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MaryP2219

View Panama Canal

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First time through Panama Canal. Better to view from balcony or top of ship?

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If you read down the board you will see many discussions on this. First, don't look at it as there is only one "best" spot to be for the whole transit, which can take 8-10 hours. If your ship opens the bow, that is a great spot to be for a lock operation. Another great spot for a lock operation is the "promenade" deck of a ship, where the amount of lift is easy to see.

 

Second, if you stay on your balcony all day, you will miss a fair amount of scenery (like the whole other side of the ship), and if you are on the sun side, it will get pretty hot.

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Totally agree with Bruce.  While you are in any of the three sets of locks it is a good idea to take in the operation of the locks from one of the "lower" decks.  You don't have to plant yourself there for all of the locks, but spend some time there.  Through Gaillard Cut and crossing Gatun Lake the upper decks works well, even a good location from the buffet is also great.

 

To illustrate why homesteading your balcony is not the best idea... say you are entering from the Pacific and you are enjoying the approach to the Canal on your port side balcony with great views of the islands in the bay and ships at anchor.  You will completely miss the other smaller islands and the truly impressive Panama City skyline on the starboard side.  The views from both sides of the ship are worth it... see all of them!

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It also depends on which ship you complete the transit.

 

Using the analogy that the Bridge has the best views, my preference is always one of the fwd decks below the Bridge, or the viewing area above the Bridge. Sadly not many of the newer ships have these areas. With 20+ transits these areas work well for me. 

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5 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

It also depends on which ship you complete the transit.

 

Using the analogy that the Bridge has the best views, my preference is always one of the fwd decks below the Bridge, or the viewing area above the Bridge. Sadly not many of the newer ships have these areas. With 20+ transits these areas work well for me. 

 

There's no question that the "view from the Bridge," or, in our case, from our balcony directly below it (forward-facing suite on the NCL Jewel), is a great one, but even so it was not a place to be planted in for the entire transit, for all of the excellent reasons set out above.

 

enhance

 

(photo by turtles06)

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13 hours ago, Turtles06 said:

 

There's no question that the "view from the Bridge," or, in our case, from our balcony directly below it (forward-facing suite on the NCL Jewel), is a great one, but even so it was not a place to be planted in for the entire transit, for all of the excellent reasons set out above.

We all have preferences and having seen the Canal from virtually all parts of the ship, including those not available to passengers, my preference for the majority is a fwd facing deck that also affords views down both sides of the ship. With respect to the OP question, I never use the balcony, even it is fwd or aft facing, as they don't cover the entire beam of the ship.

 

For the best spots for a first timer, if the ship opens the Focsle, being at the stem is impressive as the ship initially enters a set of locks, then again as it approaches the end gates. Inside the locks, the best spot is the aft mooring deck, which is obviously unavailable, so next best option is wandering around the Promenade Deck, if the ship has one.

 

In my experience, the size of the ship also dictates how impressive the views of the locks are - Panamax size ships are really impressive, smaller ships not so impressive. My first 2 transits were on a smaller ship with lots of room inside the locks. The next transit was Panamax and it was a marked difference.

 

Another factor is the weather. Completed too many transits with temperatures in the high 30's C, working on deck with no shade. Also experienced transits where it has rained almost continuously the entire transit. In these situations, a lounge is my choice.

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Going thru the locks can take a GOOD bit of time...so go and roam the ship during the passage!  Things look completely different from the promenade deck than from the helipad!  There are things to see on BOTH sides, so go from side to side, too.  You will miss 3/4's of the sights if you stay in one place.

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Noting the pic by Turtles06, the bow may not be the best vantage point, unless you are a good bit taller than the persons in front of you.  People tend to grab those spots and homestead there until finishing the transit of the first set of locks.  Or until it rains...  EM

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