Just back from the Brilliance Panama Canal itin. It was a great cruise and a very interesting experience. The ship arrives at the canal very early, about 5:00 am, and waits it's turn to enter the canal. Then you go through the locks on the Caribbean side onto the lake. The ship then "tenders" passenger ashore who have excursions booked through the cruise line, and waits around for it's turn to go back through the locks returning to the caribbean and docks at Cristobal pier. At the Cristobal pier all passengers who wish to get off the ship can do so. Passengers who have shore excursions are returned to the Cristobal pier somewhere in themid afternoon. The ship sailed from Panama around 7:00 pm.
The transit of the locks was fascinating, and very educational. If you've never done it before, it's something to see. It's amazing how it was built and how perfectly it works, after all these years they still do it essentially the same way they did when it was first buit. The Brilliance is a "Panamax" ship, which means that it is the largest class of ships which can fit through the canal. It really filled the locks there was not much room, and in fact they "bumped" it when it went through, I'm sure the Captain was pleased.
If you ask me, it was a very worthwhile experience.