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TravelAddict4300

Panama Canal Cruise Question

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We are booked on Celebrity Reflection Panama Canal cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale, FL  which will return to Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 18, 2019.  My question is what is the Panama Canal experience on the ship itself when in Colon, Panama?  If you were to stay on the ship can you experience any of the canal activity or get anywhere close to any of the locks?  Not sure if we want to spend 8 hours on an excursion.  Celebrity does offer a 5 1/2 hour that takes you to the Miraflores Locks which we are considering. Description is as follows:

Highlights

  • Learn about the workings of one of the most incredible engineering marvels in the world: the Panama Canal.
  • Visit the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal, see a movie presentation & learn about the history behind it's contruction.
  • Step onto the Expansion Observatory Platform to see the process that will allow larger ships to travel the canal.

 

Edited by TravelAddict4300
added travel dates

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Last time we docked in Colon it was just inside the breakwater, so well before the Gatun Locks. Personally, I would never go ashore in Colon, unless on an organised excursion that immediately departed the port area. Colon is not a safe port of call.

 

If you are only going to Colon, I would definitely take an excursion, either private or ship tour, as otherwise you will see none of the canal.

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1 hour ago, TravelAddict4300 said:

We are booked on Celebrity Reflection Panama Canal cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale, FL  which will return to Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 18, 2019.  My question is what is the Panama Canal experience on the ship itself when in Colon, Panama?  If you were to stay on the ship can you experience any of the canal activity or get anywhere close to any of the locks?  Not sure if we want to spend 8 hours on an excursion.  Celebrity does offer a 5 1/2 hour that takes you to the Miraflores Locks which we are considering. Description is as follows:

Highlights

  • Learn about the workings of one of the most incredible engineering marvels in the world: the Panama Canal.
  • Visit the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal, see a movie presentation & learn about the history behind it's contruction.
  • Step onto the Expansion Observatory Platform to see the process that will allow larger ships to travel the canal.

 

You won't experience anything of the Canal from where the Reflection docks in Colon.  From the part of the description you provided, sounds like the excursion you are looking at will take you to the Pacific side to visit Miraflores Locks (one of the original locks) and take you to Agua Clara Locks (one of new expansion locks) on the Atlantic side.  If you wish to experience anything of the Canal it is tour time.

 

If you elect not to take a tour there really isn't anything in Colon  for you to do on your own except visit the shopping area connected to the pier.  This area is safe to shop in, however the rest of Colon is not a place to strike out on your own.  There is no problem traveling through Colon on a ship's  or private tour... even in a taxi.  There is nothing for the tourist in Colon

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Is this a "partial" canal cruise, or do you simply dock in Colon?  If it's a partial, you will be "up close and person" with 3 sets of locks, twice...coming and going!  If it's simply docked, the only way to see the locks will be on an excursion.

You will NOT want to roam around Colon.  Most likely, you won't be allowed to...generally, you are required to take ship's excursion for either a Colon stop or a partial passage.

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I'm not sure what Celebrity Reflection will do but the ship will be docked in Colon.  I'm just wondering if viewing the locks are worth the 5 1/2 - 8 hour excursion.  I have read many reviews and a lot of people simply enjoyed having the ship to themselves.  My husband and I could take or leave viewing the locks.  I am just doing some reseraching right now will not be there until November of this year. 

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There are basically two different trips where you view the locks, one is you are bused to the Pacific side where you board an excursion boat where you lock through the two Pacific Locks and sail through the Gaillard Cut.  Then it is a bus trip back to the ship in Colon.  The second of the lock viewing excursions is a bus trip to the Pacific side to Miraflores Locks (one of the two Pacific Locks) to see the operation from shore side and to tour the various displays, visual presentations etc. at the visitor's center.  Next would be a trip to see the new expansion locks on the Atlantic side at Agua Clara Locks Visitor's Center.  At both visitor's centers a narration is provided describing the process of locking a ship through the locks.  The first of these excursions I mentioned usually is the one that takes 8 hours or so.  Also the order in which you view the locks on the second excursion is reversible.

 

You may have already read in this or other threads that there is nothing for you to do in Colon other than visit the shopping area associated with the pier, Colon is not a DIY tourist stop.  You would find more things of interest at the Avenue in Viera than walking around Colon😉

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23 hours ago, TravelAddict4300 said:

I'm not sure what Celebrity Reflection will do but the ship will be docked in Colon.  I'm just wondering if viewing the locks are worth the 5 1/2 - 8 hour excursion.  I have read many reviews and a lot of people simply enjoyed having the ship to themselves.  My husband and I could take or leave viewing the locks.  I am just doing some reseraching right now will not be there until November of this year. 

If taking a cruise to Panama and only docking in Colon, personally I would be taking the tour to view the locks, cut, etc. I have well over 20 full transits and would still take the tour, rather than staying on the ship.

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