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AtleeH

Southern Caribbean Sunfarer Cruise.

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I believe that's the name of the cruise.  It's the one that goes out of Ft Lauderdale and contains a partial crossing of the Panama Canal.  Has anyone done that cruise?  Was it a good one?  Pros?  Cons?

 

Was the ship the Zuiderdam?  If so, what are some good Verandah cabins to get?

 

We're thinking of doing that cruise March 8th.  I personally think it would be neat to go through the canal locks.  Of course, my wife has transited the entire canal way back in the mid 60's when her dad and family were coming back from a government posting in Santiago, Chile.

 

Thanks.

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We did the partial transit a few years ago on the Zuiderdam and loved it. We had an aft corner Neptune suite and the experience was fabulous. Did not do an excursion while in Lake Gaugon(sp), but stayed on the ship and watched all the freighters come and go through the locks. Weather is VERY hot, so make sure you have plenty of sunscreen and a hat!  We loved it so much we are doing the full transit this January with another aft cabin. 

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There are many discussions here on the Zuiderdam. The partial transit is a good introduction to the Canal, but a full transit is better.

 

Note the options to get off in Lake Gatun, to do excursions that may include seeing the rest of the Canal area by either ferry or bus. Only people on shore excursions can get off in Lake Gatun. Or you can stay on board and return back through the Gatun Locks on the ship.

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3 minutes ago, CruiserBruce said:

There are many discussions here on the Zuiderdam. The partial transit is a good introduction to the Canal, but a full transit is better.

 

Note the options to get off in Lake Gatun, to do excursions that may include seeing the rest of the Canal area by either ferry or bus. Only people on shore excursions can get off in Lake Gatun. Or you can stay on board and return back through the Gatun Locks on the ship.

I'm sure a full transit is the best way to go, but that isn't in the cards, at least now, so I'll just be content to see one end of the canal.

 

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12 minutes ago, cabinluvn said:

We did the partial transit a few years ago on the Zuiderdam and loved it. We had an aft corner Neptune suite and the experience was fabulous. Did not do an excursion while in Lake Gaugon(sp), but stayed on the ship and watched all the freighters come and go through the locks. Weather is VERY hot, so make sure you have plenty of sunscreen and a hat!  We loved it so much we are doing the full transit this January with another aft cabin. 

 

Me, too. I'm doing it again in February, in a corner aft. I did an excursion last time to see the new locks. This time I'll stay onboard and relax.

 

The full transit is absolutely worth doing, but I've done it twice so I'm content with the partial and more Caribbean ports included rather than Mexico.

 

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In 2016 we took NCL partial transit. In 2018 we took a 3 week Viking cruise (when we were still able to see Cuba, full transit)

If you are short on vacation time, you will still get a great partial transit. I have hours and hours of filming the canal and loved every moment. I filmed my husband a few times on our balcony holding a Bloody Mary.. napping... eating... napping.. holding a glass of champagne.. I believe he found it a tad less exciting than I.  

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7 minutes ago, Seasick Sailor said:

In 2016 we took NCL partial transit. In 2018 we took a 3 week Viking cruise (when we were still able to see Cuba, full transit)

If you are short on vacation time, you will still get a great partial transit. I have hours and hours of filming the canal and loved every moment. I filmed my husband a few times on our balcony holding a Bloody Mary.. napping... eating... napping.. holding a glass of champagne.. I believe he found it a tad less exciting than I.  

 

Not everyone is excited by it. I'm a tech geek so I loved seeing how it works. Even on my third time I was up early at the bow with the many other crazy people. Later that day, I met a woman on deck who shrugged and said "It isn't very pretty." I guess she thought "canal" meant it would look like Venice? 

 

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There was a recent thread on here with a link to a  blog that has photos etc that they did on their Zuiderdam cruise.  I don’t know how to attach the link but they did the partial on the Zuiderdam.  I did this cruise a couple years ago with my daughter on the Zuiderdam and loved it.  (I have also done full transit but my daughter couldn’t get as much time off work for the full transit).

 

I think you’d love it OP!  My daughter was up early to be at the front of the ship as it approached the locks.   In my opinion it doesn’t matter what balcony you have as I’d encourage you to walk around to different spots to get the full affect.

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We have done the partial Panama Canal cruise on the Zuiderdam several times.  It is a great introduction to the working of the Gatun Locks.  

 

No matter whether we do a full transit (have done quite a few of them) or a partial, we are always up early so that we can watch as we line up to start the passage through the locks.

 

Don't forget to try the Panama Rolls -- available only on this day.

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I have done this twice, the most recent cruise was in October!  Seeing the Canal has been a bucket list item for me.  I loved it, and now I just need to do the full transit.  I have had tears both times before starting into the locks.  I had never seen any kind of locks before my first time.  Watching the locks operate is just a marvel to me!

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You don't have to choose between a partial cruise and a full transit!  There is an excursion whereby you get off of your ship and onto a 300 passenger boat and transit the remaining locks -- all the way to the Pacific Ocean!  Then they bring you back to your ship by bus!  

 

It's a much more intimate experience than doing the entire transit in a ship!

 

It's a long, hot day but we wouldn't have missed it for the world.  Bring a hat and sunscreen and a handfan or battery operated one but just don't miss this opportunity!!!

 

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Thanks everyone for the replies.  Good information.

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4 hours ago, ithaca gal said:

You don't have to choose between a partial cruise and a full transit!  There is an excursion whereby you get off of your ship and onto a 300 passenger boat and transit the remaining locks -- all the way to the Pacific Ocean!  Then they bring you back to your ship by bus!  

 

It's a much more intimate experience than doing the entire transit in a ship!

 

It's a long, hot day but we wouldn't have missed it for the world.  Bring a hat and sunscreen and a handfan or battery operated one but just don't miss this opportunity!!!

 

Do you remember how much this excursion to the Pacific ocean is?

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2 hours ago, AtleeH said:

Do you remember how much this excursion to the Pacific ocean is?

We just did this cruise in November on the Zuiderdam. As the past commenters said, you have to be on a HAL excursion in order to get off in Gatun lake. We did the ferry to continue the transit to the Pacific and it was just about $200 per person. We are very happy that we did this excursion. Prepare for a long, hot day but it was worth it. 

 

As the Zuiderdam is going through the Gatun locks, walk around the ship. It’s important  to see all the different views as you go through. The best part of our transit was watching from the aft since the Rotterdam was following us. 

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Posted (edited)

.We did this cruise almost a year ago on the Zuiderdam. It was the 12-day version that included a half day stop in Cartagena.  In our opinion, that was too short a stop and not worth it.  On our shore excursion, we sat in traffic half the time.  Other than that, it was a nice trip and I totally geeked out over watching the locks in action from our balcony.

 

Ditto on the heat and humidity.  We get that for free here in the summer, so we did no shore excursions in Costa Rica.

Edited by Walfam

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On 1/1/2020 at 12:10 AM, ithaca gal said:

You don't have to choose between a partial cruise and a full transit!  There is an excursion whereby you get off of your ship and onto a 300 passenger boat and transit the remaining locks -- all the way to the Pacific Ocean!  Then they bring you back to your ship by bus!  

 

It's a much more intimate experience than doing the entire transit in a ship!

 

It's a long, hot day but we wouldn't have missed it for the world.  Bring a hat and sunscreen and a handfan or battery operated one but just don't miss this opportunity!!!

 

I second this advice! We did this cruise on the Zuiderdam in March and it was wonderful. This shore excursion is great because you see the canal from two vantage points: the deck of the cruise ship and up close and personal from your tour boat. You can even reach out and touch the walls of the canal as you lock down on the Pacific end.

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OK, it's a done deal now.  There will be four of us, my wife and me plus her sister and brother in law.  Really looking forward to it.

 

Thanks to all who responded to my initial question.  Now, I'll decide whether we will do the passage on the HAL sponsored excursion to the Pacific Ocean, and then back to the ship in Colon.  As I think I mentioned in my initial post, we'll be on the March 8 sailing on the Zuiderdam.

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Go to the Ports Of Call on the main page and look for Panama Canal, lots of photos & info. There is also a web cam to watch ships as the transit the canal.

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4 hours ago, AtleeH said:

Now, I'll decide whether we will do the passage on the HAL sponsored excursion to the Pacific Ocean, and then back to the ship in Colon.  As I think I mentioned in my initial post, we'll be on the March 8 sailing on the Zuiderdam.

Just be aware that this excursion can (not "will",  but can) be a 12-hour outing.  (I mention it in case there is a medications schedule or similar).
 

My husband did this excursion last year, from the Zuiderdam.   Their smaller excursion boat had to go thru the locks with and behind a very large cargo ship.  It took all day.  Our ship had to wait in Colon for their excursion group to return, before leaving port.   I think they were finally back on the boat by 8:00 pm?  It was dark outside.

 

Even with the long day, he said it was worth it.

Edited by Walfam

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32 minutes ago, Walfam said:

Just be aware that this excursion can (not "will",  but can) be a 12-hour outing.  (I mention it in case there is a medications schedule or similar).
 

My husband did this excursion last year, from the Zuiderdam.   Their smaller excursion boat had to go thru the locks with and behind a very large cargo ship.  It took all day.  Our ship had to wait in Colon for their excursion group to return, before leaving port.   I think they were finally back on the boat by 8:00 pm?  It was dark outside.

 

Even with the long day, he said it was worth it.

Thanks for the heads up.  Something to think about.  I'll have to ask the rest of the group if they might be up for this excursion.

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I have done that cruise several times and I have always enjoyed it!

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