Panama Canal memories: Azamara Quest Cruise Review by Carol Maloney
Overall Member Rating
Panama Canal memories
Destination: Panama Canal & Central America
This was our first cruise with Celebrity. Have cruised 6 times previously with Holland America, Princess, Carnival X2, NCL, and RCCL. Yes, we are cruise sluts. We booked cruise and air thru the Azamara cruise line. I found out by chance that custom air was complimentary on our cruise. When I called the custom cruise air department they did not know there was no charge. After consulting with another dept they told me that I was right. Got non-stop flights departing Chicago to Miami and Acapulco to Chicago. Flew out of Chicago at 6am nonstop to Miami. After a short wait a shuttle bus took us to the dock. Smoothest embarkation we have had. A glass of champagne in hand we were in our cabin 6090 by 12:30pm. My husband is a history buff and has wanted to cruise the Panama Canal for years. This was one of those trips in a lifetime for him. Booked a sunset veranda. DH wanted that cabin going thru the locks and the view was spectacular. The balcony was 60 feet, More with a large table and a half overhang that was always in the shade and protected from the rain. Perfect balcony. Bigger than some balcony cabins and smaller than others we have been in. been The only disadvantage that I found with aft veranda was the vibration when the ship was going fast.
Ship Quite beautiful, smaller than we have been on previously, and easy to get around. Casino the right size for this ship with great blackjack rules and $5 minimum tables. We bought the spa pass which we used daily. The spa area was on 9 forward with saltwater heated sauna and a large seating area. DH and I don't have a good knee between us and the spa kept us going. The most people I saw at any one time in the area were six. It cost $175/couple for the 14 days and was well worth the money for us. Nice quiet area to relax, nap and read.
Dining Best food we have ever had on a cruise ship. 2 top choices were New England Clam Chowder and the short ribs of beef. Ate at the Prime C one time and found the food to be no better than the main dining room Discoveries. Service in the dining room was superb. We ate at different times and in different areas of the dining room. Never had to wait more than 5 minutes to be seated. The menu had so much to offer we never asked for anything different or extra. Anyway, that is not our style. Our dining time was always fine. We did eat at the buffet a few times and it was excellent. We had room service for breakfast most mornings cause we had the large table on the balcony. Steak and eggs, excellent smoked salmon with hard boiled eggs, capers, and onions, and great poached eggs. Everything the proper temperature consistently.
Port Antonio, Jamaica We could not dock at Port Antonio due to weather conditions. That was disappointing as we had a group tour arranged by Laura from cruise critic with Marva Shaw. Okay that was an AOG.
Santa Marta, Columbia We were going to stay on the ship for this port due to all the negative reviews. We already had been at sea for 3 days so thought we would try a ship excursion. Because of the inaccurate description at the shore excursion talk by Luke Bergado, shore excursions manager, we chose Taste of Tayrona Park. We went down to the desk and I personally asked Luke if this excursion would be appropriate for my DH and I due to our knee problems. He told us not in the least strenuous. Well, after getting to the park in a bus escorted by armed militia we were all told by the guide to follow him. Up and down hill, passing many groups of armed militia, thru mud, up 132 rock stairs all uneven, but whose counting?) and even one jump about 3 feet down and we arrived at the beach. One knee was swollen for a week. When we got back to the ship it took me 4 days to get an appointment with Luke to talk about the discrepancies. For the first 10 minutes he told me my husband had talked to him all about the bad experience. NOT. I felt like I was dealing with a used car salesman. After another 6 days I finally made an appointment with Heike Cramer the Hotel Director. Finally some satisfaction with a refund and being told not to tell anyone. Sorry but be very aware the shore excursion talks are not likely to be very accurate.
Cartagena, Columbia Went on a city tour with Tesorotours. Arranged privately with cruise critic and Laura and Marv. Really nice tour and fun group with Nancy and Mike.
Puerto Limon I had arranged a private tour with Oscar Brown and had a group of 7. We did a combination tour of the aerial tram at Forest Atlantic Park and the Tortuguero Canal tour. The Oscar Brown tour we did was a combination tour of Aerial Tram and Tortuguero Canal. It took maybe an hour and a half to get to the Aerial Tram. The canal trip was supposed to be for one hour. For the sake of time we cut it back to 45min. Here's what we saw: Birds, Iguanas and Sloths. The return traffic was really really bad so we just made it back in time to walk up the gangway at 3:44pm. (We were supposed to be on board at 3:45pm.) Too stressful. Oscar should have known that we should only do one tour as the aerial tram was too far. Cannot recommend him as a tour guide.
Panama Canal We stayed on our balcony most of the day going thru the locks. It rained a bit, was quite warm so we had our bathing suits on and sat in the rain. Great experience. It would have been nice if there had been something on TV with a naturalist talking about the canal. When we were in Alaska they had all the naturalists broadcasting about the glaciers on tv besides being on the upper deck.
Puerto Caldera Took the ships excursion to the Macaw Sanctuary which was quite enjoyable.
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua Private tour of Granada and Isletas with cruise critic group. Very nice tour and enjoyable day.
Huatulco, Mexico Took cab at dock for city tour and shopping. Nice city and day.
Entertainment In the evening the shows were usually acceptable, some not, some exceptional. There usually was really nothing after the regular shows. I expected the lack of entertainment on the smaller ship. The big problem I thought was the TV. Lack of movies, menus, it was just basic CNN and TCM. or pay per view movies for $10-$12. ???
We disembarked in Acapulco and took the ship excursion city tour. Saw the cliff divers and great shopping. Finished my Christmas shopping and a few birthdays also. Dropped of at the airport about 1pm for our 4pm flight. No line, suitcases were thoroughly searched. No charge at AA for our overweight luggage only tags placed saying heavy. On our last Pursuits (the daily program) we were informed there would be a $25 departure tax/person at the airport. We were not charged. Home by 9pm. Tired but happy.
We had a great cruise. Service was exceptional. So were all the friends we met.. and will keep. Less
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