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disneyochem

HAL Rotterdam or Island Princess for Panama Canal?

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Hello, I would like some feedback on which ship to take on a first-time Panama Canal trip.  Both leave from Ft Launderdale:  Island (14-day Cruise) ends in LA, HAL (16-day cruise) in San Diego.  Price differential is only $86.   We live in Northern California so getting home is about the same to us from either port.

 

We have sailed Princess before (which we loved) but not HAL.  We are pretty active in our late 50’s who like to DIY at ports, like ships with promenades, enjoy fine wine with traditional dining (not buffet folks) and not into the shows (like to listen to music though).  Always book an inside room (though we do enjoy balconys when upgraded!)—hubby has to complete darkness at night for a good sleep!

 

We want to go through the old locks on our first transit—that’s a must.  Also, we have to go during my semester break in December/January 2021 (college professor).

 

Thank you in advance!  And, what a great topic to post—either way, we get to go on a fantastic cruise!

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Really can't offer anything substantive regarding which cruise line, but can throw out a couple of things to consider.  All of HAL's ships will be using the legacy locks, they presently have only one ship that would need to use the new locks.  That ship is the Koningsdam and I don't see it scheduled for any Canal transits.  On the other hand Princess has three ships scheduled for full transits, the Emerald, Coral and the Island.  The Emerald will be using the new locks while the Coral and the Island will use the legacy locks.  From what I have read, most people prefer the Coral over the Island as a result of the additional passenger cabins that were added and reduction in some public spaces.

 

One other thing to add, I would look for a cruise that offers a port call in Panama in addition to the transit.  Panama is quite a bit different from the "regular" Caribbean or Mexican Riviera cruises.  Several good historical/cultural excursions as well as you can explore some of the Canal from the shore side perspective.  Not all cruise lines combine a port call in Panama.  Both Princess and HAL do call at Ft. Amador on the Pacific side, however they don't always include the Ft. Amador stop in every itinerary.  I would be willing to wager that the 14 doesn't stop at Ft. Amador.

Edited by BillB48

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Hubby and I did a LA to Panama with the return to LA - 19 day cruise. 
We had a mini suite on the Island Princess ~ the only time we have. Usually we do regular balcony or oceanview.

I was hesitant about how that ship would be but we both agree that it was

one of the best cruises we had done.

I do not think you can go wrong with either line actually. I can only tell you what we experienced and it way wonderful.

 

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We did the Coral Panama Canal and loved it. Island has gotten some bad marks since the "remodel" or whatever you choose to call it.

 

Haven't done HAL is a while. I prefer Princess now, but wouldn't turn down a chance to cruise on HAL if the right trip came up.

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On 8/17/2019 at 8:32 AM, BillB48 said:

Really can't offer anything substantive regarding which cruise line, but can throw out a couple of things to consider.  All of HAL's ships will be using the legacy locks, they presently have only one ship that would need to use the new locks.  That ship is the Koningsdam and I don't see it scheduled for any Canal transits.  On the other hand Princess has three ships scheduled for full transits, the Emerald, Coral and the Island.  The Emerald will be using the new locks while the Coral and the Island will use the legacy locks.  From what I have read, most people prefer the Coral over the Island as a result of the additional passenger cabins that were added and reduction in some public spaces.

 

One other thing to add, I would look for a cruise that offers a port call in Panama in addition to the transit.  Panama is quite a bit different from the "regular" Caribbean or Mexican Riviera cruises.  Several good historical/cultural excursions as well as you can explore some of the Canal from the shore side perspective.  Not all cruise lines combine a port call in Panama.  Both Princess and HAL do call at Ft. Amador on the Pacific side, however they don't always include the Ft. Amador stop in every itinerary.  I would be willing to wager that the 14 doesn't stop at Ft. Amador.

Thank you for your thoughts.  We are limited to certain dates based on my teaching schedule so it is between the Island and Rotterdam.  I’m going to take a look into the ports now.

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On 9/3/2019 at 1:55 PM, greenie082756 said:

Hubby and I did a LA to Panama with the return to LA - 19 day cruise. 
We had a mini suite on the Island Princess ~ the only time we have. Usually we do regular balcony or oceanview.

I was hesitant about how that ship would be but we both agree that it was

one of the best cruises we had done.

I do not think you can go wrong with either line actually. I can only tell you what we experienced and it way wonderful.

 

Thank you!  I have heard such bad reviews about the Island.  Glad to hear you had a wonderful cruise.

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20 hours ago, scottca075 said:

We did the Coral Panama Canal and loved it. Island has gotten some bad marks since the "remodel" or whatever you choose to call it.

 

Haven't done HAL is a while. I prefer Princess now, but wouldn't turn down a chance to cruise on HAL if the right trip came up.

Hubby is leaning towards Princess.  He loved our first Princess cruise so much that he booked three more!  Wants to explore and experience more with Princess.

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On 10/17/2019 at 5:01 PM, marysb said:

We did a HAL Panama Canal cruise on the Eurodaam.  loved it, but we did really like that ship.   Here are some photos of our HAL experience.  https://maryandnormtravel.blogspot.com/2017/05/panama-canal-cruise-april-2017-part-1.html

 

im sure you you will enjoy whichever you choose.

Mary

THank you for the link!  Great pictures!  Looks like it was a wonderful cruise.  We had been leaning towards Princess but now we’re re-evaluating.  

 

Thank you again!

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Glad the photos helped you out.  Enjoy your cruise whichever you pick - I don't think you will go wrong.

 

Another tip that I found helpful was to do some research on the building of the canal.  It is fascinating.   I read The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914 by David McCullogh.    It's a bit of a dry read at the beginning for all the politics of getting this thing built and if you can't get through it, just read the shortened version on Wikipedia, but be sure to  read the last 1/3rd of the book on the actual building ....fascinating e.g.  first time concrete was ever used for construction, building the motors put general electric into business, the geology of how the banks keep collapsing,   etc etc.   Also there are lot videos available on you tube.  The advanced knowledge really helped me know what I was looking at.   Yes, there is a guide, but sometimes you cant hear everything, and they also give you a different perspcetive.

 

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On 10/22/2019 at 9:34 AM, marysb said:

Glad the photos helped you out.  Enjoy your cruise whichever you pick - I don't think you will go wrong.

 

Another tip that I found helpful was to do some research on the building of the canal.  It is fascinating.   I read The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914 by David McCullogh.    It's a bit of a dry read at the beginning for all the politics of getting this thing built and if you can't get through it, just read the shortened version on Wikipedia, but be sure to  read the last 1/3rd of the book on the actual building ....fascinating e.g.  first time concrete was ever used for construction, building the motors put general electric into business, the geology of how the banks keep collapsing,   etc etc.   Also there are lot videos available on you tube.  The advanced knowledge really helped me know what I was looking at.   Yes, there is a guide, but sometimes you cant hear everything, and they also give you a different perspcetive.

 

I bought the book for hubby as a Christmas present (already wrapped and tagged!).  He’s a retired mechanical engineer so I’m sure he will enjoy the details behind building the canal.

 

I’ve already done quite a bit of research about cruising the canal—combination of being a natural planner and an advanced research degree!  I have my YouTube account set up to notify me when someone posts a new video about cruising the canal, the Island Princess and the Rotterdam.  Every time I show my hubby a video, he asks me “how many days away is it?”  LOL!

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We sailed on the Island Princess on a partial canal cruise before the refurbishment. I was reluctant to book the Island again after hearing about what they did to add cabins. But I got a great deal on back-to-back Alaskan cruises on the Island this summer that I took a chance. I had a great time. We sailed on the Zuiderdam on another partial canal cruise two years ago. We had a very good time. The thing I love about HAL cruises is the culinary hostess. What I don't love is how much they've cut back on other activities and entertainment. 

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10 hours ago, geoherb said:

We sailed on the Island Princess on a partial canal cruise before the refurbishment. I was reluctant to book the Island again after hearing about what they did to add cabins. But I got a great deal on back-to-back Alaskan cruises on the Island this summer that I took a chance. I had a great time. We sailed on the Zuiderdam on another partial canal cruise two years ago. We had a very good time. The thing I love about HAL cruises is the culinary hostess. What I don't love is how much they've cut back on other activities and entertainment. 

Glad to hear about your experience on the Island.  Sounds like it’s a good thing we didn’t sail on her before the refurbishment!

 

Looks like we have decided to sail on the Island.  Hubby really liked our first cruise on Princess and feels we have found our cruise line!  I like the HAL cruise better but it’s okay!  Best case scenario—we’re on a cruise; worst case— we’re on a cruise!

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