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gordylad

Port or starboard Panama Canal does it matter?

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Can any cruisers who have been on the journey give advice

 

Thanks

 

 

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Just to say we are travelling eastbound California to Florida and love the sun on the balcony also would be keen on looking at anything interesting on land while travelling through the canal


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As I understand it, you'll want to be on an upper outer deck where you can see all around, not limited by what is on "your side" of the ship.

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We've been on both east and west bound transits through the Panama canal and spent most of the day on an upper deck where we could get 360° views. Loved every minute. Enjoy!

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From Wikipedia

 

There are twelve locks in total. A two-step flight at Miraflores, and a single flight at Pedro Miguel, lift ships from the Pacific up to Gatun Lake; then a triple flight at Gatun lowers them to the Atlantic side. All three sets of locks are paired; that is, there are two parallel flights of locks at each of the three lock sites. This, in principle, allows ships to pass in opposite directions simultaneously; however, large ships cannot cross safely at speed in the Culebra Cut, so in practice ships pass in one direction for a time, then in the other, using both "lanes" of the locks in one direction at a time.

The lock chambers are 110 ft (33.53 m) wide by 1,050 ft (320 m) long, with a usable length of 1,000 ft (305 m). These dimensions determine the maximum size of ships that can use the canal; this size is known as Panamax. The total lift (the amount by which a ship is raised or lowered) in the three steps of the Gatun locks is 85 ft (25.9 m); the lift of the two-step Miraflores locks is 54 ft (16 m). The single-step Pedro Miguel locks have a lift of 31 ft (9.4 m). The lift at Miraflores actually varies due to the extreme tides on the Pacific side, between 43 ft (13 m) at extreme high tide and 64.5 ft (20 m) at extreme low tide; tidal differences on the Atlantic side are very small.

The lock chambers are massive concrete structures. The side walls are from 45 to 55 ft (14 to 17 m) thick at the bases; toward the top, where less strength is required, they taper down in steps to 8 ft (2.4 m). The center wall between the chambers is 60 ft (18 m) thick and houses three galleries that run its full length. The lowest of these is a drainage tunnel; above this is a gallery for electrical cabling; and toward the top is a passageway that allows operators to gain access to the lock machinery.

 

As this states, each set of locks has paired locks, and your ship may take either the right or left set of locks.   Our ship took the right set of locks for all three and since we were on the port side, it worked well for us.  Still, there are times when you want to take photos of the other side, so plan on going to the other side of the ship from time to time.  

 

Do read David McCulloch's book "The Path Between the Seas."  It is great, the full story of the building of the canal.

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I can't remember which side of the ship we were on for our Panama Canal cruise but we spent part of the transit up top with the crowds and part on the balcony. This was back before the canal was widened so I think we need to go back again!

I agree with @4774Papa that The Path Between the Seas was a great read.

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You will want to ROAM the ship during the transit....there are views 360!!!

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We have done six full PC transits, and there is no “best side” for the transit as there will be interesting sights on both sides.  And narration during the actual transit will be broadcast through the ship’s public lounges and outdoor areas during the actual transit.  So the best “side” to be on during the transit, which will take hours, is to roam as already mentioned.  Also, if the weather is nice, which means hot and humid but not pouring rain, the help-pad will most likely be opened.  

 

All of our transits have been on Celebrity ships.  In our experience there was a destination speaker with expertise on the PC who did lectures to prepare folks for what they were going to see.

 

And to clarify, the canal itself has not been widened.  New additional locks have been added to accommodate cargo ships which are too wide to go through the original historic locks.  The historic locks are still in operation.  Celebrity M-class ships go through the old, original locks, and barely fit through those.  Even with the wider new locks much of the freight goes from one ocean to the other via the Panama Railroad.  Containers are off loaded, placed on the rail cars, and then reloaded on another ship.

 

”The Path Between the Seas” by American historian David McCulloch is essentially a “must read” for those transiting the canal.  In addition to exhaustive discussion of the American construction, it also covers the earlier French efforts.  On the Caribbean side you will see an old section of the French effort.

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We went with the Northern side. If you want a lot of sun on your balcony then Southern side while going through the canal. 

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We did the PC and found a crew stairway on the aft (actually our cabin steward told us about it) it was a great uncrowned place.  We are booked on another PC cruise and booked a aft facing cabin.  

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We made friends that had a forward facing cabin and that was better than our right side cabin, but still got some great shots from there. It is amazing how close the ship is to the wall and how much the water moves!  We were on the highest deck on the ship.  You have plenty of time to walk around and get all of the views.

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Posted (edited)

The answer is AFT.  We only look for AFT cabins - Corner Aft S1 on S class and Corner Aft FV on M Class are primo, but there are many options AFT.  For us, it's almost it's own class of cabin on any ship....  We will be on Edge Thanksgiving 2021 Panama Canal and we will be in a CC AFT traveling with 2 other couples.

 

Edited by hasentreelake
add on

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