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benzygirl

Which Panama itinerary is better?

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C726E87D-DD3B-46F6-9678-0CA454A2F567.thumb.jpeg.99607bf192010d893af6e51e3bd18a72.jpegJoy 1/16/21

Encore 2/16/21

Holding Haven Aft On each

Just got off Encore

Haven’t been on Joy

Thank you so much in advance!!

 

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It would depend if you have already been on the western Caribbean cruise. If so, I would opt for the southern route.

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I agree with the Encore sailing - Aruba and Curacao are nice - not as much to do in Santa Marta - was just there on the Gem and they held us for over an hour awaiting clearance. I have not been to the other ports but from the sounds of things Harvest Caye is not all that great

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22 minutes ago, 10XCruiser said:

I vote for @2  with Aruba and Curacao.  I have done both FYI

Wonderful to hear from someone who has done both.  Thank you!  Seems unanimous!!

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Another vote for #2.
I have been to nearly all of the places on both itineraries on various cruises. Out of all of those ports, Costa Maya, Roatan, and Harvest Cay would be among my least favorite places. On the other hand, Curacao and Aruba are good places to visit.

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Our itinerary on the Joy earlier this month was similar to the one you show.  We did Curacao, Bonaire, and Aruba.  Santa Marta was originally on the schedule, but was dropped a couple weeks before we sailed. Safety issues were cited.  They moved Cartagena up one day.  They then gave us a full day in Colon and anyone that had originally booked a tour for the canal day took it on that day instead.  If you did not have a tour booked, it was just a hang out on the ship day.  Colon is not a port where you get off the ship and just wander around.  20 minutes and were back on the ship.   On our transit day, we went thru the locks, anchored for a couple hours in Gatun Lake, then headed back out the same locks.   Had I known that we were just going to anchor, and not cruise around the lake, I would have booked a tour for Colon.   Rainforest tour in Costa Rica was very nice.  

 

Overall, I'd say Curacao was my favorite stop.  We were able to take the Discover Curacao tour and still have plenty of time to explore the port area.  

 

This was my first NCL cruise, so Joy is the only ship I know, but I thought it was awesome.  Not a single complaint. 

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Neither, better to do the full transit of the canal.

 

 

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#2 with Aruba and Curacao. We did a similar itinerary last year and enjoyed it. We were also scheduled to stop in Santa Marta, but it was changed to Bonaire, where we did an island tour.

 

One note about the Joy...it does not have a Thermal Spa. If that was something you enjoyed on the Encore and were looking forward to doing again, then you'll be disappointed if you sail on the Joy. Otherwise, the Joy is a beautiful ship. We sailed on her in September in Alaska.

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We also are holding spots on both ships for a partial transit of the canal.  We have been to most of the Western Caribbean ports; and have never been to any of the "ABC" islands.

 

Right now, we are inclined to go with the Joy.  First, it is $2K less than the Encore (at least it was when we booked both). It's possible the Encore would go down in price, but we will have to see. 

 

Second, there would be new ports for us on both ship itineraries.  We are not sure whether mostly new ports would be "too much of a good thing." We often stay on the ship during port days (love the sea days on trans-Atlantic cruises).  On the Joy, we will have port-intensive days intermingled with "whatever" days.  We have not been on either ship, but typically find enough to do on the Getaway class of ships -- another reason we may skip the "ABC" islands on this trip.

 

 

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5 hours ago, 4774Papa said:

Neither, better to do the full transit of the canal.

 

 


You beat me to it! 🤣

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17 hours ago, benzygirl said:

C726E87D-DD3B-46F6-9678-0CA454A2F567.thumb.jpeg.99607bf192010d893af6e51e3bd18a72.jpegJoy 1/16/21

Encore 2/16/21

Holding Haven Aft On each

Just got off Encore

Haven’t been on Joy

Thank you so much in advance!!

 

I SCREWED UP ON THIS.  THE 1ST ONE IS JOY 2/16 / THE 2ND ONE IS ENCORE 1/16

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17 hours ago, benzygirl said:

C726E87D-DD3B-46F6-9678-0CA454A2F567.thumb.jpeg.99607bf192010d893af6e51e3bd18a72.jpegJoy 1/16/21

Encore 2/16/21

Holding Haven Aft On each

Just got off Encore

Haven’t been on Joy

Thank you so much in advance!!

 

I SCREWED UP ON THIS.  1ST ONE IS JOY 2/16 & 2ND ONE IS ENCORE 1/16  SAME $$

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11 minutes ago, tulch said:

We also are holding spots on both ships for a partial transit of the canal.  We have been to most of the Western Caribbean ports; and have never been to any of the "ABC" islands.

 

Right now, we are inclined to go with the Joy.  First, it is $2K less than the Encore (at least it was when we booked both). It's possible the Encore would go down in price, but we will have to see. 

 

Second, there would be new ports for us on both ship itineraries.  We are not sure whether mostly new ports would be "too much of a good thing." We often stay on the ship during port days (love the sea days on trans-Atlantic cruises).  On the Joy, we will have port-intensive days intermingled with "whatever" days.  We have not been on either ship, but typically find enough to do on the Getaway class of ships -- another reason we may skip the "ABC" islands on this trip.

 

 

I screwed up on my dates.  The Encore Jan 16th is the same price as Joy Feb 16th.  Encore Feb is $2k more.  If you can go Jan that is the one I think is best.  But there is a huge difference in the Joy/Encore in Feb.

 

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I've been to most of the ports on both itineraries (exceptions are Puerto Plata and Costa Maya).  Harvest Caye and (especially) Roatan are very skippable, so I'd go with the Aruba/Curacao option. Santa Marta is nice, has a memorial to Simon Bolivar.

 

The full transit of the canal is better, but one advantage of these canal round trips is you can take a tour in Panama.  One time I took the ferry up the canal (ship's tour).  You get tendered off in Gatun Lake, take a bus up the canal a bit then a "ferry" (tour boat) through the remaining two lock sets all the way to the Pacific in Balboa beyond Panama City.  The little ferry shares the locks with cargo ships, and you might get to touch the lock walls, rarely possible in a big ship.  Then the tour has a bus back across the entire continent 🙂 to where the ship is waiting in Colon.  Long hot day, but memorable.

 

Another time was a tour of Panama city, nice in parts but not as interesting as the ferry.

 

Rob

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Hope you don't mind me jumping in to ask the canal experts a question.

 

I would love to use the old locks on a full transit.

 

Am I correct saying the bigger ships have to use the new locks due to size. Do the smaller ships always use the old locks or is it just a higher chance?

 

I would love to stay on the Sun to pass through the locks following my 15 day Alaska to San Diego but 2x15 B2B is impossible time wise, not to mention 30 days on one ship would probably be way too much for me. BUT... I so want to do it!

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1 hour ago, ziggyuk said:

 

Am I correct saying the bigger ships have to use the new locks due to size. Do the smaller ships always use the old locks or is it just a higher chance?

 

 

 

 

Yes, the bigger ships use the new locks due to their size.  Normally if a ship can fit in the original locks, those are the locks the ship will use.  However, there are occasions where a ship that can use the original locks will be accommodated in the new larger locks.  This will happen from time to time for Canal "convenience".  To the best of my knowledge there has not been any substitution of the new locks for a cruise ship that can use the original locks. 

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2 minutes ago, BillB48 said:

 

 

Yes, the bigger ships use the new locks due to their size.  Normally if a ship can fit in the original locks, those are the locks the ship will use.  However, there are occasions where a ship that can use the original locks will be accommodated in the new larger locks.  This will happen from time to time for Canal "convenience".  To the best of my knowledge there has not been any substitution of the new locks for a cruise ship that can use the original locks. 

 

Brilliant, that is exactly the information I needed 🙂

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1 hour ago, ziggyuk said:

 

 

Am I correct saying the bigger ships have to use the new locks due to size. Do the smaller ships always use the old locks or is it just a higher chance?

 

The smaller ships always use the older locks, as the new locks are much more expensive! I've been through the canal on the Sun, Star, and Bliss, only the last one had to use the new locks. The old locks are much more interesting.

 

Quote

I would love to stay on the Sun to pass through the locks following my 15 day Alaska to San Diego but 2x15 B2B is impossible time wise, not to mention 30 days on one ship would probably be way too much for me. BUT... I so want to do it!

 

Do it. 30 days goes very fast, you won't be bored. We prefer to combine cruises to be aboard for at least a month, preferably two.

 

Rob

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10 minutes ago, Rob_H said:

 

The smaller ships always use the older locks, as the new locks are much more expensive! I've been through the canal on the Sun, Star, and Bliss, only the last one had to use the new locks. The old locks are much more interesting.

 

 

Do it. 30 days goes very fast, you won't be bored. We prefer to combine cruises to be aboard for at least a month, preferably two.

 

Rob

 

I would so love too do it, I did a land based in Panama a couple of years ago and was fascinated watching ships go through the old locks, there and then I was determined to pass through on a ship in the future.

The 30 days is too long for annual leave, I'm self employed and can do it at a push but we just can't both do it.

 

Thanks for the additional advice on the locks btw, really helpful 🙂

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Also, read David McCulloch's book on the building of the canal, The Path Between the Seas.

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21 hours ago, Turtles06 said:


You beat me to it! 🤣

On full transit

Going from mia-to la.

Is there a better side of the ship?

Edited by benzygirl

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