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KJ February 18th, 2003 02:53 PM

Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
Hi everyone.
Is anyone going to be on the Spirit from SanDiego to Miami?
Can anyone give me any advise to pass on to my Mother regarding her trip. Things not to miss or things to stay away from.
We have been looking into the trip and don't see anywhere we can get off the ship to see it go through the locks.
The stops include:
Puerto Vallarta
Puntaarenas, Costa Rica
Panama Canal Transit
Cartagena, Columbia
Thank you for any information you may provide.

CLWallag February 18th, 2003 07:16 PM

Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
Hi KJ,
My husband and I are doing the same Itinerary the opposite way(Miami to San Diego) on April 1st. I have been reading all the different cruise boards and havn't seen alot about that particular intinerary. I know that we don't get off at the locks. You have to view them from the ship. Also there was one poster that went on this trip also aboard the Spirit(by the way I forgot to mention we will be on the Spirit also) and he said due to problems in Colombia, they didn't stop there. They went to Ocho Rios Jamaica instead. He went last November. I called Carnival to see if we were stopping in Colombia or not. The girl said it was still showing on the intinerary, but the Captain may decide after sailing to replace it with somewhere else. It's up to the Big Guy!!
Do you have a list of the available shore excursions? If not call Carnival or your TA and they will fax or E-mail them to you.
If you want to give me your e-mail address I can give you alot more info. when I get back . We are returning the Thursday before Easter so I probably would email you within the next couple of weeks after our return.
I may do a review on this board or or maybe both. I can let you know.
If you have any other basic questions feel free to ask I've been on many cruises(this will be my 12th). I'm not sure I'll have the answers, but I have been researching this trip for a few weeks now so you never know. !
Also this will be the second time on the Spirit (went to Hawaii last year on her) so if you have any questions about the ship, hopefully I can help you out.
Take Care

nancypaul February 26th, 2003 03:36 PM

Re: Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
Hi CL,
my husband and I will also be on the April 1 trip and this is our first cruise with Carnival. we are wondering how many formal nites there will be? also wondering how to pack for 16 nites! hope the coin laundry is available.

CLWallag February 26th, 2003 07:36 PM

Re: Re: Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
I called Carnival to ask them about the formal nights, and I was suprised to find out that there will only be two. Same as a 7 night! I'm not complaing though, I don't like formal nights! As a matter of fact this will be the first cruise that we are leaving our formal wear at home and skipping the diningroom those nights. On our past 10 cruises we have participated in formal nights. I think the longer cruises like this one, are little more layed back.
There is a laundry room. I think it cost 1.00 to wash. I'm not sure what the dryers cost, usually they are less than the washers. Also there are ironing board and irons available(I can't remember if they are free or not.)
In the cabins they have blow dryers, so that's one less thing you have to pack!!
Well Good Luck! If you have any more questions, just Ask! (I've been on the Spirit once before!)

nancypaul February 27th, 2003 02:00 PM

Re: Re: Re: Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
CL ,
thanks for information, glad to hear it is only two nites also, maybe we will be able to get all our stuff in the two suitcases ea. that the airlines allow. We are really looking forward to seeing the canal.

burtshell February 27th, 2003 02:46 PM

Re: Re: Re: Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
just read your answer re: formal nights on the spirit-april 1st-panama.
my wife and I will be on the ship.
Regarding formal attire-My feeling is you should not go to the buffet on those nights.Just go to the dinning room and wear something that you would wear to any nice restaurant. I ran the gamut from suits,tux etc,but on this cruise all i will take is a sport jacket.
we just came off the ncl dawn which features freestyle dinning. That is the way to go.
I will no longer wear very fancy clothing on a cruise,especially a warm climate cruise.
Europe is a different story...........
Hope to see you on the ship.
by the way we live in florida by way of brooklyn,n.y. and bellmore,long island.
My wife and I are retired New York City school teachers.
We have been on many cruises,last count was 40+ and we have seen all types of dress on formal nights. Since we do not drink we haven't been to the captain's reception on many ships. Just wear what you feel comfortable and have a great time.

Jim Bragg February 27th, 2003 02:59 PM

Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
The "suggested attire" IS in fact formal wear or a dark suit. Nowhere will you see it said to 'wear what you think is comfortable'. It is the same as a fine dining establishment onshore that says "jacket and ties required", you are expected to be nice and follow the suggested rules.

CLWallag February 28th, 2003 09:16 AM

Re: Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
I don't think we need to start the Dress Code thing again!!! But as for skipping those nights is the diningroom, that is a personal choice. I like to skip a few nights and just relax and maybe have some pizza and a beer, and watch the sunset with my hubby. In my opinion that is a nice change of pace from the diningroom scene. Don't forget this is a 16 day cruise, so there will be plenty of meals in the diningroom. I don't go for all that formal stuff(to stuffy in my opinion.) Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against it, for the people who enjoy it. I just don't enjoy it! Like I said in a previous post, I have participated in many formal nights, this is the first time I plan on skipping them. My DH and I usually skip a coulple of nights on all the 14+ cruises we have been on.(we like a couple of nights just doing our own thing). So choosing to skip the formal nights on this cruise means we don't have to take a suitcase filled with formal attire + accessories for just two nights of dining. Anyways we thought we would try it.
Don't worry Jim, I won't be wearing my jeans to FORMAL NIGHT !
Happy Cruising everyone!!

Dick & Marge February 28th, 2003 10:25 PM

Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
We did this cruise same direction over one year ago. It was one of the best we have been on and we really enjoyed the Spirit. As for the canal. You cannot get off the ship during the passage, but enjoy the view from your balconey it's great! As for other ports...P.V. has a lot to do for the one day stop. Snorkling at Los Arcos or the new "rain forest" adventures for the more "fit".... shopping in the downtown, lying on the beach at one of the nearby hotels....lots to do. Ixtapa... Zia is one of our favorites just a wonderful leasure day in a most beautiful setting. Acupulco... join with a couple or two and hire your own van and guide... they are wonderful and you'll see all the highlights. The old town in right near the dock for the adventuresome. Puntarenas... at the end of the pier you can hire your own guide and head out for the volcanoes... the rain forest ... rafting or whatever. When you go into the highlands of the interior it is gorgeous (you may want to just stay in Costa Rica), but get out of Puntarenas and see the country... it's beautiful away from the docks. The passage through the docks is fascinating and the sun is ready to burn those who aren't careful as you are very close to the equator. Wish Panama City was on the itinerary but you can see it as you enter the canal zone. Cartenega is a wonderful magical city seeming sitting right on the water. Be sure and visit old town area very interesting. There are a lot of street hawkers, but you can get a great guide (taxi or van) right at a wonderful terminal at the end of the docks. We also really enjoyed the days at sea on this cruise... just a nice mix, though would have liked maybe one more caribean port to visit. We had a tropical storm in the Pacific and a hurricane in the Carribean, but the ship handled both wonderfully and even my wife who gets seasick easily was confortable in all sea conditions (65 knot winds and 12 foot + seas failed to effect our comfort on this cruise.) Hope you enjoy as much as we did and that this helps.

CLWallag March 1st, 2003 12:45 PM

Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
Dick and Marge,
Thanks for the great review!
Did you do any of the tours offered on the ship? Or did you hire a driver at all the ports?
We were thinking of doing the volcano tour in C.R, (not sure yet), as we are getting mixed reviews. You mentioned different things to do in each of the ports, but it wasn't really clear what you actually did. Could you give more details on what type of tours your party did (whether you did them from the ship or not). I would really appreciate it! It's hard to get info. on this itinerary, most people post about the caribbean!
Thanks again!

Dick & Marge March 2nd, 2003 08:46 AM

Re: Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
We took our on drivers in all ports... there were seven of us and the vans worked out great usually with an english speaking guide in both CR and Cartagena. The ship uses the big busses and was just not our cup of tea. In CR we went to the volcano (we beat the buses and just after we got there the fog closed in so you never know, but on the way back we stopped for lunch and visited Saarchi and a couple of other sites and on the way up stopped at a nursery and butterfly farm... so the vans can be modified for whatever you want in the time frame you hire them for.) Don't be afraid to check our a couple of alternatives if you feel the first one was not reasonable though we always found them to be) Good luck

carrie March 2nd, 2003 04:03 PM

Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
Dick and Marge,
Thanks for the response to my post. I just have a couple more questions, if you don't mind answering them. How would we go about doing the Poas Volcano on our own? There is four in our party. Is there alot of tour operators or cabs for hire right where you get off the ship? What would you say is a good price if we wanted to hire someone for 8 hrs? And one last question, do you remember how long it took time wise to get to the volcano? I've gotten responses that varied from 1.5 hrs to 3 hrs one way! If it takes 3 hrs one way that means 6hrs on a bus!! (that is if we take the ships tour).
But even in a tour van or cab that alot of sitting!
I would appreciate any answers you can give me!! Thanks

dezertcruzer March 2nd, 2003 06:49 PM

Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
Hi, KJ. My husband, Josť and I will also be on the Spirit 11/1/03. By the time it rolls around, it will have been 17 months since we booked it, so we are really looking forward to it. Are you going, or just your mother?

We will be venturing out on our own in Puerto Vallarta. I have been there many times. I have friends who live there, and before I met Josť I used to go there with my daughter all the time. I want to hire a cab and do a city tour and go down to Mismaloya Beach so that Jose can get an overview of the area. Then I think we will just walk around the old part of the city and shop and eat, and have a beer or two. If my friends can get away from work to spend a few hours with us that will be an added bonus!

I've never been to Ixtapa or Acapulco, but I doubt if we'll do organized ship's tours because we both speak Spanish and we can just hire a local guide.

My husband is from Costa Rica, and we haven't decided yet whenter to invite all the kids and grandkids to come from San Rafael de Heredia to Puntarenas and do a beach day with them, or hire a car and go honme for the day. We have a little house there.

We are really hoping that we do stop in Cartagena. Everything we've ever heard and read about it makes it sound like a lovely port, and we would hate to miss it.

E-mail me if you would like to pan a get-together.

dezertcruzer March 2nd, 2003 06:51 PM

Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03

That was me who posted right above. Apparantly, for some reason, I wasn't logged in, so my signature didn't show up and I can't edit the post! LOL! I'm sure you figured out that I meant "plan" a get-together, not "pan!"

Dick & Marge March 2nd, 2003 08:06 PM

Re: Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
I'm a little hazy on the timing to get to the volcano, but we stopped at the butterfly farm on the way up and walked up to the volcano and back down just as the buses got there, so I think it was somewhere around 1-2 hrs. Then on the way back they took us to few places including a "metal" church and then Saarchi for lunch. We bought the driver and guide's lunch and enjoyed their company. Then back to the ship, so probably gone about 6 hours.... I think for the seven of us it was about $35-40 dollars a person, but much less than the tour bus (it is negotiated at the pier... early off gives you pick of the litter so to speak.) We did give the guide a tip at the end and something for the driver to ... it was well worth it. With the stops it wasn't that bad and when you get into the mountains the weather is cool and perhaps a little rainey... in the 70's most of the time. Hot and humid at the port and just remember that the rest of CR is much more lovely than the port is. (Boy is that an understatement) They do have an interesting flee market right next to the pier, but very touristy trinket type stuff.

By the way Cartenega blew me away. That was the surprise of the whole trip... from the sea it looks like the whole city is just sitting on the water.... a wonderful place.... to bad about all the problems that are going on, though we never felt it when we went there.

carrie March 3rd, 2003 08:06 PM

Re: Re: Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
Dick and Marge,
Thanks again for all the info.! It was of great help! I think we will try to get a guide once were in port. Hopefully we find a good one like your group did!!
Take Care and Happy Cruising!

noslen3333 March 4th, 2003 06:11 PM

Re: Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
hi everyone. My husband and I will be on this cruise. I can't wait. However, I'm having trouble finding the shore excursions. I've gone to Carnival's web page and some of those ports aren't listed. Can ya'll tell me where you got your info? Any help would be appreciated. By the way, we are from Texas and travelling to California by train so that too will be a fun experience I hope.

carrie March 4th, 2003 07:36 PM

Re: Re: Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
Carnival will e-mail or fax you the shore excursion info., if you call and request it.
If you went through a TA, you might need to have them call Carnival.

Larry April 6th, 2003 09:06 PM

Re: Re: Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03
I will also be on the Nov 1 sailing of the Sprit thru the Canal. I live in Washington State and if time will permit will also take Amtrak from Seattle to San Diego. I did the Spirit from Vancouver to Hawaii two years ago and did the Pride Eastern Caribbean last Nov. I do enjoy the long cruises.


dezertcruzer April 6th, 2003 10:56 PM

Re: Spirit, Panama Canal Nov 1, 03

Jose and I will look forward to gettng to know you a little better before November rolls around. Are you traveling by yourself? We are a couple in our 50's. I'm a native Arizonan and Jose is from Costa Rica. We're looking soooo forward to this Panama Canal transit!

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