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Old March 22nd, 2008, 11:06 AM
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Default Panama Canal Cruise?!

Hi Guys,

Thinking of doing a cruise down the panama canal on the Mercury next Jan. Has anyone done this cruise or one similar?

Any advice about it before I put pen to paper and book it?!
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 09:49 PM
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One day, I will do this fabulous cruise..lucky you! Will you be doing a full transit? Everything I heard about going through the locks is just so interesting to me.

Before ships had balconies, people used to sleep on deck the night before, to save their space to see the passing. Now from the comfort of your balcony, you can enjoy this amazing sight.

I am sure you will get many responces, telling you just how fabulous this cruise will be!
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Old March 22nd, 2008, 10:03 PM
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We did a full transit of the canal in Oct 06 with HAL. It was worth seeing. I spent most of the time on deck or by a window looking at everything.
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Old March 24th, 2008, 06:52 PM
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Default Re: Panama Canal Cruise?!

MayMayMay,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Hi Guys,

Thinking of doing a cruise down the panama canal on the Mercury next Jan. Has anyone done this cruise or one similar?

Any advice about it before I put pen to paper and book it?!
That's a great cruise and itinerary aboard a great ship! Enjoy!

Norm.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 01:13 PM
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We're booked on the Mercury for this cruise on January 3, 2009 and absolutely can't wait! We booked early so we could have one of those huge balconies on the top deck................can't wait to hit that chaise lounge.............. 8)
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Old March 31st, 2008, 09:48 PM
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We did the very same Panama itinerary in December on Celebrity Summit. We did 10 days on Mercury (Mexican Riviera) two years ago also, so are familiar with that ship. Although the Summit is a bit nicer, you will have a great cruise. We loved the ports, especially Cartagena (don't listen to the scare mongers that tell you to stay on the ship in Columbia. Go on a tour!)
This was our first full transit Panama but had dgone in the Atlantic locks before. It is worth seeing, but takes a good deal of time. Expect some jostling and rudeness if you want to get a good spot. You can see just fine from ie. the Promenade deck and take it easy, while everyone is fighting for position at the bow. By the time you have passed through all the locks the crowds have tired and dispersed. We were eating dinner in the DR before we were through the last lock.
My husband's only complaint was that there were too many sea days and he got a bit bored.
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Old April 1st, 2008, 12:45 AM
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We did the full transit on the Summit in Jan. 2007 - was the best ever!!
The ship, the service (we had a CC cabin on Deck 9), the weather,
only downside was not too much shopping to speak of unless I was into
the Mexican sterling silver (which I am not). I totally fell in love with this
ship especially the Aqua Spa and the Thallossmy pool (spelling). We were
upgraded to CC class about 6 weeks prior to sailing for only $ 50 more pp
so we jumped at the chance. Great extra "perks" - our cabin was great
but will warn you the balconies on Deck 9 have an overhang from the
deck above - wihch can interfere with looking out on the horizon but on the plus side - our balcomy always had a bit of shade which was fine
with me. Like the other person mentioned, the day we did the canal was
really something - work up early about 6 am to see all these other
vessels in a "waiting pattern" - amazing. You will have to "jockey" if you
want to stand at the front - but by 11 or so, the crowds had thinned out
a great deal. Don't miss a photo op for the Bridge of the Americas and
the Centinnal Bridge. You will get some really great
information both on your tv and in the Celebrity theatre from guest lecturers - be sure to view them - will greatly increase your appreciation
of this amazing engineering project. The ports were interesting - I especially enjoyed Hutalco and Costa Rica (orchid farm). I also liked the
fact that "automatic gratuities" were not the norm. Our service was outstanding and our room stewards and waiters deserved every penny.
They were very pleasant and extremely accommodating (yes, I know it's part of their job) but they truly made us feel very special and comfortable. You will have an amazing trip.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 09:38 AM
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Questions about Panama Canal Cruise:
1) Which cruise line and/or ship would be best to take an elderly (80 yo) person who is on oxygen 24/7 and can't walk much.
2) East or west direction? Which is best if you are going one-way?
3) Would prefer to depart from San Diego (near to where we live), so the flight would be at the end of the vacation instead of the beginning (in case it is a nightmare...wouldn't want to start off on a bad note!)
4) Since we are traveling with someone with a disability and do not want to 'fight the crowds' at every turn, would a balcony room be better to view the canal?

Any other information you can think of...I would be SO appreciative. Best month (Jan, Feb?) etc. Our disabled companion will stay on board, but we would like to do some excursions. Rooms for singles? Are they way overpriced? Or is there a room-type that 3 could comfortably fit in? Should I just go find a travel agent to help, or just research online? HELP Please
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Old April 4th, 2008, 10:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by never-cruised
Questions about Panama Canal Cruise:
1) Which cruise line and/or ship would be best to take an elderly (80 yo) person who is on oxygen 24/7 and can't walk much. Probably Hal or Celebrity. Any ship will require some travel. You might want to consider taking a wheelchair as well
2) East or west direction? Which is best if you are going one-way?
I think eastbound ia better . The approach starts after daylight(eastbound) and not in the early morning (5AM -Westbound)
3) Would prefer to depart from San Diego (near to where we live), so the flight would be at the end of the vacation instead of the beginning (in case it is a nightmare...wouldn't want to start off on a bad note!) NO Answer
4) Since we are traveling with someone with a disability and do not want to 'fight the crowds' at every turn, would a balcony room be better to view the canal? You won't see all the canal . You almost have move from side to side or stay up on the bow. HAL or Celebrity would probably be better for you . Smaller and quieter ship , not as crowded

Any other information you can think of...I would be SO appreciative. Best month (Jan, Feb?) etc. Our disabled companion will stay on board, but we would like to do some excursions. Rooms for singles? Are they way overpriced? Or is there a room-type that 3 could comfortably fit in? Should I just go find a travel agent to help, or just research online? HELP Please
Hal has full transit in Feb. Celebrity has full transit in Jan . Both are from San Diego . If you can get to LA ,Azamara , Princess and RCI has full transit cruises in Jan. This info is for Jan/Feb 09

We enjoyed our transit of the canal in Oct 06. The best is to research on the web and then go to a travel agent . Because one person is disabled and on Oxygen , special arrangements will have to be made. I've heard that you have to arranged for Oxygen to be supplied by an outside supplier approved by the cruiseline. YOU can't bring your own tanks on board. The same would probably apply to flying. I've heard on one forum that a passenger(group) was left at the dock because the oxygen wasn't delivered to the ship.

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Old April 4th, 2008, 12:01 PM
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We did the full transit starting from LA last Jan, 2007. Yes, the ship does
start going through the canal pretty early but if you are an early riser
- it's amazing to see all the ships in a "holding" pattern waiting their turn. The large cruise ships are given preference and kind of go to the "head of the line". If you can be on deck early enough - you may see the actual
transfer of money take place. This is done in CASH by the way. Something like $ 50,000 depending on the tonage of the boats going through. Be sure to be on deck when going under the Centennial Bridge and the Bridge of the Americas - wonderful photo opportunity. Also you
can see alot from your TV in the cabin. Might be good for the person
who can't walk much.

Not sure about
doing the shore excursions in Cartegena like the other post recommended. We were not allowed to leave the dock area while in the canal. There was a native type of market set up in the terminal bldg. but
no passengers were allowed to leave.

Is the person on oxygen a family member?? You could probably all stay
in a Junior suite or check out the "wheelchair accessible" cabins. You
might find some that are adjoining so you could still have your privacy
but be right next door in case. The single supplements are usually pretty
expensive (something like 150 or 200 % of the per person fare when
sharing a cabin). I would most Definately use a TA - one that specializes
in cruises - they would have more info about all your questions and
advise about the oxygen and person with disabilities. Yes, you most
definately WANT a balcony - even though you might not see as much
of the transit as being on deck - it's still an awesome experience and
a balcony is so enjoyable regardless - just to sit and relax, enjoy the
world going by ---- oh, I wish I was cruising right now !! I use Sandi
and Angela from Cruiseplanners out of NC. 8) 8) 8)
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Old April 4th, 2008, 04:19 PM
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Sherrie, you have confused my comments on touring Cartagena, Columbia with the Cristobal Pier at Panama.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 05:03 PM
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Sorry.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 07:02 PM
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Thanks so much for your responses!! You all are so helpful. I'll check out everything you mentioned...especially the travel agent!

Blessings and happy cruising!
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Old April 5th, 2008, 10:30 AM
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Default Panama Canal

We took this cruise on Celebrity during December a few years ago. It was fabulous. We loved everything about it. The only disappointments were some of the ship shore excursions. We paid a lot of money for a jet boat ride and spent most of the time on the bus or sitting on the shore watching other passengers load and unload from the boat while we waited our turn. We did not get a balcony and did not need it. We were so close to the workers when we went through the canal we could touch them. We traveled on the Infinity but were on the Mercury and liked it too.
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Old April 7th, 2008, 07:18 PM
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never-cruised,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Questions about Panama Canal Cruise:
1) Which cruise line and/or ship would be best to take an elderly (80 yo) person who is on oxygen 24/7 and can't walk much.
All of the major cruise lines have reasonable accommodations for passengers with disabilities, though Holland America Lines has a longstanding reputation for going the extra mile with wheelchair lifts on tender platforms and pool lifts with staff who really do know how to operate them (primarily because they get a LOT of practice!). Nonetheless, each cruise line has its own personality and style that may make some lines a better match for your party than others. Even with a handicapped member in the party, I would be inclined to choose a cruise line with a style and personality that's a good match for my own.

Regardless of which line you choose, make sure you inform the cruise line of the passenger's needs (wheelchair, oxygen supply, special diet, etc.) when you book the reservation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
2) East or west direction? Which is best if you are going one-way?
Both directions are excellent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
3) Would prefer to depart from San Diego (near to where we live), so the flight would be at the end of the vacation instead of the beginning (in case it is a nightmare...wouldn't want to start off on a bad note!)
If crowds are an issue, you probably would be better off sailing westward. Fort Lauderdale International Airport tends to be horridly crowded when several cruise ships are disembark there, and the airline terminals simply do not have enough space for the cruise passengers who get dumped there early in the morning to await flights home throughout the day.

If you live in San Diego, you might want to plan to fly to Fort Lauderdale on the day before the start of your cruise. Otherwise, you might have to take a "red eye" flight to arrive before your cruise departs on embarkation day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
4) Since we are traveling with someone with a disability and do not want to 'fight the crowds' at every turn, would a balcony room be better to view the canal?
No. You'll be able to see only one side of the ship from your balcony, and you probably will not be able to hear the narration there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Any other information you can think of...I would be SO appreciative. Best month (Jan, Feb?) etc. Our disabled companion will stay on board, but we would like to do some excursions.
All of the major cruise lines actually offer some excursions that are suitable for passengers with disabilities. If your companion has limited ability to walk, arrange a wheelchair that you can take ashore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Rooms for singles? Are they way overpriced? Or is there a room-type that 3 could comfortably fit in?
Policies for "solo" travellers vary, but it's generally less expensive to pay twice the current sale fare for single occupancy than to pay the fare to which a lesser "single supplement" would be applicable. For a party of three, however, the better alternative might be a small suite in which the sofa makes up into a bed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
Should I just go find a travel agent to help, or just research online? HELP Please
I strongly recommend two things. First, go to your local bookstore, buy a travel guide to cruise lines and cruise ships, and read the descriptions of the major lines to get a sense which line would be the best match, in style and personality, for your party. Next, sit down with a travel agent who understands the cruise industry to discuss your preferences and your handicapped companion's needs and to book your cruise.

Norm.
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Old April 8th, 2008, 12:47 PM
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Default Panama Canal

Hi, we did Panama Canal on the Celebrity Summit in Dec 07 and it was wonderful. (KD - we were on the same cruise!). We went from Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles. It's an amazing experience and the best cruise I ever had. Do go for it, you'll have the time of your life!
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