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Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 148
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2005

December 23, 2012

Can travelers who have taken the cruise of the Panama Canal tell me the pros and cons of traveling in each direction?  We hope to add the pre-trip extension to Bocas del Toro, so that might factor into the decision as well.  If you have gone either way, can you please tell me the good and bad things about going in a particular direction?  Thanks!

Author: ed watts

Joined: 3/30/2010
Posts: 141
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

All seven continents, 113 countries and all states except Idaho.Plus some interesting places that are not countries such as The azores, Antarctica, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, etc.

Traveler Since: 2010

December 23, 2012

My wife and I did the Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean all the way through and if you mean a total transit, I can see no difference in the two...we chose to do an independent tour of Mexico before boarding the ship in Mexico and ended up on the other end where we did an independent tour of Columbia.before returning through Miami...This was not an OAT/GCT tour however...Since I am not sure what you mean by Northbound or southbound and if you want to see a lot of south and centeral america in one trip, one I highly recommend is a Holland America cruise (if they still offer it that is)...You begin in Rio with a pre-trip option to Iguassua Falls, then several ports on the eastern coast, to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Argentina, Chile and on up the central american coast, Mexico and ending up in San Diego,,,The full transit of the Panama Canal is an adventure to be missed though...

Author: ed watts

Joined: 3/30/2010
Posts: 141
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

All seven continents, 113 countries and all states except Idaho.Plus some interesting places that are not countries such as The azores, Antarctica, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, etc.

Traveler Since: 2010

December 23, 2012

OOPS---that should have read "an adventure NOT to be missed"   I must have been in a rush as I seem to have "fat fingered" several words in my post above!!!

Author: garyrr

Joined: 8/25/2012
Posts: 118
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 16
Countries Visited:

Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, S Africa, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Peru, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Zambia

Traveler Since: 2000

December 23, 2012

Wattsed-    just "fyi" - you can edit one of these posts once you make the post.    You should see an "edit" (and a "delete" ) link at the top of your post once it is made.

Author: ed watts

Joined: 3/30/2010
Posts: 141
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

All seven continents, 113 countries and all states except Idaho.Plus some interesting places that are not countries such as The azores, Antarctica, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, etc.

Traveler Since: 2010

December 23, 2012

Gary, thanks for the information...you learn something new everyday!  I thought once you hit  send it was gone for good somewhere out in space somewhere...By the way, I appreciate your posts---some of the most level-headed comments come from you---thanks!

Author: piperpat

Joined: 6/25/2010
Posts: 3
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 17
Traveler Since: 2005

December 24, 2012

We took the Southbound  trip in June with 2 of our granddaughters.   I can't see that it would make any difference which way you went.  You'll still see all the same sights and participate in the same acivities.  We all enjoyed the trip. 

Author: jandb

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 33
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 5
Traveler Since: 1999

December 25, 2012

 We transversed the Canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific on the catamarin a couple of years ago when it was still an OAT tour.  There are several stops to visit islands to see wild life, vistas, historic sites, etc.  In addition there is much land travel along the Canal, including a train ride.  I think you will see everything regardless of which direction your sailing takes.  It was another great trip.  

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

December 25, 2012

jandb is probably giving you the answer you were looking for. The rest of us seem to have done the Panama Canal transit on a larger cruise ship that did not stop during the transit. In that case I totally agree that the direction is immaterial. It's certainly worth doing once. The second time is a maybe. Locking through on a ship that literally fills the lock chamber is a major part of the adventure. Following and meeting other sea-going ships in Gatun Lake, the largest man-made lake in the world at the time of its construction, is also quite interesting. The Culebra, or Gaillard, Cut is also very interesting as it is the part that looks like what you expect a canal to look like. The locks and the cut together emphasize the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal. When the new, larger, locks are finished the really big cruise ships will be able to transit the Canal. That will not appeal to me because the rally big cruise ships do not appeal to me.

Author: ed watts

Joined: 3/30/2010
Posts: 141
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

All seven continents, 113 countries and all states except Idaho.Plus some interesting places that are not countries such as The azores, Antarctica, Falkland Islands, South Georgia, etc.

Traveler Since: 2010

December 25, 2012

Captain Larry---I have to agree with you about the large cruise ships---when they got so large I went to the River Cruises (7 so far) and, personally, like them so much better...I lived on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands for over two years when cruise ships were "small", i.e. about 1,200 to not more than 1,800 passengers; however, even then, when two or three of them docked in the V.I. at the same time---you could not move when in town as people were shoulder to shoulder...Last year we were in Ephesus, Turkey on a private tour when two of the super cruise ships docked at the same time...we could not move in Ephesus and deciced to come back another day...as my friends and I were leaving we noticed the cruise boat name and numbers on the busses coming in to the parking lot---one was already up to 163 busses!!   That said, I would really got back through the Panama Canal on a smaller boat as many on this site have already done...As you said, the engineering is fantastic to see and watch in operation...

Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 148
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2005

December 28, 2012

Thanks, Piperpat and JandB, for answering my question.  I had wondered if there were any important differences between going from the Atlantic to the Pacific and vice versa. It sounds like they are about equal.

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