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Panama Canal with most interesting itinerary?


khuselid
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Hi all,

 

Our favorite line is Oceania but their full transit Canal itineraries are somewhat truncated for some reason (unless we want to do a longer cruise from SA). Which line includes more interesting ports on the gulf side, like Cozumel? We want the full transit and not that interested in ports on the western side. We've done quite a few cruises but never the Canal. We are 65 and 70 fairly active and would love something that explores the history of the area and the canal. Someone mentioned a train that runs along the canal??

 

Look forward to your responses and thanks!!

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39 minutes ago, khuselid said:

Hi all,

 

Our favorite line is Oceania but their full transit Canal itineraries are somewhat truncated for some reason (unless we want to do a longer cruise from SA). Which line includes more interesting ports on the gulf side, like Cozumel? We want the full transit and not that interested in ports on the western side. We've done quite a few cruises but never the Canal. We are 65 and 70 fairly active and would love something that explores the history of the area and the canal. Someone mentioned a train that runs along the canal??

 

Look forward to your responses and thanks!!

 

With the completion of the cruise dock at Fuerte Amador, Viking has an 11 day cruise from Ft Lauderdale that completes a full transit. Here is the link

 

https://www.vikingcruisescanada.com/oceans/cruise-destinations/caribbean-americas/classic-panama-canal-passage/index.html

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7 hours ago, khuselid said:

Someone mentioned a train that runs along the canal??

That would be perhaps not the fastest transcontinental railroad, but without a doubt the quickest transcontinental RR.  Completed in 1855 the Panama Railroad can get you across the continent in a little over an hour.  While the RR does skirt the edge of the Canal and glimpses of the Canal can be seen from the train, there is only two short areas where the railroad is actually running along the Canal where ship traffic can be easily seen.

 

It is a pleasant ride and a large part mostly natural scenery, but you really don't see a great deal of the Canal proper.

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The train ride is usually an excursion on a partial transit.  Most full transits do not have a port stop in Panama, although some may stay the day before of after in Colon.  Full transits not coming from or going to South America will stop in Cartagena or one of the ABC islands, and some in Limon, Costa Rica.  If you have done Puntarenas on the western side, you don’t need to do Limon.  My personal favorite on a canal transit is Puerto Quetzal, for the trip to Antigua, Guatemala.  EM

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@khuselid, by the way, if you are talking a full transit starting and ending in different US ports, the ships are required to stop at either Cartagena or the ABC islands to meet PVSA requirements. That may rule out stops at other locations you find more interesting.

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"More interesting ports" is definitely subjective and really depends on what you enjoy doing and find interesting.  Your example of Cozumel, for instance, doesn't excite me.  We've done two full transits of the Canal, and I've found the ports on the Pacific side to be more interesting, except for Cartagena, which we've visited twice and enjoyed both times.

 

I agree with @Essiesmom that Puerto Quetzal is a great port, as it allows you to visit Antigua.  I've also really enjoyed Puntarenas (terrific options to see the wildlife in Costa Rica), Mazatlan (the old city in particular), Huatulco (relaxing beach day in the middle of a port-intensive stretch) and whale watching in Cabo (a truly great experience if you are there when the whales are, which is much of the winter).

 

As for which cruise line "includes more interesting ports on the gulf side," you should take a look at the various lines that do Canal cruises, including HAL, Celebrity, Princess, and NCL.   Also Viking as noted above, and Nat Geo/Lindblad.    But since you specified you want a full transit, you may well find the ports on the eastern side limited; as @CruiserBruce explained, if you are going from one U.S. port to a different U.S. port, the ship has to stop in Colombia or at one of the ABC islands to satisfy the PVSA.  (Personally, as I noted above, Cartagena is an interesting port; lots of history.)

 

Given what you've posted, you might consider a partial transit if it gives you "more interesting ports" in the Gulf (if that's really a priority), and then take an excursion on a small boat through a good portion of the Canal that your cruise ship will not transit. 

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On 6/29/2021 at 1:12 PM, CruiserBruce said:

if you are talking a full transit starting and ending in different US ports, the ships are required to stop at either Cartagena or the ABC islands to meet PVSA requirements.

 

Just for the sake of complete accuracy:  the ships aren't required to stop at Cartagena, but anywhere in Colombia (or an ABC island).  We actually had a port call to Santa Marta, Colombia on our 2020 transit.  🙂   (We also then called at Cartagena, but we didn't need to.)  To be sure, Cartagena is by far the most visited of the Colombian ports on full Canal transits (and for good reason). 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/28/2021 at 9:37 PM, khuselid said:

Hi all,

 

Our favorite line is Oceania but their full transit Canal itineraries are somewhat truncated for some reason (unless we want to do a longer cruise from SA). Which line includes more interesting ports on the gulf side, like Cozumel? We want the full transit and not that interested in ports on the western side. We've done quite a few cruises but never the Canal. We are 65 and 70 fairly active and would love something that explores the history of the area and the canal. Someone mentioned a train that runs along the canal??

 

Look forward to your responses and thanks!!

Just booked Seabourn for 2022 - Fuerte Amador, up the Pacific side to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, back down and thru the canal with stops in Panama, Honduras, Belize + and ending in Miami. Not your typical ports.

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