My husband and I will be visiting here in Feb. 06. We have never visited this before and believe this will truly be a once in a lifetime experience for us. We are so excited! We are planning to spare no expense to take advantage of this experience to the fullest, since we will probably never get back there again.
Does anyone out there have any specific suggestions on how we can make the most of our time in the canal? (We are on the Galaxy, and I am told we only go part way in to the canal to Gutun Lake)
Get up front and dead center early as you approach the locks. This is where your best viewing will be. Then find a shady spot and enjoy the scenery along Gatun Lake. Unfortunately you will not get to see the actual dug out portion of the canal. As you come out of the locks on your return, go to the stren of the ship for a fabulous view back at the locks and hopefully another ship, above you.
We took the Panama Galaxy Cruise last January and had a great time. I highly recommend that you consider taking one of the many tours offered by Celebrity.
During this visit (this was our third visit to Panama) we took the "Grand Tour of Panama." This tour consists of a visit to the Gatun Locks and an Indian Village. About a three hours or so tour and very interesting.
Another tour that I can highly recommend (my preferred tour) is the Ocean to Ocean Train Tour. This is a great way to see, and tour, the Pacific side of Panama.
Without taking a tour, you will see very little of the Canal or Panama. The Canal is about 55 miles long and a partial transit, like the Galaxy visit, only covers about 5 miles I would guess.
Our stop in Panama (Colon) on the Celebrity Zenith two years ago did not include a partial transit of the Canal. But we did take a most interesting ship's tour by coach from Colon to the Miraflores Locks (Pacific entrance), where we had a guided tour of the facility and watched some container ships entering the Canal.
Then it was on to fabulous Panama City, where we stopped for an included restaurant lunch before visiting Casco Antiguo (historical colonial city), a cathedral and the National Theater. The tour was entitled "Panama City by Motor Coach", and it took 8½ hours before we returned to Colon. It's cost was $76 pp, and well worth it.
If you've never seen Panama City, you're in for a big surprise. It is a beautiful cosmopolitan city with its share of skyscrapers and interesting sights. We were amazed! If you get the chance to go there, don't miss it. You won't be disappointed.