Monkey Watch & Canal Nature Cruise - Princess excursion

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#1
New York
668 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
Has anyone done the Monkey Watch & Canal Nature Cruise excursion with Princess? How was it? TIA!!
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Upcoming Cruises:
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#2
New York
668 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
I guess no one has taken this excursion
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Upcoming Cruises:
10/21/17 Regal Princess Canadian Atlantic Provinces Getaway
01/07/18 Celebrity Millennium Southeast Asia Immersion Cruise
#3
Pennsylvania
5,402 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
We'll be taking it on Cunard in the next 2-3 weeks. I imagine it's the same as yours. Can't tell you anything yet.
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#4
New York
668 Posts
Joined Apr 2007
We don't go until December, so if you remember, please let us know if you liked it. Thanks!
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Upcoming Cruises:
10/21/17 Regal Princess Canadian Atlantic Provinces Getaway
01/07/18 Celebrity Millennium Southeast Asia Immersion Cruise
#5
2,875 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
We pre-booked our excursions with Princess and this was one of them. When we boarded on 1/24 there was a notice in our cabin that the excursion had been canceled 'by the operator.'

We were very disappointed.
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#6
Ontario
135 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
My husband and I recently visited Panama during a cruise. We had initially booked an excursion through Celebrity; the ‘Gatun Lake Safari’ but cancelled it when they changed the venue. After posting some questions on Cruise Critic about alternative excursions, a gentleman told us about a private Gatun Lake excursion that he highly recommended. Here is the link to his review:

http://www.newsroompanama.com/travel...houseboat.html

We found further information about this tour from two websites:
http://junglelandpanama.com/ and http://www.gatunexplorer.com/

We contacted Carl by e-mail: [email protected] and booked the tour.

We were nervous about booking this private excursion since it was our first cruise and were scared that we’d miss our departure time. We also felt uneasy because Carl uses another company to collect payment. We had to give our credit card info by fax or e-mail and pay for the tour in full in advance. We were worried that we would get ripped off, but decided to go for it after reading Richard’s review.

We were relieved when we were met at the Colon port by Olga from Ocean 2 Ocean transfer service. This was the most organized pick-up out of all of our excursions. She took us to a private van with a driver where we began the 1 hour drive to Gatun Lake. Olga was a really knowledgeable and friendly girl who answered any questions that we had and told us about the history of the area.

We met Carl at a lake dock where we began our adventure aboard a small motorboat with about 16 other people. He drove us around many islands on Gatun Lake including Monkey Island for a couple of hours. He told us all about the history of the lake and the canal. Carl is a really fun guy who made learning fun as we laughed almost the whole time! We saw howler monkeys, white-faced capuchins, sloths, and alligators. At one point, 3 white-faced capuchins boarded our boat and we were able to feed them by hand! Here is a link to some of the pictures that we took:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuartc...n/photostream/

We arrived at Carl’s houseboat where we had a delicious hot lunch, dove into the lake from a 2nd story platform, and relaxed on hammocks. The houseboat is in the middle of nowhere and is surrounded by lush rainforest; it was extremely beautiful and peaceful. He has many ‘critters’ on board including a cayman, a snake, a parrot, lizards, a bush baby and a toucan. Although we believe that Carl love’s these animals and cares for them well, we couldn’t help but feel sad that they live in captivity.

We were then given the option of fishing or kayaking. We went on the kayak trip where we traversed small inlets and enjoyed nature. Our destination was a pretty waterfall flowing into a pool of freshwater where we could jump from a ledge at the top; exhilarating!

Carl drove us all back to the dock where we were again met by Olga and driven back to the cruise port with plenty of time to spare.

Overall, we both felt that this excursion was the highlight of our cruise and very good value at $95 USD per person for 7 hours including lunch. We would highly recommend booking this excursion either during a cruise or land visit to Panama. If you are an adventurous nature lover; you won’t be disappointed!

Before booking this tour, it is important to note that you will not see the canal during this tour. We were much more interested in nature so this was great for us!
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Feb. 2011: Celebrity Equinox "Ultimate Caribbean"
#7
74 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
This excursion looks very interesting and is exactly what we are looking for. How does this tour work - do they pick you up in Panama (before you enter the canal) and then return you to Colon? We are doing the partial transit in October on Princess and seeing the canal is not an issue for us, but getting back to the ship on time is certainly a concern.

Thanks in advance.
#8
Florida
5,420 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
On a partial transit tours begin after the ship locks up into Gatun Lake. You then tender off the ship to meet your tour and will rejoin the ship in Colon. The jungle trip with Carl may present a problem since at the present time I believe he is not connected with any of the ship's tours. When you tender off the ship in Gatun Lake you must be on a ship's tour in order to go ashore.
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BB
"If the phone doesn't ring, it's me!"
"Is it ignorance or is it apathy? ... I don't know and I don't care!"
S.S. Badger R/T from Manitowoc June 02
#9
Ontario
135 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
BB is right. I have heard that only people on ship tours can tender off the ship at Gatun Lake. Our ship was too big to go through the canal, so it was docked in Colon the whole time which made it easy to connect with Carl. Unfortunately, for this reason I don't think this tour will work for you. I wonder why ships have this policy; (other than making it impossible to book a private tour)?
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Feb. 2011: Celebrity Equinox "Ultimate Caribbean"
#10
Florida
5,420 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Originally posted by clarka
BB is right. I have heard that only people on ship tours can tender off the ship at Gatun Lake. Our ship was too big to go through the canal, so it was docked in Colon the whole time which made it easy to connect with Carl. Unfortunately, for this reason I don't think this tour will work for you. I wonder why ships have this policy; (other than making it impossible to book a private tour)?
The main reason they have the policy to only allow passengers off the ship that have purchased tours through them is mainly due to the area where they are landed is remote. There is no town, stores, restaurants or even dedicated transportation. So if a group of passengers were stood up by their tour operator, there would be some hoops to jump through to get them back to Colon to meet the ship. Also the present tendering area is very near the construction of the new set of locks adding another complication for transportation. Lastly, I'm sure the cruise lines don't mind a bit about having a monopoly on shore excursions! At least this is one spot all the cruise lines follow this procedure.
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"If the phone doesn't ring, it's me!"
"Is it ignorance or is it apathy? ... I don't know and I don't care!"
S.S. Badger R/T from Manitowoc June 02
#11
Las Vegas
755 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Just off the Island Princess and the 15 day Panama Canal transit. We did the Princess excursion Monkey Watch and it was FANTASTIC. We too saw sloths, iguanas, all kinds of birds, turtles, crocs, and of course the monkeys. Yep. They climb aboard in search of food. You can't bring any food off the ship or risk a fine, but try and grab some fruit somewhere along the bus ride to lure the monkeys in for good photos. Fruit is a natural and healthy food for the critters.
We recommend this excursion. Also, it is an easy one for older passengers. The bus was air conditioned, and once in the boat and on the water, it was most comfortable. They do make you wear a life vest. The boat is covered, so you are shaded, and there is a restroom before you board the boat.
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