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Celebrity Constellation cruise onJan 24, 2022 won't be going through Panama Canal, instead offering a local ferry into canal.


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You're better off doing a tour of the Lock facilities and seeing the locks in action. I found that tour really interesting and was glad I was able to do the tour PRIOR to going through the locks. 

If your tour includes visiting the locks landside AND a crossing then I can see it being a very interesting tour. If you're just going through the initial locks, circling around and then back, I personally would skip it for a tour of the locks itself.

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We have toured the lock facility and have taken a cruise through the locks from the Pacific to the Atlantic.  We also have a Feb 2023 Panama Canal & Southern Caribbean booked.  That cruise does not go through the complete set of locks but does go into the locks to Gatun lake & then turns around and exits. 
 

We loved the day spent transiting the canal and would do it again if the timing worked for us.  It doesn’t so the next best thing for us is a itinerary with a partial transit.
 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I checked the tours that are listed (At least the ones I can see without an actual booking) and I didn't see a tour with a description that actually said it was going through the locks. If you're talking about a private tour, that's another thing. These are the two tours related to the locks:

*

Wonders of Engineering: Panama Canal Locks and Culebra Cut Cruise
Board a local ferry and venture into the Panama Canal to experience the unforgettable sensation of crossing between two oceans in one day.
*

Panama City Tour & Miraflores Locks
Journey through the ages to discover the very first European city established on the Pacific Coast of the Americas.

 

If it were me I'd take the Panama City & Miraflores Locks tour, which is what I did on my Canal cruise. This way you get to see the locks and a small glimpse of Panama City. Personally, I would find it strange to get off one boat just to get on another boat to go through the locks. TBH, the experience of going through the locks is nothing, you don't really feel anything. What really was cool was being on a Panamax size ship and watching it squeeze through with literally only inches away from the lock walls. The fascination is being on a giant ship that JUST fits in the lock.   The transit itself is nothing;furthermore, I don't see the purpose of circling around the Gatun Lake in ANOTHER boat when you're whole trip is on a ship to begin with. By taking a tour of the locks you actually get to see from land ships going through, which to me, what's more interesting. 

Edited by kwokpot
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We have done a  cruise that did  a one lock transit..It was  a really amazing experience..

 

Cruise then offered various tours from Gatun Lake ...not sure if I would like the ferry  trip but loved a day long tour that  had great stops and great views of the Canal

 

Suggest op read The Path Between the Seas before you go.  Very informative!

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We did the ferry that takes you through the canal and loved it!!  Be warned that if you choose to do this do it with Celebrity and don't take a private tour.  Our tour was delayed several hours due to "scheduling issues" with the ferries and we got back to the ship several hours after the ship was scheduled to depart.  Of course the ship waited for us.  They even announced to us that they would keep the dinner buffet open late to make sure we got our dinner.  From what we heard it is very typical to have delays in the ferry tours.  You only take the ferry one way and then take a bus back to the ship.   

 

We are now booked on a full transit cruise for Oct 2021 (not sure this will happen) which is a lift and shift from Oct 2020.  Someday I hope we get to do the full transit!

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1 hour ago, hcat said:

We have done a  cruise that did  a one lock transit..It was  a really amazing experience..

 

Cruise then offered various tours from Gatun Lake ...not sure if I would like the ferry  trip but loved a day long tour that  had great stops and great views of the Canal

 

Suggest op read The Path Between the Seas before you go.  Very informative!

We did this tour years ago and it was fantastic!  They bussed us to the Pacific side, and we transited all the way back to the Atlantic side.  It was a bit interesting as we actually had armed escort riding along-side the bus portion.  

 

I second the suggestion to read The Path Between the Seas prior to sailing.  Absolutely fascinating what they went through to get this canal built!  By the way, it is a long book, so plan ahead.

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We did the same thing except we ferried all the way to the pacific side and then bussed back to the ship.  I also recommend reading Path Between the Seas!

Great excursion that you will remember for a lifetime.

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3 hours ago, WestLakeGirl said:

So are you saying that the OP should, or shouldn’t, take the ferry?

Having not taken the ferry I couldn’t 👍 or  👎.   I was sharing a alternative itinerary that does go into the locks and is the same length as the OPs itinerary.

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The cruises we have been on only did partial transits. On one trip we took the train ride to the Pacific coast, and a bus back. On another trip we took the ferry from Lake Gatun to the Pacific coast going through the Mira Flores locks. Both trips were great. It is amazing going through a lock on a small ferry with a giant cargo carrier looming over you. Be aware this is a long day. If it is the same trip we took they do serve food on the ferry for lunch.  BigRedFan mentioned reading "The Path Between the Seas" before going. I recommend this as well. It gives you a lot of perspective. 

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We took the Celebrity shore excursion that involved the ferry tour.

 

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Our ship (Horizon) docked at Colon and a bus took us to the Pacific side where we boarded a ferry.  The ferry went through 2 sets of locks, through Gaillard Cut, and then eventually we got back on to the bus somewhere around Gatun Lake.

 

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It was long, but it was nice.  Next time I want to do the full transit on a Celebrity cruise ship.

 

dsc00286.thumb.jpg.1c067fe9ef2f2052083ec0b034c70213.jpg

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I would do it.  I liked the smaller ship experience.  The part that we missed was transiting through the middle of the lake.  Not a big deal.  I think that the smaller ship experience is better than being on the cruise ship.

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20 hours ago, kayakgranny said:

anyone done this?  is it worth spending day on ferry?  8am to 6 pm?

 

Yes,  we had a memorable time on the ferry.  Good way to see the canal. 

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The experience of being on a cruise ship and going through the old locks is truly amazing.  I felt a real sense of history.  Separately we toured the new locks from Colon.  Impressive but not the same feel as squeezing in and going through on Infinity a few years back.

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We took the Wonders of Engineering ship excursion in February 2020. We were on the Reflection. We wanted to experience the locks. It was a full day but we thought it was well worth it. I’d recommend moving around the boat to experience and see the opening of the locks, touching the sides of the locks and being followed by a huge container vessel. 

 

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On 4/30/2021 at 11:10 AM, kayakgranny said:

anyone done this?  is it worth spending day on ferry?  8am to 6 pm?

 

 

With the caveat that folks not booked on this cruise (including yours truly) can't see all the shorex offered or their descriptions, if you are asking about a small boat that will take you through the entire Canal or even some of the locks, I personally would say it would be worth it, because the Canal is amazing.  (We've done two full transits.)  Your cruise isn't even a partial transit of the Canal, so without that shorex, it doesn't look like you will experience any part of transiting the Canal at all.  Whether it's worth it depends on whether you are interested in experiencing the Canal.

 

Also, please note that there's a dedicated Panama Canal forum in the Ports of Call forums, at the link below, where you'll find a great deal of info about the Canal and can also ask questions.  There are some true Canal experts who post regularly in that forum and reply to questions.

 

 https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/54-panama-canal/

 

In fact, someone else recently asked about a shorex from Colon called "WONDERS OF ENGINEERING: PANAMA CANAL LOCKS AND CULEBRA CUT CRUISE," and one of the Canal experts concluded his reply with this: "the tour is a good way to see some of the more important parts of the Canal, particularly if your cruise is only stopping at Colon and not entering the Canal."

 

 

And I definitely agree that reading The Path Between the Seas is a must before transiting the Canal.

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