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We’re considering a 14 night FLL r/t  Viking cruise to the Panama Canal embarking on 2/21/23.  It looks as though it goes through the canal but doesn’t actually exit out the Pacific end. We want to experience sailing through as much of the canal as possible but don’t want a cruise longer than 2 weeks. My question:  How much of the canal does this cruise experience?


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Posted (edited)

Hi Ron,

Cruises that do the partial transit go through the Gatun Locks then anchor in Gatun Lake waiting for their return to the Caribbean time slot.  We have done this on Cunard but the route is the same.  I don't think any go all the way through and then back through to complete a r/t FLL cruise.  Still, the locks are very similar as they were built at the same time.  We had locals come aboard for entertainment and trinket sales while anchored in Gatun Lake.  A great trip when you don't have time for a longer cruise.  

Edited by Jim Avery
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We did the RT on another line and they offered an excursion where we could get on a smaller boat that went all the way through.  It was great way to experience the canal.  We actually got to touch the walls of the canal.  After we exited in the Pacific, we docked and were bused back to the cruise line ship which had exited the way they came in, through Gatun locks.  I don't know if Viking offers that excursion or not but if they do, take it!

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Just checked the itinerary and they dock at Colon, which is the commercial port on the Caribbean side. This isn't an overly safe port, so I don't recommend any independent travel outside the port gates. A shore-ex tour is safe enough.


Although the itinerary doesn't describe the Panama experience, I agree with Jim that you will most likely do the San Miguel Locks, which is a set of 3 locks up to Gatun Lake. The ship may then cruise around Gatun Lake before anchoring.


After Panama is Montegro Bay, a run of 680 nmls, which at 17 kts takes about 40 hrs. Therefore, to arrive about 07:00, they have to depart the Canal by about 17:00. This does not permit sufficient time to go all the way through and back. When doing a full transit, if entering the first lock at 06:00, you are normally at Bridge of Americas about 16:00.

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The “Classic Panama Canal Passage” is an 11 day cruise that starts in Ft Lauderdale and ends in Panama City on the Pacific side of the canal. It also sails the reverse direction. 

There is also Miami to LA cruise at 18 days. 

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