Panama Canal round trip from Miami

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#1
ontario
36 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
We are thinking of doing the 10 day Sunfarer in December and would like any comments from people who have done this cruise. In particular does the cruise up to the Gatun Lake give you a true sense of the wonder of the achievement and the scope of the canal??
Any advise on shore excursions would also be appreciated.

Thanks
#2
Space Coast FL
24,973 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
Originally posted by armfool
We are thinking of doing the 10 day Sunfarer in December and would like any comments from people who have done this cruise. In particular does the cruise up to the Gatun Lake give you a true sense of the wonder of the achievement and the scope of the canal??
Any advise on shore excursions would also be appreciated.

Thanks
It doesn't give you a look at the Gaillard/Culebra Cut, or the Pacific end Pedro Miguel or Miraflores locks from on board. The Cut constituted the major part of the effort of building the canal.

OTOH, the partial canal cruise does give you a chance to do shore excursions, which we could not do on a full transit. I believe one excursion is a train ride to the Pacific end, but can't say what you see on it.
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#3
Seattle, WA
2,562 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Originally posted by armfool
We are thinking of doing the 10 day Sunfarer in December and would like any comments from people who have done this cruise. In particular does the cruise up to the Gatun Lake give you a true sense of the wonder of the achievement and the scope of the canal??
Any advise on shore excursions would also be appreciated.

Thanks
FYI, this is round trip Ft. Lauderdale. HAL doesn't operate out of Miami.
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DBA
#4
105,275 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Welcome to Cruise Critic.

HAL has the Zuiderdam cruising round trip out of Ft Lauderdale.

You do get to see onloy the first set of locks as you enter the canal.

But if you choose to do a tour once you anchor at Gatun Lake you will not return to the ship there and view the locks again as the ship leaves the canal. Instead your tour will end in Colon/Crystobal.

Some of the tours are the train trip to the Pacific side -- also return by train. Another takes you by train to the Pacific side and you return by bus.
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#5
Central FL
8,292 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
I would say if you are not a canal engineering enthusiast this cruise via one lock would give you an idea of how it works. You could always watch the making of the canal on History Channel. pancanal.com has a webcam that lets you view ships actually going through the locks. We have pictures taken by cruisecritic members of our cruise on the Amsterdam via the webcams.
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Carol
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#6
Brooklyn, NY
2,419 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
We took this cruise last January and loved it. We took the Canal Experience excursion which takes you by bus to a smaller boat that then goes thru all of the locks. You get an "up close & personal" view of the locks and can even reach out & touch them--it was a long day, but well worth it. Others have raved about their trip to the Embera Indian Village. Have a great cruise!
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#7
Space Coast FL
24,973 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
Originally posted by Love the beach
We took the Canal Experience excursion which takes you by bus to a smaller boat that then goes thru all of the locks. You get an "up close & personal" view of the locks and can even reach out & touch them--it was a long day, but well worth it.
How long a day? On our full transit we entered the Gatun locks very early (about 6:30a) and didn't clear the Miraflores lock until approximately 4:30p. To go through the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks twice and the Cut twice must take a lot of time. About what time did you get back to the ship?
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#8
SC
1,376 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
According to the shorex for that trip it's a 7 hour tour. that is 'long' - you only go through once and come back by 'air conditioned' land transport to the boat
#9
Space Coast FL
24,973 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
Originally posted by momatibm
According to the shorex for that trip it's a 7 hour tour. that is 'long' - you only go through once and come back by 'air conditioned' land transport to the boat
Thanks! We're thinking about doing a partial this winter.
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#10
Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama
1,194 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
In particular does the cruise up to the Gatun Lake give you a true sense of the wonder of the achievement and the scope of the canal??
Any advise on shore excursions would also be appreciated.
I did the lectures on the cruise last Spring on VOLENDAM and last fall and this spring on ZUIDERDAM. I think it's a great itinerary and if you don't get "a true sense of the wonder of the achievement and scope of the canal" . . . you're sleeping in on Canal day! I've got lots of thoughts on shore excursions . . . I've been on almost all of them . . . at http://richarddetrich.wordpress.com/canal-cruise/

I'm not doing the Canal this year . . . so I have no vested interest, other than you having a fantastic cruise!

Regards, Richard
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Richard Detrich - Port & Canal Lecturer & Author
#11
Wichita Falls, TX
543 Posts
Joined Sep 2000
Richard - are you by chance doing the Canal NEXT year We are doing our second partial transit in January, this time on Zuiderdam, and would so love to have someone along who will pass along the knowledge that we know can make it even more special.

Love your website!
Sandy
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#12
Fredericksburg, va. USA
81,027 Posts
Joined May 2001
If your ship goes into the lake, there's no need to spend hours and hours in the MAJOR heat, and pay all that money for an excursion. You will see all you need to, and the canal navigator gives a running commentary of all things "canal" while you're entering the locks. Very informative!
And, if you stay on the ship, many will go on the excursions, leaving the ship totally uncrowded and pleasant for the day!
#13
ontario
36 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Thanks folks for all your input to answer my questions re Panama cruising.
I guess in the final analysis I have to decide how to get the best out of the trip to suit our particular interests.
#14
105,275 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Originally posted by armfool
Thanks folks for all your input to answer my questions re Panama cruising.
I guess in the final analysis I have to decide how to get the best out of the trip to suit our particular interests.
Something you have never answered -- are you on HAL??
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Cruising is a wonderful way to enjoy retirement!
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#15
Sugar Land, TX
5,843 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Originally posted by Krazy Kruizers
Something you have never answered -- are you on HAL??
The only other board s/he posted this question on is the Royal Caribbean board. However, RC's Jewel doesn't do a partial PC transit anymore. They dock in Cristobal and you take a ferry to Gatun Lake if you are interested in seeing the locks. April 2009 was the last cruise (if I remember correctly) that RC offered for a partial transit.

If armfool wants a partial transit on the cruise ship, RC is out of the running.
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#16
Las Cruces, New Mexico
4,574 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Richard, Will you be on the Zuiderdam's partial transit in April 2010? Say yes!!!
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#17
Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama
1,194 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Richard - are you by chance doing the Canal NEXT year We are doing our second partial transit in January, this time on Zuiderdam, and would so love to have someone along who will pass along the knowledge that we know can make it even more special.

Richard, Will you be on the Zuiderdam's partial transit in April 2010? Say yes!!!
You guys are so nice! Will be elsewhere November '09 through March '10 - not sure what's happening in April. I'm sure you will enjoy ZUIDERDAM and the turn around. More info on my blog about the Canal Cruise http://richarddetrich.wordpress.com/canal-cruise/ and schedule. Regards, Richard
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Richard Detrich - Port & Canal Lecturer & Author