Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
red lobster

Holland, Norwegian, or Princess for Panama Canal cruise?

Recommended Posts

I've been on all three lines, they are all good in my opinion. How do the rest of you decide, is it the  itinerary, the price, the ship? I'm so torn on which to chose, they all have good and bad points. For those of you that have done the Panama Canal on a 10, 11 or 12 day from Florida, what was the deciding factor for you to chose the one you did and why?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What other ports are involved? Time in those ports?

 

Generally, HAL and Princess have the most Canal cruises, so that gives you the most options. A stop at HAL's private island is a requirement for DW.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ship should have a wrap around promenade deck and plenty of outside viewing areas.  Don't book a balcony and expect to get the full canal experience from it.  I would NOT choose Caribbean Princess, because she uses the new locks, which is a nice experience but doesn't compare to Island or Coral doing the old locks.  EM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Essiesmom said:

Ship should have a wrap around promenade deck and plenty of outside viewing areas.  Don't book a balcony and expect to get the full canal experience from it.  I would NOT choose Caribbean Princess, because she uses the new locks, which is a nice experience but doesn't compare to Island or Coral doing the old locks.  EM

And...(good points Essiesmom!), add to the list that HAL opens the bow, Princess typically doesn't. Being on the bow for a lock passage is a high priority.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coral and Island have forward viewing areas that are always open for transits.  Some NCL ships will open the bow during transits, Star, Gem, Pearl do, Jade & Sun do not.  NCL Joy has a partial in the fall, but she has to use the new locks.  EM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess you can agree that cruising is hard work... or at least you have to work a bit to make your selection!😉  The only thing I would add is for an itinerary that offers a stop in Panama in addition to the transit.

 

As for the 10-11 day Canal cruises, those would be partial transits and not my first choice if your are looking to experience the Canal in its fullest.  The differences in those itineraries are minor, so I would look to the ship for your deal maker.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Essiesmom said:

Some NCL ships will open the bow during transits, Star, Gem, Pearl do, Jade & Sun do not.

 

Just noting that the NCL Jewel opened the bow during our Canal transit in January 2017.   :classic_smile:

 

enhance

 

(photo by turtles06)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there a reason why some ships don't open their bows to passengers?  I would have thought the bow was a prime viewing area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I would think on ships that don't allow access to the bow during the transit has to do with where the access is actually located.  Perhaps it is through a crew only area that may not be "passenger friendly" and on some ships the bow is a work area that would not be an appropriate place to have passengers about.

Edited by BillB48

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We did a HAL cruise, but I don't think it matters which line you use. Viewing from the bow was a great experience. Something else would be what other ports of call are there? What ever line you use, enjoy. The Panama Canal is one of those bucket item things to cross off your list. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since there are many cruise lines that have Canal-focused itineraries, the decision should also include which line you prefer and where else you want stop.  As I am a foodie, I must also consider that, so Oceania is my preference.  We wanted a full transit and found such an ‘O’ trip starting from Santiago and ending in Miami, with an awesome itinerary.  Can’t wait until Jan 2020.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/31/2019 at 11:39 AM, red lobster said:

I've been on all three lines, they are all good in my opinion. How do the rest of you decide, is it the  itinerary, the price, the ship? I'm so torn on which to chose, they all have good and bad points. For those of you that have done the Panama Canal on a 10, 11 or 12 day from Florida, what was the deciding factor for you to chose the one you did and why?

One question I have from above is whether you are looking at a full or partial transit.  In my experience the full transits generally take at least 2 weeks.  I would always recommend a full transit over a partial as you would miss much of the interesting works on a partial from Florida.  As a side point, anyone really interested in the Canal history and understanding it’s background should read David McCullough’s “The Path Between the Seas”.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is another question: How do you make sure the ship goes through the old locks?

And also: Is there an advantage to taking the cruise one direction or the other?

 

I would rather take Windstar, but some of the big boats are cheaper and have the advantage of cheaper airfare (i.e. FL and Ca vs. Costa Rica and Panama). I'm mainly interested in the canal part, not Mexico, Costa Rica, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You either have to know your ships/sizes, or you ask here.  We can tell you who needs to use the new locks.  EM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

If the ship you choose will fit in the old locks, there is a 99.999999 chance it will use the old locks.  I left an allowance of 0.000001 that it could somehow use the new locks.  I say that because one just never knows that there could possibly be some set of off the wall circumstances that would necessitate a passage in the new locks.  Maximum dimensions for  ships to use the old locks are 965'x106'.  The 106 beam figure is at the waterline, many times when the dimensions of the ship are cited they will use the maximum beam which would include overhangs which are not taken into consideration.  Generally the passenger capacity for ships using the old locks is never much over 2500 passengers... usually less.

 

As far as direction goes, either way is just as enjoyable.  The deciding factors are usually how you want to handle transportation to join the ship and transportation home after the cruise.  Some folks like to get the longer flight over first and others the opposite and some can use a car for one leg.  Time of year may also dictate how convenient and affordable the air fare is.  At the beginning of  Canal "season" (September) you will find more California to Florida itineraries, while near the end of the "season" (May) you will find more Florida to California.  Just a matter of what works for you.

Edited by BillB48

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/1/2019 at 3:24 AM, Turtles06 said:

 

enhance

 

(photo by turtles06)

 

On 6/14/2019 at 6:24 AM, babs135 said:

Is there a reason why some ships don't open their bows to passengers?  I would have thought the bow was a prime viewing area.

 

Looking at the picture, is the bow being open a benefit? It looks crowded and uncomfortable to me and unless you are on the rail, not a huge benefit.

 

As to why some ships don't open the bow; you can see the bow area on the Coral Princess in lots of photos and the area looks tiny, even smaller than the bow of the HAL ship, so it might not be worth it.

 

My last trip through the canal on the Coral P I enjoyed walking all over the ship and getting pictures from different areas and perspectives. The bow being open wouldn't have enhanced my experience I don't believe,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/4/2019 at 5:25 PM, wheezedr said:

One question I have from above is whether you are looking at a full or partial transit.  In my experience the full transits generally take at least 2 weeks.  I would always recommend a full transit over a partial as you would miss much of the interesting works on a partial from Florida.  As a side point, anyone really interested in the Canal history and understanding it’s background should read David McCullough’s “The Path Between the Seas”.

 

I probably wouldn't do a partial from the FL side, but we did a 19 day LA round trip in March and loved it. We overnighted in Lake Gatun and if you stood in the right place, you could see the sea beyond the Agua Clara Locks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, scottca075 said:

 

 

Looking at the picture, is the bow being open a benefit? It looks crowded and uncomfortable to me and unless you are on the rail, not a huge benefit.

 

As to why some ships don't open the bow; you can see the bow area on the Coral Princess in lots of photos and the area looks tiny, even smaller than the bow of the HAL ship, so it might not be worth it.

 

My last trip through the canal on the Coral P I enjoyed walking all over the ship and getting pictures from different areas and perspectives. The bow being open wouldn't have enhanced my experience I don't believe,

 

II think the main reason for passengers to congregate at the bow is everybody wants the "money shot" of the first set of gates opening at the first set of locks.  It isn't as dramatic when you are on the opposite end of the Canal approaching the locks for a down lockage.  Seeing things from different vantage points is the ticket.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you looked at Windstar for your Panama Canal Cruise? We cruised 5 years ago on their sailing ship, Wind Star, with 188 passengers. We could wander all over the entire ship, bow to stern, and never had an issue being able to see everything. We cruised from Colon to Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica in about 10 days. 

 

 

2201BFDF-FC5F-403D-9BC3-49176DF4C84B.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/31/2019 at 4:28 PM, CruiserBruce said:

What other ports are involved? Time in those ports?

 

Generally, HAL and Princess have the most Canal cruises, so that gives you the most options. A stop at HAL's private island is a requirement for DW.

Is the tender pier at Fuerte Amador Panama port near the Resort & Marina

or another area?

Edited by angelNY

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, angelNY said:

Is the tender pier at Fuerte Amador Panama port near the Resort & Marina

or another area?

I have no idea. Someone else hopefully can help you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter for a chance to win a $3,000 Norwegian Cruise Line Gift Card
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...