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Excursion or go through the locks? Help?

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Help!  I am clueless when it comes to the Panama Canal.  We, (husband, sister, brother-in-law) will be on the NCL Pearl at the end of April, round trip from Miami.  

 

For those of you  that have done this, I hope you can help me.  I want to be able to experience going through the locks from the ship.  I have been told by the NCL shore excursion people that our ship will go through at 5:30ish.  Turn around in Gatun Lake, excursion people get off the ship to head to their excursions.  The ship goes back through the lock, heads to Colon and picks up all the shore excursion people.  So, my question is without getting up at 5:00, do I need to stay on the ship and not do an excursion to experience the locks,  or can we do an excursion and still be able to see the locks?

 

If we do an excursion, we were thinking about visiting the Indians.  Has anybody done that?  Thoughts?

 

Thank you so much for any help on this.

 

Nanners

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The process will start at 5:30, but takes several hours. 

 

But, to answer your question, if you want to see sailing through the locks, and go to the Embera tribal excursion, you need to be up early when the locking starts. 

 

Or stay on board when the ship comes back out. Or take an excursion that involves sailing through the locks.

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The ship will most likely start its transit around 5-5:30, it will actually go through Gatun Locks sometime after sunrise.  Sunrise in Panama is somewhere between 6 and 6:30.  If you wait until you arrive at Gatun Locks to out on deck, you are not going to find any of the choice viewing spots.

 

After the ship completes the up lockage at Gatun Locks and reaches the Lake the ship will travel a short distance to where the tendering will take place for passengers to disembark to join their shore excursions.  The ship will remain in Gatun Lake until it has a slot for the down lockage.  This normally occurs anywhere from noon to 3PM.  After clearing Gatun Locks the ship will proceed to the pier in (usually) Colon where the passenger on tour will rejoin the ship.  If you don't want to view the morning passage through Gatun Locks, your only option would be to forego the shore excursion and see the one in the afternoon.

 

Most people enjoy the Embera Indians excursion, it is one of the more popular excursions.

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Thank you, CruiserBruce and BillB48, for your help.  That's what I was afraid of.  Decisions, decisions!

 

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Get up in time for the up lockage. Get the whole experience of sailing in from the Atlantic entrance. Why do a Canal cruise if you won’t be awake for it?  😊  And then you have all your options open for an excursion, maximizing the opportunities presented by your partial transit.  
 

Enjoy. 

Edited by Turtles06

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Thanks, Turtles06, I think that's what we are going to have to do.

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Depends --

Balcony cabin?
If so, it is pretty cool watching from your cabin.  Place the room service card out the night before; get breakfast delivered as early as you want.... but you've got to be up to watch it.  Then you can have breakfast & coffee on your balcony as the ship goes through..

non-balcony, like others have said, you'll need to be up early as the upper decks forward or aft fill up quickly.

Kirk

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11 hours ago, Crusin till Im Dead said:

Depends --

Balcony cabin?
If so, it is pretty cool watching from your cabin.  Place the room service card out the night before; get breakfast delivered as early as you want.... but you've got to be up to watch it.  Then you can have breakfast & coffee on your balcony as the ship goes through..

non-balcony, like others have said, you'll need to be up early as the upper decks forward or aft fill up quickly.

Kirk

 

No matter what type of cabin you have, it's a really good idea not to spend all of your time in any one place when going through the Canal.  You want to get the perspective from high, low, fore, aft, midship...

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3 hours ago, Turtles06 said:

 

No matter what type of cabin you have, it's a really good idea not to spend all of your time in any one place when going through the Canal.  You want to get the perspective from high, low, fore, aft, midship...

 

 

I think this is even more important when you are an Atlantic entrance partial transit👍.

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Unfortunately I'm in an inside cabin.   Great idea, though.

 

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On 1/30/2020 at 8:33 PM, BillB48 said:

The ship will most likely start its transit around 5-5:30, it will actually go through Gatun Locks sometime after sunrise.  Sunrise in Panama is somewhere between 6 and 6:30.  If you wait until you arrive at Gatun Locks to out on deck, you are not going to find any of the choice viewing spots.

 

After the ship completes the up lockage at Gatun Locks and reaches the Lake the ship will travel a short distance to where the tendering will take place for passengers to disembark to join their shore excursions.  The ship will remain in Gatun Lake until it has a slot for the down lockage.  This normally occurs anywhere from noon to 3PM.  After clearing Gatun Locks the ship will proceed to the pier in (usually) Colon where the passenger on tour will rejoin the ship.  If you don't want to view the morning passage through Gatun Locks, your only option would be to forego the shore excursion and see the one in the afternoon.

 

Most people enjoy the Embera Indians excursion, it is one of the more popular excursions.

 

Thank you for that information. We are on the same cruise and wondering how the process is.

So you will find me way early on the open decks :-)

 

Nadine

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Hi all,

@nanners first of all, we are on the same cruise !

 

I was also wondering about the same thing but so far the best and probably cheapest idea is to just enjoy the locks trip in the cruise itself. I guess we have to get up at 5am or earlier and go see the access.

My questions are, where in the ship its best to look? I guess on the first access somewhere along the FWD right?

How is the weather? I dont want to miss anything having to go to the cabin to get extra clothes

Will they announce in the speakers when we are about to start going by the locks on both ways?

Anything specific worth looking at while the cruise is in the Gatun lake?

 

Thanks!

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1 hour ago, Comi.uy said:

Hi all,

@nanners first of all, we are on the same cruise !

 

I was also wondering about the same thing but so far the best and probably cheapest idea is to just enjoy the locks trip in the cruise itself. I guess we have to get up at 5am or earlier and go see the access.

My questions are, where in the ship its best to look? I guess on the first access somewhere along the FWD right?

How is the weather? I dont want to miss anything having to go to the cabin to get extra clothes

Will they announce in the speakers when we are about to start going by the locks on both ways?

Anything specific worth looking at while the cruise is in the Gatun lake?

 

Thanks!

If you look around the board this topic is discussed frequently and thoroughly.

 

The bow is a great place for a lockage. It is also very neat to be on the open portion of the Promenade Deck, where you can really get a feel for the lifting or dropping of the ship in a lock.

 

Not sure why you think forward, portside is the "best" place.

 

It will be hot. It might be hot and humid. It might be very hot and very humid. That is the weather for Panama.

 

Most cruise lines use the Canal provided tour narrator for the transit info.

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Will the ship have the narrator on going into the locks at 5:30?  Or going back out?

 

Thanks.

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1 hour ago, nanners said:

Will the ship have the narrator on going into the locks at 5:30?  Or going back out?

 

Thanks.

Both.

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I have only done a full transit and never left the ship.  I think you will get a really good experience through the locks  if you stay on board even if you are turning around half way.

 

Check out my photo blog of the journey.  You can see what there is to see up to Gatun Lake.

https://maryandnormtravel.blogspot.com/search/label/Panama Canal Transit Atlantic to Pacific

 

 

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On 1/30/2020 at 1:26 PM, nanners said:

Help!  I am clueless when it comes to the Panama Canal.  We, (husband, sister, brother-in-law) will be on the NCL Pearl at the end of April, round trip from Miami.  

 

For those of you  that have done this, I hope you can help me.  I want to be able to experience going through the locks from the ship.  I have been told by the NCL shore excursion people that our ship will go through at 5:30ish.  Turn around in Gatun Lake, excursion people get off the ship to head to their excursions.  The ship goes back through the lock, heads to Colon and picks up all the shore excursion people.  So, my question is without getting up at 5:00, do I need to stay on the ship and not do an excursion to experience the locks,  or can we do an excursion and still be able to see the locks?

 

If we do an excursion, we were thinking about visiting the Indians.  Has anybody done that?  Thoughts?

 

Thank you so much for any help on this.

 

Nanners

Take the excursion.....I haven't read everyone else's replies but I went through locks in Egypt on a river boat cruising down the Nile and honestly, I felt like I miss the "Wow" factor.   My hubby and I are on Princess in February and I just signed up for the excursion:   "As your boat enters the Miraflores Locks, you're immediately struck by its massive size and simplistic operations. Miraflores Locks are the first system encountered by ships when they enter from the Pacific side. They are the tallest of all three locks, due to the extreme fluctuation of the Pacific Ocean tides. The chambers are 1,000 feet in length. When your boat is inside, you will have the awesome experience of being raised 56 feet. Unbelievably, 26 million gallons of water are transferred in approximately 7 minutes. Once the gates open you'll sail into Miraflores Lake and proceed to the Pedro Miguel Locks. This time you are raised 28 feet to enter Gatun Lake, one of the largest man-made lakes in the word. The scenery is magnificent and the flora and fauna are an intricate part of the canal's history and ecosystem."

This is a once in a lifetime experience!   Have fun!

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You will have PLENTY of time to see the locks...this is pretty much an ALL DAY affair....3 sets of locks INTO lake Gatun...then you sit for a while, then you go BACK thru those locks (with fewer people on the ship, so it's MUCH nicer)...and then you meet up with the excursion folks before getting underway into the Caribbean again.  Unless you REALLY want to be in the heat and humidity, stay on the ship.

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Thanks for your answers.  They have all been very helpful.   Hopefully, I will be able to experience this. 

 

Fingers crossed our cruise doesn't get canceled.

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On 3/13/2020 at 6:42 PM, nanners said:

Fingers crossed our cruise doesn't get canceled.

 

Unfortunately, I would not hold out too much hope that a cruise at the end of April is going to happen.

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Going through the Panama canal has been on my bucket list. I was finally able to go with my BFF partially through and return. We went through the newer locks. To me that was a bit of a disappointment because I had read so much about the older locks. Now I know that with the larger ship we would, of course, go through the newer locks. We were on Princess Celebration. (WONDERFUL ship, by the way). I wanted history. So if there is ever a next time to/through Panama - it will be on a smaller ship (Princess of course) so that we can go coast to coast through the older locks.  For that one - I DEFINITELY would stay on board no matter if they wanted to fly me to the other end. 

It takes quite a while to go through the newer locks. If you get to the front of the ship sometime while going through . . . once you've seen the ship rise, the locks open, and the whole thing one time. . .. . it's just a repeat.

I would do either trip again in a heartbeat.

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Princess doesn't have a ship named Celebration...if they did it would be Celebration Princess. Are you talking about Caribbean Princess?

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Cruise canceled!  

 

Thanks for all the answers, a big help.  Now if I can find another Panama Canal cruise, I will apply this information to that one. 

 

Thanks again everybody.  Nanners

 

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