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just booked for an 11day panama cruise, anything i need to know/ideas on what to do

MisterD21

If you take me serious, it's your problem
#1
hey everyone, i just booked our winter 2014 cruise. it's, as the thread states, an 11 day panama cruise. we Have never done this itinerary before and need info on everything from the ship to ports. any info well be greatly helpful, and appreciated.

SHIP : ZUIDERDAM

PORTS OF CALL:

HMC (HALF MOON CAY)
ARUBA
CURACAO
CARTAGENA
ENTER CANAL, CRUISE GATUN LAKE, EXIT CANAL, COLON PANAMA
PUERTO LIMON, COSTA RICA

NOT COUNTING MY EMBARK/DEBARK PORT AS I USED TO LIVE IN FLORIDA AND HAVE BEEN TO FLL CRUISE TERMINAL MANY TIMES, AND HAVE BEEN OFTEN TO FORT LAUDERDALE/MIAMI DADE AREA. SO I DON'T REALL NEED INFO ON THAT.

anything else you might think i would like to know/need to know please feel free to comment...... oh hell, go ahead and comment anyhow, as i know bob will try and hook me up with jethro's limo service anyways.

and again, thank you.
 

Krazy Kruizers

Holland America Specialist
#2
Re: just booked for an 11day panama cruise, anything i need to know/ideas on what to

That is a wonderful itinerary.

The partial Panama Canal cruise is a nice introduction to the locks. Be up early on that day. The ship starts to line up around 5 AM. You will actually start to go through the first lock around 6 or so. You will want to be out on the bow of the ship to watch the approach of the ship to the locks. It is interesting to watch as the mules are hooked up to the ship. It will take a while to go through the Gatun Locks -- 3 locks. After you go through them, the ship will move over to the Gatun Lake where the tenders will be lowered for those passengers who have booked excursions. Panama officials will not allow anyone to go ashore who has not booked an excursion. One tour we have liked is the train ride over to the Pacific coast where you will stopand transfer to a bus and then go and see the Miraflores Locks to see a short movie and if you are lucky, actually see a ship or a freighter going through the locks. You will also get a short tour of Panama City. When we first did this tour years ago, we boarded the train to return to the ship. Now you stay on the bus and go back to Colon. You will have some time to go through the vendors at the pier. Another good excursion is the Embara(?) Village -- long but interesting. Once ashore you get on small boats and go to a village to see their way of life.

One thing -- on the Panama Day -- this is the only day that you can get the Panama Buns in the morning -- we love them. Buns filled with cream and mandarin oranges.
 

MisterD21

If you take me serious, it's your problem
#3
Re: just booked for an 11day panama cruise, anything i need to know/ideas on what to

That is a wonderful itinerary.

The partial Panama Canal cruise is a nice introduction to the locks. Be up early on that day. The ship starts to line up around 5 AM. You will actually start to go through the first lock around 6 or so. You will want to be out on the bow of the ship to watch the approach of the ship to the locks. It is interesting to watch as the mules are hooked up to the ship. It will take a while to go through the Gatun Locks -- 3 locks. After you go through them, the ship will move over to the Gatun Lake where the tenders will be lowered for those passengers who have booked excursions. Panama officials will not allow anyone to go ashore who has not booked an excursion. One tour we have liked is the train ride over to the Pacific coast where you will stopand transfer to a bus and then go and see the Miraflores Locks to see a short movie and if you are lucky, actually see a ship or a freighter going through the locks. You will also get a short tour of Panama City. When we first did this tour years ago, we boarded the train to return to the ship. Now you stay on the bus and go back to Colon. You will have some time to go through the vendors at the pier. Another good excursion is the Embara(?) Village -- long but interesting. Once ashore you get on small boats and go to a village to see their way of life.

One thing -- on the Panama Day -- this is the only day that you can get the Panama Buns in the morning -- we love them. Buns filled with cream and mandarin oranges.
thank you for the info... would you say the train ride is worth the length of time it takes?? it seems as if it takes up almost all of your time in panama. As for the panama officials not allowing people off the ship unless they have an excursion booked, does that apply to the time in colon as well?? do you think an 65yr old woman with slight mobility issues could still do the embara village excursion, or would embarking on the small boats be a bit difficult for her? Lastly... the panama buns sound delicious, where might one find those on the ship? or in colon?
and again, thank you for the information.
 

Krazy Kruizers

Holland America Specialist
#4
Re: just booked for an 11day panama cruise, anything i need to know/ideas on what to

We loved the train ride. Back when we did it we had the train ride in both directions (no bus).

I have mobility issues -- I use a walker/rollator -- and was not able to do that excursion a couple of years ago. But everyone we knew loved it and some did have problems getting into the small boats. Don't expect plumbing at the village -- you have to rough it in their outhouses.

In Colon there are no rules -- you can get on and off the ship as you please. The ship arrives there anywhere between 2 and 3 depending on how many tenders are needed to get everyone ashore to meet their tours before the ship gets back in line to go through the locks again.

The Panama Buns can be found in the Lido, out on the decks -- only on the ship until about 11 in the morning.
 

MisterD21

If you take me serious, it's your problem
#5
Re: just booked for an 11day panama cruise, anything i need to know/ideas on what to

anyone have any info on the other ports on this itinerary??
 

George C

Well-Known Member
#6
Re: just booked for an 11day panama cruise, anything i need to know/ideas on what to

I did this cruise about 4 years ago, just want to say most of the area is a tropical rain forest, intersting wild life but may want a umbrella or rain pancho. Ship had some issues when I took it but have not heard of any recent problems with her.
 

MisterD21

If you take me serious, it's your problem
#7
Re: just booked for an 11day panama cruise, anything i need to know/ideas on what to

I did this cruise about 4 years ago, just want to say most of the area is a tropical rain forest, intersting wild life but may want a umbrella or rain pancho. Ship had some issues when I took it but have not heard of any recent problems with her.
thank you george, from what i can tell you don't really spend much time in the forrest while in panama. hope there are more oppourtunities in costa rica. Tropical rain doesn't bother me personally, but that does mean i will have to consider some protective raingear for my video/camera equipment though. Having lived in florida for almost 30 years rain is just another minor inconvenience you learn to deal with. The humidity may be an issue for my mother who has COPD, but she has meds that pretty much allow her to breath easier in humid climates. she surprised me on our recent western caribbean cruise. she didn't have any issues with the humidity.

As for the itinerary, is there anything you can tell me to expect, or anything i should look forward to doing/seeing??