I am just beginning to investigate a cruise to the Panama Canal, and have some questions.
Is there a line that does a better job in the Panama Canal? (For example, in Alaska, Princess and HAL get into Glacier Bay most often and have the land tour facilities.) I'm not asking which cruise line I would like best in general. I think I've got a fairly good idea about what each cruise line is like. I'm asking if there are any advantages that one specific line has over the others SPECIFIC TO the Panama Canal. Are there any must do ports? I know I want to do a full transit, but there seems to be a big variation on ports of call before and after the canal.
Also, when is the best time of the year weather wise? In particular, when is the drier season, or when is it less humid? Is it any cooler during some months, or is it too close to the equater for there to be any difference?
It would be impossible to answer your question about ships, ports and cruise lines without knowing more about you, your likes and dislikes, wants and needs.
I would go on a ship doing a full transit of the canal. Personally I like Celebrity and again personally I would go on Summit.
It is always hot in the canal zone . How hot is relative. Once you get up to 95 degrees or more with high humidity does it matter? You passage of the canal will likely begin early in the morning. by the time it gets really warm you can adjourn to airconditioned or shaded space to enjoy cruising the canal and lake.
The canal is located in one of the rainiest places on earth . That's where all the water comes from to operate the locks. There is no time of year that guarantees perfect weather.
Go to a good knowlegeable travel agent and ask these questions and let them ask you afew as well. They will guide you to a good cruise to suit your tastes.
We went in January which is the "coolest" time of the year. Also, that is the dry season. We had no rain but it was humid. Temps in the daytime was in the low 90's. Also, the sunlight was not directly overhead. I would reccommend that time of year. The crew had warned how hot it would be but I didn't think it was real bad. But I do think October or April would be much worse.
We also did a complete transit it January. It was very hot and very humid, as to be expected. No rain on our cruise. Going through the canal is going through the canal no different for any cruise ship. Its the total ship experience that you are looking for.
The Panama Canal is an awesome experience and i would do the total transit if you can.
Pick the ship that best suits your needs and has the ports of call that interest you.
I went on Crystal Cruises from Acapulco to Barbados in December 1999 and the cruise was amazing. The transit through the Canal was very hot and humid but not unbearable. You can always go inside to cool off and then go back out again. I would recommend doing the canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Entering the canal at sunrise was amazing. Seeing the sun rising over the Bridge of the Americas was something to behold. I also enjoyed the narrow parts of the Canal where you get a great view of the dense forests.
As to the ports of call, Caldera or Punteranas are nothing much to see. I did take an excursion to the volcano. Unfortunately, the volcano was covered in mist and we didn't see much but the bus trip was interesting as Costa Rica is a beautiful country. You get to see it from sea level to very high in the muntains. Aruba is a great port of call for the beaches and snorkelling. St. Maarten also has great shopping and beaches. I think some of the cruise ships stop now in Panama, which I would think would be very interesting.
I don't think it really matters what cruise line you take, because you will be amazed with the Canal. Definitely do the entire transit. The partial transit just includes Gatun Lake and you don't get to see the really interesting parts of the Canal in the middle of the jungle.