Never been on a cruise before - scared stiff! But longing to leave the cold and snow behind. 10 days on Sun Princess to Panama Canal leaving Mar 6. Anyone else out there? Any words of wisdom? Countdown clock still many days away and ticking very sloooooowwwlllyyyy.
You'll have a wonderful time. The canal is unbelievable! Just be sure to check the schedule and plan on being as far forward on a deck as you can. Plan on bringing some sort of light rain gear (cheap plastic poncho) just in case its raining - which is more than likely. You definitely don't want to miss the locks, so make every effort to be on deck. It's really fun to see how they operate and watch how close the Sun gets to the sides of the locks. We went through on Mercury and had a total clearance of five feet (2 1/2 feet on a side) The engines that pull the ships through the locks are called "Mules" after the real thing. In the actual canal, watch for caymans along the shore (small crocodiles). If you haven't already, you should read up on the Panama Canal's history. It's pretty amazing to see what they went through to create it. Happy cruising!!
PS - Bring sun hats, sunscreen, binoculars, and lots of film!!
Try going to the stern(back) of the ship while being lowered through the locks . Hope there is a ship going through behind in the opposite lock. The effect of seeing a large ship above you like that is unbeliveable. Check out when the pilots board not only your ship, but even neater is seeing them board the big container ships by jumping from the pilot boats to rope ladders hung over the side.
The whole canal experience is quite marvelous.
Enjoy your first cruise.
There are LOTS of us out here. Some are more sane than others.
First thing, get your hands on a copy of "The Path Between the Seas". Wonderful book about the history of the canal. You could also buy that other wonderful book "Cruise Control" (OK, shameless self-promotion ... I wrote it) to get you organized for your first cruise. I believe both are available here on the CM "Bookshelf". .
I've done the canal twice and it is an awesome experience. The one thing you don't want to miss is how the "messenger lines" are given from the ship to the canal personnel. Two guys go out in a rowboat and capture the ship's lines then pass them to the "mules" which were mentioned before. It's so low-tech compared to the high-tech of the canal that it's past funny.
In years past, lots of other methods were tried to pass the lines, including harpoon-like things that kept hurting people ... but it was finally determined that the two dudes in the rowboat worked best.
We went through once on a "PanaMax" ship ... the largest that will fit through the locks. We could literally reach out and touch the sides of the locks. I think the clearance on each side was about six or eight inches.
What ports will you be visiting?
You have chosen a fabulous cruise for a first-timer !!!
Wow! Still uneasy (picture fire above me, sharks below me and hurling over the rail) but everyone here is so FRIENDLY I'm hoping I won't be uneasy for long. Our ports of call are Cozumel, Cayman Island, Costa Rica, Panama Canal and Cartegena. Start off and end up at Fort Lauderdale. Don't know what to take, how to dress - all the usual "unknowns". Thanks for suggesting Cruise Control - I'll find a copy right away. My husband could, on occasion, be classified as an "old fart" so that's why I picked this cruise - I figured the Canal would interest him. Really looking forward to it but will accept all the information I can get! Thanks a million everybody!
Welcome to the board! Please don't think it's unnatural to be at least a little apprehensive about your first cruise. We all were, too. Soon you'll be a veteran. Here's a link to a great packing list.
Hi Joelin and welcome to our friendly family. You will have a great time on your cruise; itís like potato chips you can't just take one. I have the copy of the book Cruise Control and loved it so much I purchased a copy for my Mom's first cruise.
Now CruiseAholic, why do you lie to people? Sane? hahahaha
Don't you believe him Joelin, but he IS a sweetie!
You will find lots of friends here!
Think of this, .........
you wont have to make the bed, or turn the covers down at night. You wont have to do anything at all or as much as you want.......and LUCKY YOU have a 10 cruise for your FIRST cruise!!!
Now we have intimidated Joelin with Calgon's packing list !!!
The part Calgon leaves out is: First, purchase 11 suitcases
Seriously, there are some other, rather lame, packing lists out there but Calgon's is THE BEST. There are things one might not want to inlcude (Do you REALLY need to take a Leatherman toolkit along?), but it's a great checklist for the things that one might find essential and not think about until it's too late.
Joelin ... you will find some the friendliest, most knowledgeable cruisers in the world here on CruiseMates. No question is silly, no fear is not validated. Keep asking, we will keep answering.
And I will be happy to design a day on Cozumel for you and the "old fart."
Thanks a million for your offer. We might just take you up on that. Hubby and I are in our mid-50's, travelling with another couple in their mid-40's to mid-50's (one of each!) Everyone here has been most helpful. I'll check in each day to keep tabs on everyone - hope all have wonderful cruises and lots of beautiful sunsets! You've been great!
Don't worry, we took a dear friend on a cruise with us. She was so terrified for the time before we left that she actually made herself sick. Well let me tell you, she loved it so much, she has two more booked already this year. So cruise on.
Welcome aboard, and check this site out often. Read reviews of the ship you are going on (always taken with a grain of salt), there are destination sections to read, too and ask alot of questions. You'll be fine and the canal cruise is great. I've done that twice once each way and thoroughly enjoyed it and would do it again. Remember, the hats even if it is overcast, lots of film, binoculars and do watch the ship pulling in the lock but also walk to the stern and get that perspective, too! Lots to see and a great experience. Susan will be cruisin'
Welcome to the boards. I know after this 1st cruise experience
you will be hooked on cruising and will be booking another ASAP.
Have a wonderful time - never done the Canal so be sure to
post a review when you return. By the way, you are leaving on
my Birthday. Celebrate for me!!!!!!
Great to have you join us chatting
Welcome to the CruiseMates family. It's a crazy, loony bunch, but kinder and more helpful people you won't find anywhere! Have a great time on your Panama Canal cruise. I haven't done the Panama Canal yet, but it's high on my list. To let you know how great this CruiseMates bunch has been to me, my husband and I cancelled a Panama Canal cruise we had booked over a year in advance to book the Let's Get Lei'd cruise with this bunch instead, and I can't wait to cruise with them. Stop by here daily, post often, and welcome!
Joelin: You won't be a "newbie" for long! A first cruise leads to a second, and a third, and on and on. I don't have that many actual cruises logged yet, but I feel like I have been on many, many more, thanks to all my cruiser friends. The information you can receive here on the CruiseMates boards (check out ALL of the categories) will have you feeling like a veteran in no time. And ASK all the questions that come to mind. You can bet everyone asked them at one time themselves.