Was in Panama just two weeks ago with Celebrity and did the two ocean railroad tour.
It was fun-- don't regret it at all but would not do it again. It's pretty much an all day affair counting the time for the bus ride to and from the train station going and coming, etc.--- trip pretty much goes alongside the canal. Stops at the locks on the " far " side where there is a viewing area to watch any ships going /coming through. We did not get to go into Panama City itself. Stopped for a short time on the outskirts. On the way back we had to wait for approx. 30 min. for a freight that was coming through. When we arrived back to Colon and got back to the ship there was very little time for any shopping. If you are considering this trip, I would not pay the extra money for the " dome " car-- there would be little to see looking up as most of the time you would be looking out at the canal, scenery alongside the tracks, etc. The train is smooth, quite, a/c with bathroom, etc. There are platforms outside the cars where you can stand and get good photos, etc. We spent as much time outside as inside.They served snacks and cokes, etc. Was a good experience and I'm glad I went.
We were also there approx. a year and half ago. Went into Gatun lake through the first set of locks on the Caribbean side. On that trip we took the tour to the Embera Indian Village. That was pretty much all day but it was really great. If you like nature, seeing other cultures. etc. I would recommend that one.
Hope you have fun no matter what you do.
After looking at Carnival's shore excursions at Colon, I don't see where they offer the " dome " rail car so ignore that part of my post.
That grand tour sounds good-- you might get to see more of the locks on it than on the two ocean rail tour. I think I might lean more toward the grand tour and the cost seems to be about the same. But then I have done the rail tour so--who knows. I'm sure you will enjoy whichever.
Jeff, not all ships that call at Panama enter the canal, therefore shore excursions are offered for those who would like to see the locks and their workings.
Some ships will enter the canal from the Caribbean side, go through the Gatun locks and then return through same. Then , of course, some make a complete transit of the canal and continue on to wherever.
Some just go to Panama ( normally Colon ) and for those who are interested in seeing something, then they have a variety of excursions to choose from. As stated earlier, not all ships that call at Panama actually enter the canal and locks.
we were in Colon last week and went to view the locks on our own by taxi. It was very interesting and I'm glad I got to see them. If we would do this port again I would probably just book an excursion with the ship.
It was a hassle haggling with the taxi driver over the price and then he seemed like he was mad at the price he agreed upon. He did what he asked but he was not friendly. We went back and shopped at the port which is really nice. As the previous poster said I did not feel safe to leave the port area. Next time we will know better.
I took a MSC Cruises ship excursion a couple of months ago, while in port at Cristobal, close to Colon. Bus ride on a comfortable bus with tour guide giving interesting information about Panama, partial transit of the canal by ferry. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I just got back from Panama a couple of weeks ago and did the Ocean to Ocean tour which went threw the locks and really enjoyed it. First we took a bus ride and the guide gave us some interesting history of Panama. After the tour we did not have to much time to shop at the Flee Market in Cristobal
I was just in panama on carnival liberty
we used my friend mario and laurie was our guide it was the greatest
we saw the canal, then and indian reservation that we went to buy canoe and a water fall
it was a long day but really great
laurie is british andhas been in panama for 30 years