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misty February 12th, 2008 09:47 AM

Best time of Year and Cruise Lline for Panama Canal? Help!

Can you help me.....

What is the best time of year for a Panama Canal Cruise? Spring or Fall?

What Cruise Line is Best? Which route do you recommend?

Thanks a million!

richstacy February 12th, 2008 06:06 PM

Have done Both spring and fall. It doesn't really make that much difference because the canal is near the equator and it is always hot there. Spring may be better because you avoid the possibility of a hurricane in the fall.

Saying what cruise line is best is impossible. That's a matter of personal preference. We prefer Princess or Holland America. If you are young and heavily into partying, you might prefer Carnival. My wife and I are recently retired so we don't. If you do not require constant partying, rock climbing etc. to be entertained, and if tropical breezes, a tropical drink, interesting companions and a good book or a little romance relax you, then Princess or HAL are both wonderful, with HAL slightly more upscale.

This is a great cruise for a balcony if you can possibly afford it. It is not that much more than an ocean view. Go to the cruise line websites and check the itineraries and the ships, deck plans etc.

Also, there are two types of canal cruises, half canal that go from a Florida port like Ft. Lauderdale go through the eastern Locks into the central lake, then turn around and come back to Florida.

the other kind goes all the way through from say L.A. to Florida or visa versa. On the later, you get the Mexican Riviera, and some of the Caribbean too as well as the canal. A few more days and a little more expensive, but worth it.

I see you are from Colorado too. Email me and I'll send you some pics from our last one on the Island Princess.

NY Cruisin Mama February 16th, 2008 12:12 AM

Panama Canal - Full Transit
Hi: We did the Canal in Jan, 2007 on Celebrity's Summit - from La to
FLL - was the best ever - can't say enough about the staff on the ship -
so friendly and accommodating. Our waiters were excellent - even gave us a little magic show each night and the entertainment was really good.
Wonderful food and the Aqua Spa and warm pool were heaven. Would go
again with Celebrity in a minute. Our weather was perfect - not too warm
and a couple of overcast days (the day we transitted the canal was rather
cloudy but that made being on deck that much more comfortable. Definately go for a balcony cabin - we were on Sky Deck which has a bit
of an overhang above - made it rather difficult to see the sunrise or sunset
but having our balcony shaded in the afternoon made up for it. We booked
Conciege Class (this was an upgrade for us) and the little extras were very nice. We only paid about $ 50 pp extra for the upgrade so was really
worth it.(If that had not occurred, I don't think the perks are worth the extra money - sometimes several hundreds of $$$ more - but I liked the
fact that our cabin was a little larger - however, the size of the bathrooms
are all the same (great showers by the way) - not like Princess where your "you-know-what" is hanging out over the side. Had very nice dinner
companions at our table for 8 - I recommend the early sitting so you can
enjoy the main show and have time for the casino or other clubs later if
you wish. Oh, and the Chocolate Extravaganza was incredible. As you
might guess - I was really, really happy and impressed with this trip.

richstacy February 16th, 2008 01:28 PM

Re Sherri's post, lauding Celebrity, I could say equally great things about Holland America, Princess, or Crystal. They are all great!

I agree that a balcony (some lines call it a verandah) is the way to go and on modern ships, it's really not that much more expensive.

It's always a matter of personal preference but I disagree as to early seating. Early diners get back to the ship after being in port all day and they are rushed to shower and change in time for dinner. Frequently they miss the sailaway and the sunset, which is the best part of any cruise. Rule #1: Eat when it's dark and there is nothing to see :!:

Those who opt for late seating, get back from shore with plenty of time to shower and change, enjoy the sailaway with a tropical drink at the rail, another drink at the piano bar, some liesurly shopping, or a few minutes in the casino, or just strolling the promanade. After 6 or 7 months at sea, and some 16 cruises all over the word, there is absolutely NO comparison in my view. But then we could both be wrong. On Princess you have a third choice of "anytime dining." :)

richstacy February 16th, 2008 01:35 PM

BTW, I have no idea what Sheree's probllm is with Princess' showers. My 'you know what' hasn't 'hung out over the side' on any ship since a windjammer where you could go potty and shower at the same time. :D

NY Cruisin Mama February 16th, 2008 01:52 PM

Well, as far as the early vs. late sitting - we have medical issues that require eating before 9 pm - yes, when you do shore excursions - it can
be a bit of a rush to dress for dinner but as you need to be back on board
before 5 - you can plan accordingly. We are not fans of the Princess line as our Carib. cruise on the Dawn in Jan, 2003 was vastly different than
our first with Costa the year before. We traveled with friends who have
cruised extensively and they were equally "put off" by the general atmosphere of the ship, crew and entertainment. I have friends that cruise
with Princess constantly and love it but Celebrity is tops for me!! I also
prefer smaller passenger count and I think Princess is just getting too big.
Even the friends we met on our Celebrity cruise commented on how wonderful the showers were - I suppose if I received a Princess cruise as
a gift - I would not turn it down - but I have better places for my money
and time.

richstacy February 16th, 2008 03:02 PM


Fortunately there are lots of choices for all tastes. Our all time favorite was Crystal, but it's a tad expensive. It sounds to me like you might appreciate the somewhat smaller ships of Holland America, they are gorgeous ships and the Indonesian Filipino crews are the finest in the industry. We have a lot of time on HAL ships. Meanwhile we are going on a 14 day Princess mega ship in a few weeks (our first mega ship) and I'm interested in checking our one of the Amaraza small ships.

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