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szafran

Question for members who have been on both the full and half transit.

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We are considering a cruise to the Panama Canal and have gotten many different opinions and suggestions on the long vs the half trip through the Canal. To those of you who have been on both, what do you think? We will probably never do this again and I don't want to make a mistake. Thanks for any input.

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I would certainly prefer a full transit over a partial transit, but you also have to consider whether the ships you are considering are using the old locks or the new.  The advantage to the partial is that you have the opportunity to take excursions to see other parts of the canal area/Panama.  This can also be done on a full transit if the ship makes an overnight stop at Fuerte Amador on the Pacific side, usually after the westbound transit.  I have noticed several ships doing this recently.  EM

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Full transit is far superior, in our opinion. We don't consider an excursion in Panama a huge plus.

 

Many people take the partial for simplicity of airfares...being roundtrip out of the originating port. And partial transits typically are 10 or 11 days, where is it rare a full transit is under 14 days- usually only when the starting and ending ports are outside the US.

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Welcome to Cruise Critic, you can find  a lot of great info here!  First of all either cruise are great cruises, which one fits your desires is the real question.  IMO if you don't plan to cruise in this area beyond your initial cruise, then the full transit cruise is your best choice. But the again, I would come down on the side of full transit in most of the time anyway.  There are some reasons that a partial transit could be the better choice.  This usually is the case when people don't have the two weeks or so they can commit to a cruise, then the 10/11 day partial transit can be a good compromise.  The partial transit also permits easier airline flights with a round trip to Florida as opposed to dealing with open jaw airline tickets and flying back and forth from both coasts.

 

If you select a full transit, I would only consider one that stops in Panama either post transit or pre transit.  It is a shame that so many of the cruise lines just sail through the Canal without a stop.  Princess and HAL offer quite a few full transits every Canal season, however not all of their full transit cruises make a stop in Panama.  Celebrity and Royal Caribbean offer a stop in Panama on most of their Canal cruises, the down side on these two cruise lines is they don't offer that many cruises each season.  You can find Canal cruises both full and partial with NCL and to some extent Carnival.

 

One more choice that lies before you is which locks do want want to go through on your transit.  I would recommend selecting a cruise that uses the original locks rather than the new expansion locks.  To me there is just a lot visual interest in the original locks.

 

The partial transit is sort of like a gateway Canal cruise... if you take a partial, then you just gotta come back for the full transit😀.

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Thank you all so much for your replies. I have printed all replies and we will talk about it and see what we come up with. Bottom line, my husband is very interested in the mechanics of the Canal and has talked about it for years. He wants to see it all, from all sides and get the full experience of how it works. We haven't even planned a trip yet and already has a ton of questions. Thanks again and I will continue to use this site for help and suggestions.

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Partial transits can be from either the Pacific or Atlantic sides and vary considerably. The partial transits from the Atlantic side normally enter the Gatun Locks, which are a triple set of locks and then anchor in Gatun Lake. They do not transit the "Cut" or section of the canal that was excavated, or the 2 sets of locks on the Pacific side.

 

A partial transit from the Pacific goes almost entirely through the canal to the top of Gatun Locks and then returns back to the Pacific. Therefore, you almost complete 2 transits.

 

Having completed well over 20 full transits, in both directions and a single partial transit from the Pacific, my first choice is a full transit, followed by a partial transit from the Pacific. I would never consider a partial transit from the Atlantic. With a partial from the Atlantic you miss the best parts.

 

Also agree with the suggestion to book a Panamax ship that can use the old locks.

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Heidi, thank you for your suggestions. It looks like we should do a full transit first and go from there. Thanks again.

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I am cruising through the Canal for the first time in January, full transit, with 20-hour stop in Fuente Amador, which is the only way IMHO.  To make it even more interesting we are starting from Santiago and ending in Miami.  Thanks to Oceania, can’t wait.

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We did Partial Transit November 2019.  @BillB48 was a tremendous amount of help with his insights, tips and knowledge, thanks  Bill!

 

Partial Transit for us because DH wasn't ready to take a 15 day cruise yet.  Our PT was 10 days, HAL Zuiderdam, going through older locks - exceptional opportunity to see how the locks worked, Deck 5.  We loved every speck of it, round trip Fort Lauderdale.  We then took a Ship Excursion, off ship in Gatun Lake, through the rest of the locks.  Very good experience.

 

And the day we disembark, DH says, "I think I'd like to do another, but full transit next time."  We will see.  

 

Whenever you go, it will be a wonderful experience!

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18 minutes ago, CM1984 said:

 

 

And the day we disembark, DH says, "I think I'd like to do another, but full transit next time."  We will see.  

 

Whenever you go, it will be a wonderful experience!

Thank you for your reply. I would hate to miss out and make a mistake because this will probably be our only trip there.

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