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Panama canal cruise

Panama canal cruise

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Old Nov 30, 18, 10:58 pm
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Panama canal cruise

I'm planning to go on a Panama Canal cruise sometime next year. I searched the forum and didn't find a whole lot of information on these, so looking for some advice. My questions are somewhat generic, but I would love to hear about the experiences of people who have done this trip.

1) I plan to go by myself on this particular trip. Which cruise lines will have the best options for single occupancy cabins (or the lowest premium for a single traveler in a double-occupancy cabin?) Prefer outside view or balcony.

2) I have asthma. It seems nobody does completely non-smoking ships anymore, but several cruise lines at least prohibit smoking in cabins, on balconies and in most public areas. Who is best in this regard, and who should I avoid?

3) To me, the two-week cruise seems to be the ideal length. Any reasons not to?

4) Any recommendations for shore excursions and things to do on this trip, either via the cruise lines or independently?
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Old Dec 1, 18, 4:20 pm
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Most of the Panama Canal cruises are 14- 15 days.....at least those that actually traverse the whole canal.

While I am sure you will be getting some good advice here....with your questions and concerns,if ever there was a reason to engage a good cruise Travel Agent this would be the time.
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Old Dec 1, 18, 8:52 pm
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Originally Posted by david55 View Post
Most of the Panama Canal cruises are 14- 15 days.....at least those that actually traverse the whole canal.

While I am sure you will be getting some good advice here....with your questions and concerns,if ever there was a reason to engage a good cruise Travel Agent this would be the time.
I'm planning a two-week cruise, and yes, I would want to traverse the whole canal. Probably leaving from the west coast and disembarking in Florida; I live in Florida.

As for "a good cruise travel agent", do you have a recommendation?
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Old Dec 1, 18, 10:00 pm
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Originally Posted by txviking View Post
I'm planning a two-week cruise, and yes, I would want to traverse the whole canal. Probably leaving from the west coast and disembarking in Florida; I live in Florida.

As for "a good cruise travel agent", do you have a recommendation?
I suggest that you sign up for free access at www.vacationstogo.com. Even if you elect to book your cruise via a different booking channel, signing up will let you immediately see all Panama Canal cruises, and will let you review the current smoking policies of all major cruise lines. I prefer to cruise with Celebrity because of their very restrictive smoking policy. Oceania also has a very restrictive smoking policy. Both lines have a few 2019 cruises from California to Florida, or vice versa.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 6:20 am
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Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
I suggest that you sign up for free access at www.vacationstogo.com.
I second the recommendation for general information purposes. The site is the best I've found for easy research. Tapping on column headings will sort by that particular category. Their "Custom Search" function (link on the left side of the opening page) really lets one pinpoint things.

I've used them for lots of trips over many years. They aren't a hand-holding face-to-face agency, but the few times I've had an issue they've quickly and competently handled it.
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Old Dec 2, 18, 6:41 pm
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Panama

First--congratulations. We did full transit on the Coral Princess about 6 years ago and it was terrific. They were still building the new locks--which we could see. The Coral was the biggest ship that could do the locks at the time. Princess provided great talks on the history of Panama and the canal. During transit, there was a knowledgeable speaker piped out onto the decks so they described what you were seeing during transit.

Vacationstogo is an easy site to find cruises on--but once I narrow down what I want, I take it to a travel agent (well, LOL, that's my daughter, but I did use other TAs before she became one). TAs can sometimes add perks and such. Plus you have a "real person" who has your back if things go wrong. Plus, a good one will try to watch the sales in case the fare goes lower than you booked for or help you rebook if you happen to find a better fare.

Several lines are now providing singles only cabins. The lines considered best for single travelers are Norwegian--especially the Epic. Holland American Koningsdam. Royal Caribbean Quantum class ships, Crystal, and Seabourn. Sometimes there are sales for singles.

Of course, you can book on any cruise ship that suits you but usually you will pay for two. Some of the lines listed above don't charge so much for singles.

Ask anything!
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Old Dec 3, 18, 8:08 am
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Generally speaking, without checking every line, cruise lines have almost universally banned smoking in cabins and in verandas. A few still allow limited smoking in casinos but even that is slowly but surely being eliminated. Most lines today permit smoking only in limited outdoor areas that are generally isolated and easy to avoid. A few, like Silversea, have cigar lounges but again easy to avoid.

The majority of full transits of the Panama Canal are during the shoulder/changeover months of March-April and September-October as the lines move from the Caribbean to Alaska and the Alaska to Caribbean. There are more 14+ day cruises that go from Florida to California in early to late spring or California to Florida in early to late fall than can be easily examined here. Unfortunately most mass market lines, except for the occasional sale, really don’t offer much in relief for the solo cruiser. That said relatively speaking the shoulder/changeover cruises are about the least expensive full transits as you can find. A few lines, and it would take a search to find, run full transits during the Christmas and New Years time frame. Since there are so few and it is the holiday season these cruises can be fairly expensive. Might suggest Silversea as they often have the lowest solo cruiser supplement, around 25%, on selected cruises.

While we have 25 years of cruising experience most of that has been on Holland America and now for the last seven years on Silversea so I can only speak of our experience and my general understanding of other lines. We’ve only done a partial transit of the Panama Canal and while I’d love to do a full transit I haven’t been able to find one that works for us from both timing and cost. Still on the bucket list.
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Last edited by Randyk47; Dec 4, 18 at 7:33 am
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Old Dec 10, 18, 9:08 am
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Article

I just came across this article on single cruising:

https://www.oyster.com/articles/6117...5f14c6497d0a60
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Old Dec 11, 18, 8:46 am
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I say research different lines for cabins & smoking policies that would be acceptable to you (I'm sure Cruise Critic has done write-ups on smoking policies; I haven't checked for one lately) and then sign up on cruiseline websites and maybe a couple of travel agencies so that when a cruiseline offers a sale on single supplements etc, you'll be aware.

We did a Panama canal transit in Oct 2008 for my husband's 40th birthday - San Diego to FLL (I think) on Holland America Westerdam. We loved the cruise but decided that ship was too big for us (1900 pax?). We really prefer small ships. I'd love to do the Panama Canal again but I want to go through the new locks and I would think the only way to guarantee that would be to sail on a ship too big for the original locks and I won't do that. Ah well.

Make sure you read Path Between the Seas by David McCullough before/during your trip if you're at all interested in the history & engineering of the canal - fantastic book!!
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Old Dec 13, 18, 12:01 pm
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Originally Posted by Hoyaheel View Post
I say research different lines for cabins & smoking policies that would be acceptable to you (I'm sure Cruise Critic has done write-ups on smoking policies; I haven't checked for one lately) and then sign up on cruiseline websites and maybe a couple of travel agencies so that when a cruiseline offers a sale on single supplements etc, you'll be aware.

We did a Panama canal transit in Oct 2008 for my husband's 40th birthday - San Diego to FLL (I think) on Holland America Westerdam. We loved the cruise but decided that ship was too big for us (1900 pax?). We really prefer small ships. I'd love to do the Panama Canal again but I want to go through the new locks and I would think the only way to guarantee that would be to sail on a ship too big for the original locks and I won't do that. Ah well.

Make sure you read Path Between the Seas by David McCullough before/during your trip if you're at all interested in the history & engineering of the canal - fantastic book!!
Thanks -- I'm in the middle of doing that research, but it's also helpful to hear about real-world experiences. So I'm using Flyertalk as one more resource. I've also signed up with a few cruise lines for newsletters to look for promotions.

I'll look for that book -- thanks for the tip!
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Old Dec 18, 18, 7:40 am
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I second the recommendation for the Path Between the Seas. Great read. I haven't traversed the canal but was in Panama and took a tour. The infrastructure is amazing.
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Old Jan 5, 19, 1:51 pm
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You have a PM!
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Old Jan 8, 19, 4:09 pm
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You may want to look for an itinerary that stops in Colon, Panama to take a tour of the locks. It is neat to check the out the locks from land in addition to doing the full transit. I'd advise an independent tour operator like Robtards to visit both Gatun and Agua Clara locks. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUser..._Province.html

I took a repositioning cruise through the locks on Celebrity Infinity and was fine in one of the newer oceanview cabins added during a refurbishment. The windows are larger than normal oceanview cabin and it was nice getting out of the humidity and heat. Speaking of, Celebrity opens the crew areas at the front of the ship for end to end canal crossing (a day long affair) and it can be really hot out there and quite crowded. There are usually a few people who faint and are taken out on stretchers. An officer recommended enjoying parts of the transit from the Promenade deck where there are lounge chairs to rest and you can actually get a pretty good sense of rising and falling through the locks. The view from the back of the ship towards the locks after exiting is also nice view if it is accessible (near aft buffet area on Celebrity Millennium class).
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Old Jan 15, 19, 6:47 am
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Just be careful of the weather. My friends live in Costa Rica and in September/October/November is the height of the rainy season for them and Panama. Several years ago Hurricane Otto hit 'em hard. The Hurricane Season starts in June for the Caribbean.
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Old Jan 15, 19, 7:23 am
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Originally Posted by freecia View Post
You may want to look for an itinerary that stops in Colon, Panama to take a tour of the locks. It is neat to check the out the locks from land in addition to doing the full transit. I'd advise an independent tour operator like Robtards to visit both Gatun and Agua Clara locks. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUser..._Province.html

I took a repositioning cruise through the locks on Celebrity Infinity and was fine in one of the newer oceanview cabins added during a refurbishment. The windows are larger than normal oceanview cabin and it was nice getting out of the humidity and heat. Speaking of, Celebrity opens the crew areas at the front of the ship for end to end canal crossing (a day long affair) and it can be really hot out there and quite crowded. There are usually a few people who faint and are taken out on stretchers. An officer recommended enjoying parts of the transit from the Promenade deck where there are lounge chairs to rest and you can actually get a pretty good sense of rising and falling through the locks. The view from the back of the ship towards the locks after exiting is also nice view if it is accessible (near aft buffet area on Celebrity Millennium class).
Our partial transit of the Panama Canal was on Celebrity in March. Living in south central Texas we weren’t bothered in the least by the heat and humidity though cruise friends from Portland, Oregon thought it was oppressive. We got several recommendations from the crew and staff to go aft on the same deck as the buffet for the transit through the locks. Since the ship lined up very early we were up by about 5:00 AM and out on deck by 5:30 AM for sunrise and the start of the transit. We staked out a table aft and stayed out there for the whole transit through the locks. It was easy to get coffee and eventually breakfast. Part of our party of eight tried to experience the locks from their veranda but discovered they were spending much of the time looking at the concrete walls of the lock so they eventually joined us. As I recall once we cleared the locks and took up a holding position in Gatun Lake around 10:00 AM we went back to bed for a couple of hours. We chose not to take a tour that day. For the return transit back to the Atlantic/Caribbean side we just kind of wandered around the ship with a couple of cool drinks in hand to catch the views. A great experience but still would like a full transit. Might add we did the full Suez Canal a year ago and it is very interesting but way different.
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