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SimplyMarvie

Gatun Locks and Portabello with the Cruise Line or not?

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We're trying to figure out what the heck to do with our day in Colon on RCCI in December, and I'm angsting about whether to book the Gatun Locks and Portabello excursion with the cruise line. We're a family of 5 with middle-school aged kids and we're pretty active with a life-long fascination with piracy in the Caribbean -- so this seems like it might be the perfect excursion for us... but I'm worried that it's going to be a big bus without a lot of freedom to really dig into the site. That said, I've done some research and a way to do it independently does not seem to be presenting its self. 

 

Thoughts or recommendations? I'm open to just hiring someone to drive us, but since we're 5, it's hard to just grab a taxi as we don't fit into a standard sedan. 😕

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If you have or someone can provide a private guide that would probably be preferable.  Have you checked with anyone on your role call to see who they are using?  There are names that pop up here now and again but they seem rather ephemeral, have no idea what you would get.  Not having a recommended name I would think you would be better off with the ship's excursion, I know they can be a bit cumbersome at times, but I feel sure you would get a much better presentation of the history of Portobello on a ship's tour than you ever would from cabby of the day.  Even though English is widely available in Panama (particularly in Colon) a lot of cabbies don't seem to be all that proficient. Also their rendition of the history can be a little imaginative.

 

One other thing I can mention, seems like all the tours that I have seen of late that mention Gatun Locks... I guess the cruise lines have not updated their tour descriptions.  The visitor's center at Gatun Locks has been closed and most of it has been demolished.  I suspect that instead of Gatun Locks they will take you to the visitor's center at the new Agua Clara Locks, which is near by.

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On 9/29/2019 at 4:24 AM, SimplyMarvie said:

We're trying to figure out what the heck to do with our day in Colon on RCCI in December, and I'm angsting about whether to book the Gatun Locks and Portabello excursion with the cruise line. We're a family of 5 with middle-school aged kids and we're pretty active with a life-long fascination with piracy in the Caribbean -- so this seems like it might be the perfect excursion for us... but I'm worried that it's going to be a big bus without a lot of freedom to really dig into the site. That said, I've done some research and a way to do it independently does not seem to be presenting its self. 

 

Thoughts or recommendations? I'm open to just hiring someone to drive us, but since we're 5, it's hard to just grab a taxi as we don't fit into a standard sedan. 😕

 

I was also looking at this excursion.  Can you let me know if you decided to take this excursion and how it was?  We are going in March.

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24 minutes ago, ValerieJo said:

 

I was also looking at this excursion.  Can you let me know if you decided to take this excursion and how it was?  We are going in March.

 

 

We don't sail until the week after next (!!) but we ended up booking an independent excursion through Viator rather than this cruise ship excursion. I read some more reviews, and they weren't reassuring -- apparently the Portabello site is very muddy and far out and there isn't much to see there. 

 

We chose a smaller excursion that does the locks, a short rainforest tour and then the San Lorenzo fort, which is closer in and less likely to be a fetid swamp of muck and mosquitos. I'll report back and let you know how it goes! 🙂 

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On 11/29/2019 at 4:29 PM, ValerieJo said:

 

I was also looking at this excursion.  Can you let me know if you decided to take this excursion and how it was?  We are going in March.

 

We're back from our cruise and did the San Lorenzo excursion with the locks. San Lorenzo was lovely, and the locks were cool but I kind of wish that we'd taken the ride to the locks on the other side at Miraflores locks, which have a lot more interactive stuff for kids. Not a hundred percent sure that it would have been worth missing the pirate fort which was pretty cool. 🙂

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