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Best/Better Cruise Line for Panama Canal

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Is there a better or best cruise line for a panama canal cruise?


For example lots of people suggest Princess and HAL as the top two lines for Alaska as they go to Glacier Bay.  Is there something similar for the Canal (i.e. a must see)? 


Is it better to be on a smaller ship that go through the old locks or are the newer locks more scenic?


We would be looking at a multi-generational trip (70s, 40s, teens).  Previously we have been on Disney, Celebrity, HAL, RCI, Carnival.

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Although we no longer sail on any mainstream line, we have completed a number of Panama Canal cruises on Island/Coral Princess. They have 2 passenger decks fwd, below the Bridge, which are excellent spots to watch the transit through the canal.


I would also suggest booking a Panamax vessel that can use the old locks. Post-Panamax must use the new locks.

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There is no one "best" cruise line or ship for everyone.


The Island/Coral Princess get a lot of comments, but I don't believe Princess opens the bow for Canal transits. HAL does. Great place to be at least for one lock. The Promenade deck outside is also a great place to experience a lock.


Using the old locks is far superior to the new locks. If you read around this board, you will see that discussed here frequently. Far more cruise ships go through the old locks, compared to the new locks. It isn't really an issue of smaller versus larger...currently few of the largest cruise ships do Canal voyages. 


I believe HAL does more Canal transits, both full and partial, than any other cruise line.

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If you have a favorite of the cruise lines you listed, that would be a good place to start your selection process,  Having said that, HAL will have the most transits along with Princess (not on your list) so that will provide most choices in dates.  On the other hand Disney and Carnival offer transits in conjunction with ship repositions, so there are not always a lot to pick to pick from.  RCL and Celebrity offer few more each season but they still offer fewer than Princess and HAL.


Old locks, new locks... I would come down on the side of the old locks, the historical value, more visual interest are my thoughts for the choice.

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Small ship to fit through the locks. The only way to experience the canal, is the old locks.

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