, and heading east through the canal.

 

https://www.rogerjett-photography.com/here/wp-content/gallery/panama-canal-gatun-locks-eastbound/pc050139-2.jpg

 

https://www.rogerjett-photography.com/here/wp-content/gallery/panama-canal-gatun-locks-westbound/PB260088-2.jpg

 

https://www.rogerjett-photography.com/here/wp-content/gallery/panama-canal-gatun-locks-westbound/pc050172-2.jpg

 

 

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On 1/11/2021 at 9:40 PM, stickey_mouse said:

What about the  . . .  early departure in Cartagena- is there time to enjoy  . . .?

 

We've done two full transits of the Canal (the second exactly a year ago today, as it happens), and both times our port calls to Cartagena were the same as the one you are considering: 7am-1pm.  As another poster noted above, the early departure is needed to ensure the ship reaches the Atlantic entrance to the Canal early the next morning.

 

Even with the half-day in Cartagena, you can really enjoy yourself.  For a first visit, I would highly recommend taking a private shore excursion (get some folks from your Roll Call) with one of the recommended private tour guides here on CC.  We used Dora the Explorer, who gets lots of recommendations here, and had an excellent time.  

 

On our second visit, we took a cab directly from the ship to the huge fortress of San Felipe de Barajas, and explored it on our own.   (If you do a city tour like the one with Dora, or even a ship's tour, you will see the fortress from the street, but you will not have time to climb up and go through it.)

 

enhance

 

On both visits, we had time before returning to the ship to check out the free little zoo and aviary back at the pier that is mentioned above.   Last time, we saw the most bizarre bird we've ever seen in our lives, the Andean c-o-c-k of the rock.  [CC censors that first word if it's typed out without the hyphens! 🤣]

 

enhance

 

I strongly second the recommendation to read The Path Between the Seas before you go; you will appreciate everything even more. 

 

Also, do check out the ports of call forums for the Panama Canal as well as the specific ports on your itinerary.  Lots of info and help in those forums.


Enjoy!

 

(photos by turtles06)

Edited by Turtles06
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January 15, 2020, I embarked on the Eurodam for such a cruise.  The itinerary was slightly different, but stops at Aruba and Curacao took place.  Excellent ports, both and the partial journey through the Canal is interesting and informative as well.  I booked this cruise for two specific reasons:  #1:  to cruise again with some friends and #2:  I hoped to see some of the new Canal, thinking that the Eurodam would not be using that passage--which she didn't.  I fulfilled both of those reasons.  

 

It was a great cruise.  It was my last one for 2020.  My crystal ball remains in the repair shop as to when the next one may be.  If ever.  

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