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Old 11-08-2017, 11:33 AM
 
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
9,673 posts, read 18,860,204 times
Reputation: 8555

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Aloha City Data Folks,

We've got an upcoming Panama transit cruise on HAL at the end of this year (it's getting close!). So for those of you who have cruised through Panama Canal, what was your favorite part?

What do you wish you would have done that you didn't do?

Where there any excursions or experiences that you wish you hadn't had?

The ports we will be going to are:
1. San Diego (starting port)
2. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
3. Huatulco, Mexico
4. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala
5. Corinto, Nicaragua
6. Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica
7. Panama Canal Transit
8. Cartegena, Colombia
9. Fort Lauderdale, Florida (ending port)

We will be in San Diego for one day before the cruise, I'd thought to go to the zoo, but at $52 per person to see the zoo plus transportation to and from, we may not do that. Is the zoo worth over $100 for two people to see it? Maybe we will go to the maritime museum or look around the port area. Our hotel is near the airport/port so we could walk to the maritime museum or take the water taxi or a bus or regular taxi.

Haven't been to any of the South American ports except the starting and ending ports, so haven't a clue what folks like to do in those particular ports. (Are those South American or North American? One would think Panama is the dividing line since it's the narrowest part?)

So far the only excursion I've considered is the Everglades Tour after the boat gets to Fort Lauderdale. Do after-the-cruise ship tours take your luggage to the airport? If we could go on an excursion and then meet up with our luggage at the airport, it would be lovely. Perfect if the luggage was already checked in and we meet up with it at the destination airport. Or do we have to schlep our luggage along with us on the excursion? They mention that the tour will drop us off at the airport after the excursion, but what about the luggage?
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Old 11-12-2017, 10:19 PM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,069 posts, read 19,002,971 times
Reputation: 24167
Re the zoo. I'd arrive a day or two early and make a day of it. It's one of the leading zoo's in the WORLD. Don't give it short shift.

RE your other ports. Cruises thru the PC stop at a wide variety of ports. We stopped in hualtuco some years ago and thought it was pretty, but boring. Nice beach bars.

Cartegena - been twice. Umm, can't think of anything positive to say except a bit of the history and architecture was interesting.

PV is always fun but rather commercialized. Still very beautiful.

HIGHIGHT of the cruise (we've done it 2x) was the crossing itself. Especially the first 2-3 hours. MUCH better experienced on the decks than on your balcony.
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Old 11-13-2017, 01:18 PM
 
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
9,673 posts, read 18,860,204 times
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Well, it is a good zoo and I really like the meercat exhibit, but I've been there before even though it was years ago. It's just the high entrance fee plus the transportation to get there will add in some more costs. It probably comes up to about $175 for two people to see the zoo for a day. Dunno what the tax is in San Diego, about 9%? Plus approx. $30 cab fare to and from?

That's a bit expensive for us, even though we're cruising, we're still budget travelers since every vacation we take is the same as a mainlander's expensive 'Hawaiian' vacation (i.e. long distance airfare, hotel/motel & rental cars). We don't have the option of low cost drive-to-someplace-the-next-state-over type vacations so we have to budget pretty heavily to afford vacations.

We may still go to the zoo, though, even though it's expensive. It doesn't look like we will be doing very many excursions at the ports. I still haven't found out if the luggage is checked in at the airport for us by the cruise ship, although we'd still want our carry ons so maybe an after cruise excursion wouldn't really get rid of luggage problems for us. We don't usually travel with much luggage and we're not going out of our climate zone on this trip so we don't even need to find winter clothes this trip.

Yeah, another problem of being from Hawaii, beaches and beach bars just aren't high on the 'exotic' list. We do want to see the canal and this is also getting us to the East Coast for Christmas without jet lag.

I'll make a point of being on deck for the first part of the cruise through the canal, thanks for the tip!
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Old 11-13-2017, 07:01 PM
 
Location: Florida
4,359 posts, read 3,696,311 times
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Try https://boards.cruisecritic.com/
Spend a little time and you will find lost of info on everything.
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Old 11-16-2017, 08:03 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,069 posts, read 19,002,971 times
Reputation: 24167
Quote:
Originally Posted by rjm1cc View Post
Try https://boards.cruisecritic.com/
Spend a little time and you will find lost of info on everything.
I agree, but I'll add some thoughts on your port stops. We've done the full crossing 2X, both repositioning cruises like your cruise. We find repositioning cruises to be great bargains and like that they often don't go to the 'usual and/or most popular ports - also like yours.

I've been to PV many times, off cruise ships and for longer stays. BEST time we ever had in PV was renting a jeep for the day and driving out to one of the restaurants outside of the city. We went to Chico's Paradise, but Tony's in mismaloya beach would be a good choice, too. Like you, we are very budget conscious, and found another couple to split the cost of the jeep. (Can't remember if I found them on cruise critic or on the ship, but it was probably the latter. CC people sometimes get on my nerves. )

Cartegena - since you've never been there, do pay and take a tour. We rarely take cruise ship sponsored excursions as they are usually overpriced, over crowded, and not as well done as we can find on our own. CC and Trip Advisor would be my source to locate a good tour [u]who will reliably get you back to the ship ontion time.

Hualtuco - as previously stated it's a pretty but sleepy town. Go at it with the attitude that it's Mexican and, therefore, nothing like your home in HI. Get a meal and some margaritas. Go to the crafts shops.

Your stop in Guatemala is, unfortunately, a rather industrial port and not close to the best (imo) two places to visit in Guatemala. They are the Colonial city of Antiqua or Lake Atilan (the 'Lake Tahoe of Central America. To visit either one of these, I ABSOLUTELY would book an excursion thru the ship. The travel distance to those destinations is long, the roads and transportation systems are pretty bad. Those factors make it more risky to book independently because if you miss your ship, you're screwed. If you're on a cruise excursions, they will hold the ship until your group returns. Book independently and LATE means you're gonna watch your ship pull away without you.

We did Lake Atilan 15+ years ago. It remains as one of our most favorite days in a port (out of many in Europe, South America Central America, Mexico, HI, etc.) A truly magical day.
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Old 11-16-2017, 08:21 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
15,069 posts, read 19,002,971 times
Reputation: 24167
Back to San Diego- if you've already done the zoo consider taking uber/lyft to Coranado Island or this hoho trolley tour https://www.sandiego.org/members/tou...diego-inc.aspx

I don't know for sure, but I doubt the cruise line will take your luggage a day before your cruise. If you haven't booked (the ridiculously over priced) transfers thru them, they aren't touching your luggage until you hit the port. We figure out a way to drop it at our hotel, then venture out for the day. The hotel will take it before check in. Or we rent a car and leave it hidden in the trunk.
Again Uber or Lyft will be far less expensive than a taxi. If you haven't downloaded the apps and established an account yet, look online for new customer deals which will reduce your fares. Please remember to give the drivers a small tip.
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Old 11-17-2017, 06:20 AM
 
Location: Two Rivers, Wisconsin
11,722 posts, read 11,545,104 times
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Good info on the Panama Canal here, it is one of my favorite cruises. I've done 2, San Juan to LA and LA to San Juan. I know people have time constraints but I wouldn't consider a partial transit.

I agree cruise ship transfers are over priced but sometimes convenience factor outweighs price. Depending on cruise line, some have the option of checking your bag to your home airport at the end of the cruise. I've used this with Princess in FLL, works great. They charge $25.00, I did it when I wanted to do an Everglades tour. I was coming off 28 days on the ship & did not want to deal with my big bag. Living in NE Wisconsin, I never have direct flights, no issues.
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Old 05-06-2018, 08:43 AM
 
4,956 posts, read 2,198,563 times
Reputation: 7094
Other than the canal, I like Costa Rica best. Nice people. Generally clean and well kept unlike many south American countries that seem dirty with trash everywhere. Did a volcano hike there that was strenuous but one of the major highlights of the trip. Have you ever cooked a marshmallow over hot lava?
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Old 06-01-2018, 04:49 PM
 
4,665 posts, read 2,637,440 times
Reputation: 3342
Quote:
Originally Posted by hotzcatz View Post
Aloha City Data Folks,

We've got an upcoming Panama transit cruise on HAL at the end of this year (it's getting close!). So for those of you who have cruised through Panama Canal, what was your favorite part?

What do you wish you would have done that you didn't do?

Where there any excursions or experiences that you wish you hadn't had?

The ports we will be going to are:
1. San Diego (starting port)
2. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
3. Huatulco, Mexico
4. Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala
5. Corinto, Nicaragua
6. Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica
7. Panama Canal Transit
8. Cartegena, Colombia
9. Fort Lauderdale, Florida (ending port)

We will be in San Diego for one day before the cruise, I'd thought to go to the zoo, but at $52 per person to see the zoo plus transportation to and from, we may not do that. Is the zoo worth over $100 for two people to see it? Maybe we will go to the maritime museum or look around the port area. Our hotel is near the airport/port so we could walk to the maritime museum or take the water taxi or a bus or regular taxi.

Haven't been to any of the South American ports except the starting and ending ports, so haven't a clue what folks like to do in those particular ports. (Are those South American or North American? One would think Panama is the dividing line since it's the narrowest part?)

So far the only excursion I've considered is the Everglades Tour after the boat gets to Fort Lauderdale. Do after-the-cruise ship tours take your luggage to the airport? If we could go on an excursion and then meet up with our luggage at the airport, it would be lovely. Perfect if the luggage was already checked in and we meet up with it at the destination airport. Or do we have to schlep our luggage along with us on the excursion? They mention that the tour will drop us off at the airport after the excursion, but what about the luggage?
Any update on how the cruise was?
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Old 06-02-2018, 10:25 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
71,937 posts, read 83,597,281 times
Reputation: 41745
Costa Rico and Cartegena are 2 of our favorite ports. I loved our Panama Canal cruise but hubby doesn't want to repeat. So much for that.
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