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Thinking of February 10, 2023 10 day cruise to Panama Canal from Fort Lauderdale on Caribbean Princess for 55th anniversary. Any tips on choosing port or starboard side? Any excursions you can recommend and or any other information would be much appreciated. This cruise goes through The New Locks, what does that mean? Thanks in advance for your expertise. 

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3 hours ago, claudia814 said:

Thinking of February 10, 2023 10 day cruise to Panama Canal from Fort Lauderdale on Caribbean Princess for 55th anniversary. Any tips on choosing port or starboard side? Any excursions you can recommend and or any other information would be much appreciated. This cruise goes through The New Locks, what does that mean? Thanks in advance for your expertise. 

There are two locks. The Miraflores is the old locks. The new ones are wider for the bigger cargo ships and passenger ships. I am finding it hard to get a straight answer from the excursion people of which locks the one I am going is. I am on a B2B and if going thru the old locks I am going to cancel that cruise as I have been thru them

Kathy

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There are two sets of locks, the old and the new. The new locks were built to accommodate the huge ships of the modern world. I'd prefer being in the old locks. It really brings home what a marvelous accomplishment the building of the canal was.

 

If I had to pick, I'd pick port side, although I am not sure it matters going through the new locks.

 

In the old locks you pass very close to a five story building that is a visitor center. The terraces are filled with people waving to you and you wave back. A lot of the cruise passengers in their cabins on the port signs have signs saying where they are from or maybe how many times they've done the crossing.

 

miraflores-observation-deck-panama-canal

 

I've gotten teary eyed writing this because this brief interaction with the people on shore is so special. It feels like a little human kindness towards another and no matter how brief it is, it is a reminder of how we should treat each other; be happy to meet and greet strangers.

 

Be sure to read The Path Between The Seas by David McCullough before you go. I finished the book on board two days before we entered the PC.

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6 hours ago, rabin1 said:

There are two locks. The Miraflores is the old locks. The new ones are wider for the bigger cargo ships and passenger ships. I am finding it hard to get a straight answer from the excursion people of which locks the one I am going is. I am on a B2B and if going thru the old locks I am going to cancel that cruise as I have been thru them

Kathy

Coral and Island are only Princess ships small enough for the old locks 

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, claudia814 said:

Thinking of February 10, 2023 10 day cruise to Panama Canal from Fort Lauderdale on Caribbean Princess for 55th anniversary. Any tips on choosing port or starboard side? Any excursions you can recommend and or any other information would be much appreciated. This cruise goes through The New Locks, what does that mean? Thanks in advance for your expertise. 

We have done this cruise 3 times twice through the old locks and once the new. We have also done the full transit twice. All interesting. The ship enters the Agua Clara locks very early in the morning somewhere around 6am. The best views are on the upper decks and the promenade decks 7&8 where you can move around, with forward, side and aft views. If you want to stay put choose an aft or forward view location. There are actually 3 lock chambers to step up to Gatun Lake. It takes a few hours to transit the locks. The Caribbean Princess is too large for the original locks and must transit the larger Agua Clara Locks. If you look at a Google map these are the locks with the three large holding ponds adjacent to them and near Ft. Davis. Port or starboard really makes no difference. An aft view balcony cabin would provide nice stay put views. If I remember correctly the buildings are on the starboard side as you enter. If you remain on your cabin's balcony you will miss lots of views.

There is lots of information on line and some books about the P.C. which will help you understand the entire building process and the post panamax new locks.

Once through the locks the ship stops in Gatun Lake. Those on ship excursions are tendered ashore. No one else is allowed off the ship. No private excursions. Choose your ship excursion early. The full transit on a small boat will give you a full view all the way to the Pacific side. Embera Indian village is also interesting. It is set up for tourists. We did the walking tour of Panama City once also nice. Note it's a long day. Once the ship is cleared of tours and the Captain receives clearance from the authorities the ship exits Gatun Lake back through the locks and docks at Cristobol. Tour busses return passengers to the ship in Cristobol. There was a large tent set up on the pier where local vendors were selling items and there was some local folk entertainment. Tip, bring rain gear. Prepare for hot humid weather.

Trivia fact. A ship traveling through the canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific actually sails Northwest to Southeast.

Edited by skynight
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Skynight, explains it very well. If this is your first time and maybe your only time through the locks, I would go with the old locks. If you can, do the full transit. The Coral and Island Princess make this trip. From the east entrance, you only go thru one lock on the Caribbean Princess into Gatun Lake and then back out to Ft Lauderdale. Port or Starboard, personal preference. My cabin is always on the Starboard side. In and out of ports, the canal or other interesting areas, I will be on deck moving all around to take pictures. As for excursions, read through the Panama Canal forum and see what peaks your interest. 

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2 hours ago, skynight said:

We have done this cruise 3 times twice through the old locks and once the new. We have also done the full transit twice. All interesting. The ship enters the Agua Clara locks very early in the morning somewhere around 6am. The best views are on the upper decks and the promenade decks 7&8 where you can move around, with forward, side and aft views. If you want to stay put choose an aft or forward view location. There are actually 3 lock chambers to step up to Gatun Lake. It takes a few hours to transit the locks. The Caribbean Princess is too large for the original locks and must transit the larger Agua Clara Locks. If you look at a Google map these are the locks with the three large holding ponds adjacent to them and near Ft. Davis. Port or starboard really makes no difference. An aft view balcony cabin would provide nice stay put views. If I remember correctly the buildings are on the starboard side as you enter. If you remain on your cabin's balcony you will miss lots of views.

There is lots of information on line and some books about the P.C. which will help you understand the entire building process and the post panamax new locks.

Once through the locks the ship stops in Gatun Lake. Those on ship excursions are tendered ashore. No one else is allowed off the ship. No private excursions. Choose your ship excursion early. The full transit on a small boat will give you a full view all the way to the Pacific side. Embera Indian village is also interesting. It is set up for tourists. We did the walking tour of Panama City once also nice. Note it's a long day. Once the ship is cleared of tours and the Captain receives clearance from the authorities the ship exits Gatun Lake back through the locks and docks at Cristobol. Tour busses return passengers to the ship in Cristobol. There was a large tent set up on the pier where local vendors were selling items and there was some local folk entertainment. Tip, bring rain gear. Prepare for hot humid weather.

Trivia fact. A ship traveling through the canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific actually sails Northwest to Southeast.

Thank you very much for this info now if I could only get Princess to tell me which locks. I am supposed to go on the one this Dec 12.

Thanks again

Kathy

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5 minutes ago, rabin1 said:

Thank you very much for this info now if I could only get Princess to tell me which locks. I am supposed to go on the one this Dec 12.

 

If you aren't on the Coral Princess or Island Princess you will be using the new locks.

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3 minutes ago, scottca075 said:

 

If you aren't on the Coral Princess or Island Princess you will be using the new locks.

How do you know that since the excursion people can;t even answer me? Asking not being mean just can;t get answer from them. On Island Princess. As I said in my first post if old locks going to cancel cruise

thanks

Kathy

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14 minutes ago, rabin1 said:

How do you know that since the excursion people can;t even answer me? Asking not being mean just can;t get answer from them.

took logging in , no problem and my saved cruises are back

 

did you try this ???

 

Interior from$ 799*
Guests 3 & 4: $499
Save
 
Sun, Dec 12, 2021 on Island Princess
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6 minutes ago, voljeep said:

took logging in , no problem and my saved cruises are back

 

did you try this ???

 

Interior from$ 799*
Guests 3 & 4: $499
Save
 
Sun, Dec 12, 2021 on Island Princess

Thanks. I didn;t look for so long. Wonder why excursions doesn;t know this. Thanks again

Kathy

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17 minutes ago, rabin1 said:

How do you know that since the excursion people can;t even answer me? Asking not being mean just can;t get answer from them. On Island Princess. As I said in my first post if old locks going to cancel cruise

 

I don't know for certain, but there are limited slots available for ships to go through each set of locks. The ships using the new locks tend to be very big and therefore pay more in tolls. If I was the ACP I'd direct ships capable of using the old locks through the old locks to allow another slot for the new locks to be open.

 

Even on a cruise scheduled specifically for the new locks, I'd not be surprised if that changed during the cruise as a result of resource allocation. The ACP will do what is best for the canal and all stakeholders.

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11 minutes ago, scottca075 said:

 

I don't know for certain, but there are limited slots available for ships to go through each set of locks. The ships using the new locks tend to be very big and therefore pay more in tolls. If I was the ACP I'd direct ships capable of using the old locks through the old locks to allow another slot for the new locks to be open.

 

Even on a cruise scheduled specifically for the new locks, I'd not be surprised if that changed during the cruise as a result of resource allocation. The ACP will do what is best for the canal and all stakeholders.

Thanks

Maybe I better worry about going thru any locks right now............lol I wish the CDC would get their act together already and DeSantis would quit being a PITA

Kathy

 

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Old locks on the Island Princess, if possible, is magnificent.  It has been my all time favorite cruise.  The history, ports, beauty... all spectacular!  I only had one issue with the entire cruise; in Cartagena I didn't have an excursion booked and was just going to walk around.  I had my at-the-time 6 month old strapped to my chest and just wanted to walk around and see the area close to the ship.  In the gated ship area it was nice with some interesting stuff and tropical birds to look at.  But once leaving the gates I was bombarded with taxi drivers and people pushing items and car rides on me.  They were touching me and the baby and I had enough so I went back to the ship.  Just my two cents.  But I highly recommend the cruise!  

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Wow, thank you all, I really appreciate the information, you’re the best! Glad I spoke with you before booking because I find the old locks much more interesting and will book that trip. Thank you. 

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This advise is the best place to view......................I did this cruise and going through the locks takes many hours. People will be crowded on the forward outdoor decks. It will get very HOT and  Humid. Go to the FITNESS CENTER deck 16 which faces forward and is air conditioned. Your view will be above the crowded outdoor deck and totally unobstructed. The forward wall of the GYM is all glass, marvelous view. 

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18 hours ago, scottca075 said:

There are two sets of locks, the old and the new. The new locks were built to accommodate the huge ships of the modern world. I'd prefer being in the old locks. It really brings home what a marvelous accomplishment the building of the canal was.

 

If I had to pick, I'd pick port side, although I am not sure it matters going through the new locks.

 

In the old locks you pass very close to a five story building that is a visitor center. The terraces are filled with people waving to you and you wave back. A lot of the cruise passengers in their cabins on the port signs have signs saying where they are from or maybe how many times they've done the crossing.

 

miraflores-observation-deck-panama-canal

 

I've gotten teary eyed writing this because this brief interaction with the people on shore is so special. It feels like a little human kindness towards another and no matter how brief it is, it is a reminder of how we should treat each other; be happy to meet and greet strangers.

 

Be sure to read The Path Between The Seas by David McCullough before you go. I finished the book on board two days before we entered the PC.

Thank you looking forward to reading this book. 

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If you want to do a tour from the canal area, you need to do a ship excursion.  Once through the locks and into the lake, the ship anchors in an area to the left of the locks and passengers take a short water shuttle.  No one other than Princess booked excursions passengers are allowed off the ship.  Those doing an excursion here will miss the return trip back through the locks.  When the ship returns back through the locks, balcony passengers have the opposite view that they had on the original time through.  Once through the lock the ship docks at Cristobal for a few hours.  Passengers can get off and have a look around,  The passengers that did the excursions will rejoin the ship in Cristobal. 

 

There will be a local guide on the ship doing information announcements over the PA system as the ship goes through the locks.

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Posted (edited)

If the ship is over 106 feet wide (beam) it will be using the new locks.  Have been full transit, east to west, on the Coral Princess doing the old locks.   The old locks are flooded (no pun intended) with history.  Highly recommend the old locks, especially the first time doing the Panama Canal.  Best cruise of them all.  Loved the Coral.

Edited by earlydiner
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I've been the old locks both ways and several times.  I never stay in the cabin but roam around the open decks for various views.  I will admit I did stay in the cabin once as the ship was being lowered--our cabin was an outside on Plaza deck and I just wanted to see what the "view" was like as the ship was lowered--seemed very close to the wall when one is sitting on the large sill of the window!

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I did this same cruise on the Caribbean Princess in November 2019. It was a terrific cruise and if I had to choose, I'd be on the port side. The are some excursions to indigenous villages that I've heard are terrific. I did a cooking school excursion in Costa Rica - fabulous! Have a great time - we did!

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