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Holland America outside vendors in Panama?

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Read somewhere that if you want to make an excursion on partial transit on HAL you can only get off he ship if you book an excursion through. HAL. anyone know for sure? We are on the Sunfarer cruise (zuirdam. Oct 20, 2019)

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Zuiderdam will pass thru the Atlantic Locks into Gatun Lake. At this point those people who wave booked excursions thru Holland America will be tendered ashore to begin their excursion. No private vendors are allowed. Those who are on excursions are taken to the port in Colon, to rejoin the ship.

There is a limited opportunity to leave the ship in Colon. At that point you could arrange for a local vendor but the time available is rather short and some would say Colon is not much to visit.

 

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15 minutes ago, richwmn said:

Zuiderdam will pass thru the Atlantic Locks into Gatun Lake. At this point those people who wave booked excursions thru Holland America will be tendered ashore to begin their excursion. No private vendors are allowed. Those who are on excursions are taken to the port in Colon, to rejoin the ship.

There is a limited opportunity to leave the ship in Colon. At that point you could arrange for a local vendor but the time available is rather short and some would say Colon is not much to visit.

 

thank you. I had heard both things. Do you think it is worth it to take an excursion at Gatun lake? We want to but nothing sounds overly exciting. We would love to see Panama City and/or forts but the excursions have not received fabulous reviews (although I think many of the reviews are quite old).  Recommendations? We are used to striking out on our own so a ship excursion will be different. 

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Panamanian law is the source of the restrictions on taking tours. Not HAL.

 

If nothing interests you, no excursion is probably "worth it". But that is something only you can decide. 

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Posted (edited)

We have not done it (our one PC was a full transit), but I have contemplated the partial from Florida with a small ship/boat trip through the Pacific locks and an overland (train or bus) back to Colon. It's pricey but would be worth it for our family members who will never do a full transit. The locks are supposed to be quite impressive from a smaller vessel!

Edited by crystalspin

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2 hours ago, crystalspin said:

We have not done it (our one PC was a full transit), but I have contemplated the partial from Florida with a small ship/boat trip through the Pacific locks and an overland (train or bus) back to Colon. It's pricey but would be worth it for our family members who will never do a full transit. The locks are supposed to be quite impressive from a smaller vessel!

We were just planning the Caribbean again when I tripped across this one.  Used to work for a small ship cruise line with less than 100 guests. Did the Columbia River Locks which was quite amazing on a much smaller scale. I literally touched he side at one point. So fun! 

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I am pretty sure that when I did the partial Canal on Zuiderdam, only ship excursions were possible.  Those folks at our table that opted for ship’s excursions commented on what a long day it was and how hot they were.  I did this trip in April, 2018.

 

i stayed on the ship and enjoyed seeing the traffic thru the locks.  Also, we could reach out and touch the sides when going thru the locks.  

 

This was my bucket list cruise, and I look forward to doing it again!

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Any recommendation s for tours? It's out first time in Panama and.want to get off he ship but nothing is impressing us as far as excursions so we are going for recommendations

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4 hours ago, Sea-Bos said:

Any recommendation s for tours? It's out first time in Panama and.want to get off he ship but nothing is impressing us as far as excursions so we are going for recommendations

Guess that would depend on your interests, your budget, any limitations you have. None of which we know anything about.

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26 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

Guess that would depend on your interests, your budget, any limitations you have. None of which we know anything about.

 

26 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

Guess that would depend on your interests, your budget, any limitations you have. None of which we know anything about.

We have no restrictions. A lot of the tours seem to be similar and the reviews we are reading are not favorable on any of them. My husband is leaning towards the Fort San Lorenzo and Aqua Clara Locks. My interest is to just get off the ship. 🙂 The things I am interested in are not really feasible this trip.  Most of the tours seem to run under $125 so that is roughly our budget. We don’t want to do the $200 train ride or the “authentic” village. Thank you so much for your insight. 

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3 hours ago, Sea-Bos said:

 

A lot of the tours seem to be similar and the reviews we are reading are not favorable on any of them... My interest is to just get off the ship. The things I am interested in are not really feasible this trip... We don’t want to do the $200 train ride or the “authentic” village. 

 

I think you have answered your own questions. The two things you mention as not interesting are the only two we would probably do! There is no need to get off the ship at all, and if you just want to touch land, take the cheapest "tender-off-bus-ride-to-Colon" excursion that is offered. If your husband is interested in the Fort San Lorenzo and Aqua Clara Locks, by all means do that one! 

 

I am honestly not being flippant. I have faced variations on your dilemma many times. Finally, you just make a decision and live with it.

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7 hours ago, crystalspin said:

 

I think you have answered your own questions. The two things you mention as not interesting are the only two we would probably do! There is no need to get off the ship at all, and if you just want to touch land, take the cheapest "tender-off-bus-ride-to-Colon" excursion that is offered. If your husband is interested in the Fort San Lorenzo and Aqua Clara Locks, by all means do that one! 

 

I am honestly not being flippant. I have faced variations on your dilemma many times. Finally, you just make a decision and live with it.

You weren’t flippant at all. I think we have gotten so caught up on reading every review that our minds are just spinning. One person says the bus ride is too long so we cross that one off. One person says the village isn’t authentic so we cross that one off. Another person says... and it goes on and on. One poster said they didn’t understand why there was so much trash along the road and Panama surely has enough money to clean up their roads so it doesn’t ruin his attempt to take nice pictures.  So, your advice was great.  Just pick and enjoy it!!! Off to the fort we go 😉 (and if we sit for an hour on a bus on a ferry, then that is just a part of the experience!) 

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What really impressed me was the first part of an 8 hour excursion many years ago. Sitting on the bleachers overlooking the lock and watching its workings.  The 'mules' (small towing vehicles) which help keep the vessels in the center of the locks with, depending on the size of the ship, only a foot to spare on each side!  Fascinating.  If nothing else interests you, you might look into an excursion which includes this.

 

The ship we watched going through the lock started on the 'high side', with the crew members on board being parallel with our elevation.  At the end of their passage, they were way, way down below and we couldn't even see them.  Such a testament to the marvelous engineering of the time.

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