My husband and I are planning on a cruise to Panama Canal. The 10-day one that goes thru the canal and back thru. I'm saving the Mexican cruise for another time... When is the besy time to take this cruise ? Anyone out there cruised this before ? I am looking at April or October. Opinions please...
We did the 10 day San Juan to Acapulco in March of 2000 and the weather was perfect then! We saw some of Costa Rica and a little (enough) of Acapulco so plan to do the Mexican Riviera RT out of Calif. sometime. I had heard the Acapulco airport was the airport from Hell & found that to be true! If Acapulco is on your itinerary - I'd fly in instead of out!
We took the Amsterdam on a 10 day through the canal cruise in April. We sailed from Costa Rica to Ft. Lauderdale. Although I had a major problem with HAL, there was nothing wrong with the itinerary. San Jose, Costa Rica is a wonderful airport to fly into, modern with a very fast customs and immigration. If I ever did it again, I would fly in a couple of days early since Costa Rica is a beautiful country with a lot to see. The hotel that HAL uses, the Camino Real is gorgeous. You face a horrendous 3 hour drive down the Pan American highway to Puerto Caldera (not much to see there and extremely hot). We only had 4 ports of call and what made it worth the whole trip was the stop in Nicaraugua. We did a tour called "Horses and Coffee." One of Nicaragua's leading families owns a coffee plantation up in the hills. They also raise Andulusian horses and give you a horse show. The family spent the Sandanista years in Miami, my hometown and I found them absolutely fascinating and fabulously hospitable. But one of the reasons I live here is a love of Hispanic culture. After we sailed through the canal and entered the Caribbean, the temperature dropped twenty degrees, the humidity dropped and the Caribbean breezes started blowing. Enjoyable cruise but you are almost on top of the equator for part of it so that part will be very hot.
If you're talking about a round-trip Panama Canal (Ft Lauderdale to Ft Lauderdale) I don't believe these "go through" the Canal, but I could be wrong. On the Ft L to Ft L you go through the first set of locks and then cruise Gatun Lake before exiting back out through the first locks. It would give you a feel for the Canal, but not a real Canal crossing experience, which is a must-do for any cruiser person.. I last did the Canal on Dawn in May 2000 on a repositioning itinerary San Juan to Acapulco, the ship and some passengers went on to Vancouver. We didn't call on Costa Rica and from what I've heard about seeing it off cruise ship, didn't miss much. I loved Acapulco though and stayed a couple extra days, and I didn't find the airport all that bad, though it was very hot and generally somewhat uncomfortable. I preferred it to the long delay in the Dallas airport, which has never been a favorite of mine anyway (no offense, Dallas), If you do the Canal, it's worth getting a balcony, you'll want to be up front for the locks but I loved watching the Canal go by from my own balcony with room service lunch, etc. Happy planing, and cruising!!
thank you for your experiences and opinions... i'm sooo glad i found this website - i am on a lot, read a lot of it, especially the princess cruise lines since was my first cruise we took. and thanks for the panama canal trip tip. think i will rethink that one. i'm the "cruise / vacation" planner and i have a lot of fun planning our trips. but the first time i stepped on the grand, i said "mama is home!!!" haha i knew that cruising was for me from now on !!! haha
October or early November probably would be less crowded, primarily because no schools anywhere have vacations at that time of year. This means that your chances of getting an upgrade are very full, and of course the crew can devote more attention to each passenger when there are fewer passengers aboard.
The drawback to October or early November is that it's the tail end of hurricane season. The great advantage to a cruise vacation is that the ship will simply go elsewhere if a hurricane is approaching its intended track -- but the consequence might be that you don't get to a scheduled port of call.
Given my 'druthers, I would opt for October.
MV Sun Princess is a wonderful ship. Have a great cruise!
I imagine if Puerto Limon, the other port in Costa Rica is as exciting as Puerto Caldera is, cruise passengers are getting a terrible impression of Costa Rica, and nothing could be further from the truth. Costa Rica is a GORGEOUS Country with a strong record of tourism. In the 1940's and 50's, American teachers were hired to work in Costa Rica to improve the educational system and the teachers impressed the pupils of the importance of preserving land in national parks. As a consequence, Costa Rica dedicates more of it's landmass to national parks than any other country in the world! The country abolished it's army in 1948 and the government is stable. These are some of the nicest people in the Americas and the country is really like paradise. Huge amounts of Americans retire there because the cost of living is reasonable and it's sooo beautiful. Maybe I'll join then one of these days.
We are fans of both Princess and Celebrity and were torn between
which itinerary and time of year to choose. We chose MV Mercury
(Celebrity) and went from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale (14 days)
last November.Only 5 ports (all wonderful in their own way) and
a full transit of the canal.Mid November is pretty much past any storm threats. The ports are what you make of them.There is
absolutely nothing in Puerto Calderra in Costa Rica. To see
anything of the country you Must book an all day tour to the interior.Don't think of it as a long boring bus ride(for you will spend a lot of time on the bus) but rather watch the scenery(gorgeous) change as you climb into the mountains on the Pan American Highway We were taken shopping and sight seeing in coffee country, then to the capital where we saw the Opera House and toured the National Mueseum. Had a Costa Rican lunch served at one of the major hotels complete with seranade and local beer.
Believe me ,your photos will be gorgeous and the experience
worthwhile. I shot 19 roles of film (including 2 underwater),400
shots on digital camera and 3 roles of video on this cruise.
We have cruised 8 times ,this was an experience not to be missed.
Whatever cruise you take, make it one that does a full transit of the canal and read up on the building of the canal before you go.
It will give you a greater appreciation for the transit.
One more tip in an already lengthy reply,if your itinerary includes Cartegena don't be put off by this being Columbia but,
do take only an organized tour off the ship.This is a beautiful
city with 400+ years of history. Between the Fort, Mt Popa,
the old city, St Peter's Church and the shopping centers of the "new " city there is much to see, but don't strike out alone.
This is not a port for independent adventure.Ok enough. Book the cruise and go.This is the cruise you will not forget.