Sun Princess Panama Canal Repositioning Cruise 9/2
I've been lurking on this board finding out as much as possible about cruising, and thought it was time to post a quick message myself!
We are booked on the Sun Princess out of Vancouver to LA, then LA to Ft. Lauderdale in a couple of weeks. Will anyone reading this post be on either of those sailings? Does anyone who has been on a Panama Canal cruise have any advise to offer? I understand that some Canal cruises only go through part of the canal, but this sailing will pass all the way through. I'm not sure about the Canal shore excursions and what you will miss on the ship if you are off doing a shore excursion. Do the ships dock for a certain amount of time?
Also, does anyone know of a good way to determine if we got a competitive fare? We are in an inside cabin (we hope to spend so little time in the cabin that we really didn't care that it didn't have a window) and are trying to figure out what a per person/per night "good" fare is for an inside cabin on this 19 night cruise (actually a 4 night and 15 night back to back). Someone said that if we paid less than $100 per person per night then that was good. Is that true??
Well, thanks in advance for the replies! It is great being able to read such a great variety of posts. Happy cruising!!
Re: Sun Princess Panama Canal Repositioning Cruise
We were on the Ocean Princess spring repositioning in the opposite direction - 22 days, San Juan to Vancouver.
I'm almost positive your cruise will not stop in Panama and you will not be able to do any canal excursions. Our ship did stop in Balboa Panama from 5:00 pm to 3:30 am to bunker after transiting the canal, but this was an anomaly and was not on the itinerary. We were very lucky to have this extra port and could go into Panama City (a short taxi ride away). I believe it is only the partial transit cruises that have excursions when the ship is in Gatun Lake.
There are small decks all the way forward on Aloha, Baja and Caribe (white crescent-shaped areas on the deck plans) that most people don't know about. These make excellent viewing platforms while transiting the canal and in the locks. Aloha is best because you have some shade from the bridge directly above, and it will be hot! However, you will move around the ship because the canal transit takes all day.
Our cruise was marketed in Canada as the 'Spring Panama Canal Adventure' but was in actuality three seperate bookings/cruises:
12-day Panama Canal (San Juan - Acapulco)
7-day Mexican Riviera (Acapulco - LA)
3-day Coastal (LA - Vancouver)
I booked early gambling the price would drop. We had five price reductions on the three cruises before sailing, and altogether it came down more than I expected. In the end, we paid $3110.00 CAD per person in total with port charges, taxes & fees, air (Vancouver - San Juan), and air deviation & flight differential fees (to fly to San Juan a day early) - we also had $350.00 USD onboard credit. I don't think one could find a better cruise value anywhere! This was less than $100 USD per day for everything. As a rule of thumb, $100 US ($150 CAD) per day for cruise and air is a super deal.
Re: Sun Princess Panama Canal Repositioning Cruise
MV Sun Princess is a magnificent ship! I took her through "the ditch" (from Puerto Caldera, on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, to San Juan) over Halloween of last year, and had an absolutely delightful time.
As far as your ports of call are concerned:
<ul type=disc>[*] Victoria -- Sorry, but I can't make recommendations since I have not been there.[*] Los Angeles -- I don't know what excursions Princess offers. A day at Disney World would be fun, but you might have to go on your own.[*] Cabo San Lucas -- The beaches are as good as any in the Caribbean. The excursion that combines a boat tour to "Land's End" and some time at a beach club is very worthwhile, and there are also good opportunites for scuba diving and snorkeling.[*] Acapulco -- I highly recommend the tour of the city (including the cliff divers) and the Acapulco Princess Hotel.[*] Puntarenas -- Most of the attractions are in Costa Rica's central plains (near San Jose), so nearly all of the tours here will have rather lengthy rides on narrow winding roads through the rain forest. The visit to Sarchi is really interesting, has worthwhile souvenirs (be sure to bring back some Columbian Dark Roast for your coffee-drinking friends!) and it is not as far as most of the other destinations. OTOH, you might prefer just to walk around the fishing village of Puntarenas on your own.[*] Cartagena -- There are three tours here, and they are nearly identical. The first tour visits the fort, the second tour drives past the fort, and the third tour skips the fort completely (with a corresponding difference in the amount of time allocated for shopping at two shopping stops). Yes, the fort is worth seeing. The tour that visits the fort also has air conditioned buses, which are definitely worth the difference in price.[*] Aruba -- There are several tours that sound worthwhile here. I particularly enjoyed -- and highly recommend -- the "Sail, Snorkel, Barbecue, and Beach" tour. The company that operated the tour actually has their own barbecue facility on a pier where they serve the barbecue luncheon.[*] Ocho Rios -- I highly recommend the excursion to "Prospect Plantation and Dunn's River Falls" -- and be sure to bring a towel and a pair of "Surfwalkers" (mesh shoes with fairly thick rubber soles) and towel from the ship and to wear a swimsuit under your clothes so you can climb the falls. You can leave your valuables in the van, where they will be secure, during the climb. The plantation, which literally occupies a whole mountain, also is quite fascinating. Jamaica's "Blue Ridge" is quite high (at 6300 feet, it's taller than Mount Washington -- on an island that's only thirty miles wide!), and there's quite a science to the way that they planted various crops in various altitude zones around the mountain. They also grew a very impressive variety of crops, so the plantation was quite self-sufficient.[/list]
I hope that this list is helpful.
You booked an incredible experience. Have a great cruise!