Question regarding 10 day vs 14 day Panama Canal cruise. I do see that on the 14 or so Panama Canal cruises the ship makes it way up to a destination in CA and the 10 day does many of the islands we have already been to once and in some cases twice. My wife is limited to time during April when we like to travel and I was wondering what kind of introduction to the Panama Canal we get from the 10 day cruise and would we be better off waiting until we can do the 14 or 15 day to the West?
Peter, we did the Panama Canal trip back in November. It was a ten day trip that left from Puerto Rico and stopped in Aruba (been there, done that), but then included stops in Panama, Honduras, Costa Rica, and ended in Acapulco. I always wanted to stay at Las Brisas in Alcapulco (remember the movie "10")and see the cliff divers so we stayed five days there making it a two week trip.
To me, a Panama Canal cruise is all about the canal and the other stops are incidental. The passage takes nearly a full day and seeing the different parts of the canal (from the beautiful lakes to the dirt ditch), the operation of the locks, and the watershed that supports the canal made the trip for us.
Personally, I would not take a cruise all the way to San Diego (or LA)as those are areas that I have visited many times before. It just really depends on how much time you have - or want to spend.
Maybe someone wiser than me knows how you could get a better introduction to the Canal on a 14 day cruise as opposed to a 10 day cruise, but I can't see how. Check out how long you will be in port and what kind of tours are available. Our ship had tours to Panama City and two tours that concentrated on visits to the locks and a review of their operation.
We just completed a Transatantic cruise and I was a little concerned about getting bored spending five consecutive days at sea, but it was actually extremely relaxing and fulfilling (did I mention the green bikini?).
The point being, if you have been to a port already, stay on the ship and relax - you don't have to go ashore. You see a lot of posts that say the Ship is the destination - not the port. While I don't fully subscribe to that approach, there is some merit to it. Take some good books, sun tan lotion and chill until you come to a port you would like to visit.
But if you REALLY want to get an introduction to the canal, you can fly to Panama City and then swim the canal. The record time for the swim (as far as I know) was set in 1962 when Albert Oshiver swam it in 29 hours. He had to pay tolls based on the standard for ships and, for him, it came to 45 cents.
I am sure the rates have increased since then, but it would beat the price of a cruise and you would be one with canal - can you say oooommmm
fmattox has been there and has given me advice- he is currently cruising Hawaii right now...so post this again next week and he can give you some insight.I pulled up an old post I did in the General Cruise Chat Forum you can look there.
Anyway I know when I've looked into it I was told...go with Princess, make sure you go "through" the canal not just Miami port to leave and return Miami port. I look at not the total number of days the cruise is, but how many days we're in ports vs. out to sea. I don't want to be on the ship a lot of my days. We enjoy doing and seeing at the various ports...we don't do well relaxing by a pool. But that's us. Also the timing of the Panama Canal trips...it's not like they're offered year round. We already have a big cruise planned in Oct so we can't afford to do another trip in Jan or March. So we may have to go Oct or wait til '09.
That's okay...whenever we go ... it'll be great!
Thanks SailorJack and Cousins for your candid remarks regarding the Panama Canal.
I like the 10 day SailorJack and will keep that one in mind; my purpose was to get the feel of the canal and it appears one would on this one. I read your transatlantic post and was in stitches! On our April 8th on Explorer we did two ports we have done before and we still enjoyed the islands and did something different.
Cousins, I will keep fmattox in mind after his Hawaii trip and will check the General Cruise Chat as well. Will also keep in mind not to do a Fl to Fl cruise.
yes I'm back and in catching up, just came across your thread.
I think SailorJack's advice was excellent, as usual; a ten day is a great canal cruise--but go all the way through the canal. To me there is something anticlimactic about transiting up to Lake Gatun, then turning around and going back; although this will definitely give you an idea of how the canal works.
The first canal trip I took was in 2000; it was actually back-to-back canal and Mexican Riviera cruises (18 days) on Sea Princess. The canal trip was Ft. Lauderdale to Acapulco. But since I live near Los Angeles I figured it was easier to stay on and cruise home rather than go through the hassle of flying from Acapulco; and besides, I like longer cruises and lots of sea days. I liked the trip so much I'm doing it again next April, but only 15 days this time.
You don't mention where you live, but that, along with how long a cruise you want, would be big factors in your choice.
If you live near Florida or Southern California I would encourage you to do as I do, fly to the cruise, then sail home.
If you don't live near a port, then you really have more options since you will have to fly both ways anyway.
But I would encourage you to do the full canal transit, and preferably on a ship--swimming it dosen't sound like much of a vacation.
Rick, thanks for the post; this is our situation. Until my wife retires, we are limited to, at most, a 10 day cruise depending on how we can set it up. We are from the great State of Maine and in any case, flying both ways is the only option unless we do the cruise late enough in the season to cruise up to Maine; we are not getting many cruise ships; especially in Portland, Maine.
Seriously, we like to cruise in April; gives us something to look forward to beside the Loooooooooooooooong, coooooooooold, winters. If we did the 10, it appears we would go out of either Fl or Puerto Rico and end up on Mexican Riveria?? Not sure if we would do this 2008 or not but looking for suggestions..Also, lines to consider? Again, thanks to all the input.
Welcome Back !
Some friends of mine recently returned from a 10 day Holland America canal cruise. They had rave reviews. I would definitely recommend Princess, they are my favorite, or HAL. I believe you would not be disappointed in Princess. I liked HAL, but wasn't crazy about the food. As many have said, it is subjective, so I wouldn't let that be a big negative. Princess and HAL have immaculate ships, great service, and to me, Princess has great food. Best wishes and have a wonderful cruise!